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My blog “President Shithead” irked a TAPster who worked for Jesse Helms (not Carter): “I don’t mind when you pick on my old boss, but saying he’s part of a string of Trumps… that’s hitting below the belt.”

That is pretty low. But is it justified? Well, Martin Luther King Day is an appropriate day to ask just that.

It was 35 years ago – in 1983, right before the Hunt-Helms Senate race in 1984 – when Senator Helms took to the Senate floor to filibuster against a federal holiday for Dr. King. Helms was the Trump of his day, happy to say things that he knew – and hoped – would drive his opponents nuts.

During his filibuster, Helms said King was a Communist, a trouble-maker and immoral. It was nothing more than he’d said for years on WRAL, but saying it on the Senate floor set off a statewide and national firestorm. Which Helms wanted.

And, just as he wanted, he put Governor Hunt on the spot: Did Hunt support a King holiday? Hunt did. Which gave a lot of his white friends and supporters back then heartburn. It was one of Hunt’s finest moments, I always thought, especially since it played a big part in his losing to Helms. So, I’m not at all inclined to look kindly on Helms.

Still, looking back at Helms and looking now at Trump, I’d have to say no, I don’t believe Helms sunk to Trump’s level. Which makes Trump’s level officially as low as you can go.


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