Dog bites man, leopard changes spots, Sanford seeks stimulus funds for SC schools

That chill you feel on this wet morning is caused by hell freezing over beneath our feet. (OK, that’s all the cliches for now, I promise…)

You know, I had been thinking that Mark Sanford was utterly unaffected by events of the last few months — that he had learned nothing, least of all that he owed it to the state he nominally governs to act in its best interests, rather than in the hubristic service of his own idiosyncratic beliefs. And then this:

SC’s Sanford seeks stimulus funds for schools

The Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Mark Sanford wants $300 million in federal stimulus money for South Carolina, less than a year after fighting against accepting more than $700 million.

The State newspaper reported that Sanford flew to Washington on Thursday to ask for South Carolina’s share of the $4 billion “Race to the Top” education money. Forty states already have applied for the money, which is awarded based on plans to improve education and for innovation.

Sanford lost a fight in the South Carolina Supreme Court last year in his bid to refuse to take stimulus funds for public schools, colleges and law enforcement.

Gubernatorial spokesman Ben Fox says Sanford has no interest in debating the issue again.

South Carolina U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn praised Sanford’s efforts on behalf of public schools.

Now mind you, part of the reason he was there was to promote a type of school “choice,” but I’m happy to report it was a good kind of school choice — charter schools. Beyond that, though, the governor was seeking funds for purposes he has until now shown little interest in promoting, such as:

  • New dropout prevention programs
  • Outfitting more Montessori classrooms
  • Giving incentives to teachers who agree to teach in the state’s most challenged schools
  • Building housing for teachers who agree to live and teach in rural areas where housing is hard to find
  • Creating high-tech labs for students to learn about advanced manufacturing and green engineering

Yay, Gov. Sanford! This looks like an actual positive development, and I’m not going to damn it with faint, grudging, crotchety partisan praise the way Rep. Jim Clyburn did. (And I quote: “I am pleased to see that the governor is finally taking an interest in South Carolina’s public schools. After going to court last year to prevent stimulus funds from coming to South Carolina, his meeting with (Education) Secretary (Arne) Duncan appears to be the governor’s admission that the stimulus was not only necessary but effective. I hope this is an indication he is willing to move forward together.”)

But I can’t help noting this interesting sidelight… Under Joel Sawyer’s replacement Ben Fox, a pattern is emerging: The governor takes an apparently self-serving trip to Washington — to preen, to be seen, to hobnob or what have you — and that gets reported widely, then after the political damage is done, Mr. Fox gives a reason for the trip that at least seems consistent with the governor doing his job. Remember last month when we all reported that the governor had gone to Washington on the morning after the State of the State with no more relevant apparent motive than his desire to bask in the victorious glow of Scott Brown? And then Mr. Fox reported that he was really there on an ecodevo mission?

Well, in this case everyone had reported that the governor had taken the state plane to Washington with no purpose beyond attending the National Prayer Breakfast. Then, later in the day, Mr. Fox offers this explanation.

So I wonder which it is? Are they making up these righteous-sounding justifications after the governor gets egg on his face (which I sincerely doubt), or do they really still not get the fact that the governor’s doings are news, and if he’s doing something legitimate, you need to tell people before they report on the basis of insufficient information? In other words, are we being intentionally misled or is the governor’s staff incompetent? Or is he still not telling his staff where he’s going? Or is there a perfectly logical and laudatory explanation for all this that Ben Fox will tell us about later?

6 thoughts on “Dog bites man, leopard changes spots, Sanford seeks stimulus funds for SC schools

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    I thought the Governor was posting his schedule now. Would it not be on such a schedule, were such a schedule posted?

    As far as changing his positions, in Argentina, winter is summer and summer is winter and water goes the down the drain in the other direction (clockwise?).

  2. martin

    Haven’t we learned that if Mark takes a trip and no one knows about it in advance, a woman is the likely real destination?
    2 trips to DC in less than a month’s time? Come on.

  3. KP

    Well, I’M going to damn him with faint, grudging, crotchety (though not partisan) praise: thank God he’s finally thinking about public education.

    Here’s what I think is happening: Sanford is still doing what the hell he wants, and the staff is still scrambling to put a good face on it, and they fight with him back and forth and finally he gives in and you get an explanation like ecodev or public schools. Because he’s walking humbly now.

  4. orphan annie

    I am certain he has some ” other” business to attend to. It’s intertwined with his C Street membership and a push to revitalize his personal plan to privatize SSA. Pay attention to the news folks and know your Governor and his “real passion”.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    and then there’s his acolyte, Nikki Haley who is running hard against stimulus funding, except when she votes to accept it.

    To paraphrase Groucho Marx, they have principles, and if you don’t like it, they have other principles…..


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