Sen. Elizabeth Dole recently stood on the U.S. Senate floor and requested that the AIDS Relief Bill be named after Jesse Helms!Though I would fault her on many issues, Sen. Dole has always come across as sensible. Moreover, given her former position as the head of the Red Cross and that organization's struggles with the safety of the blood supply, one would think that she would be sensitive to issues associated with AIDS. So, it just seemed inconceivable that she would do something so outrageous and offensive. After all, this is the same Jesse Helms that fought for AIDS funding cuts, arguing that gays' "deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct" caused the disease and that "we've got to have some common sense about a disease transmitted by people deliberately engaging in unnatural acts."
So much for giving her the benefit of the doubt.
If I had been following the papers and blogs more closely a month ago, I would have seen that she did indeed try and fail to get an AIDS bill named after our esteemed former senator.
We're left with two equally disturbing explanations for Sen. Dole's. Either she's cluelessly insensitive to Helms' hateful legacy, or she's fully aware of that legacy and shamelessly pandering to Helms' former supporters in her tight re-election race with Kay Hagan. Both explanations suggest that it's time for her to retire.
In the meantime, who knows what other bill naming opportunities Sen. Dole might be contemplating for notable North Carolinians. The Eric Rudolph Women's Reproductive Freedom Act? The Coy Privette Defense of Marriage Act? The Dwight Watson Safe Streets and Traffic Management Act?
Sen. Dole has recently announced that she won't be attending the Republican convention. Maybe she's become too much of an embarrassment even for them.