It’s really hard to keep up with all the petty outrages (both “petty” and “outrageous” — yes, that seems about right) that our new young governor keeps pumping out.
I’m a busy guy — working, blogging, trying to grab a little sleep at night — and sometimes find myself momentarily out of the loop. Particularly when there are so many far more important things going on in the world. Let’s see, the Japan earthquake, Qaddafi (I’ve gotten to where I just spell his name with the first combination of letters that my fingers hit, so I hope that suits) moving to crush the rebellion while the world is distracted with Japan, Saudis intervening in Bahrain and people getting killed… And sometimes you have to put even that aside, and do other stuff…
So when I finish my Virtual Front Page and close the laptop, I sometimes don’t see any new developments until 7ish the next morning. Which is why I was taken aback at the very first Tweet I saw this morning:
Explain Darla Moore to me.
I replied, “Well, she’s this rich lady from South Carolina who tries to give back to her home state. That’s the Twitter version, I guess…” And I went on to breakfast. There, the grill room at the Capital City Club was buzzing with what I didn’t know about, since I hadn’t sat down to read the paper yet (don’t ask me why it wasn’t on thestate.com when I was doing the Virtual Front Page yesterday; maybe it was and I just missed it). The state and community leaders weren’t going, “Did you hear about Darla?” It was more like, “What do you think of the news?” Period.
Yep, this stuff happens to me, too. Not often, but sometimes.
So I sat down, and I read the paper. And I Tweeted this out:
@BradWarthen Brad Warthen
Nikki Haley dumping Darla Moore is classic case of naked, arbitrary exercise of patronage power….http://tinyurl.com/4nu4of8
You can congratulate me later for having gotten a link, an editorial point, “Nikki Haley,” “Darla Moore,” and “naked” into the Twitter format (with 14 characters of room left!). Let’s move on to the substance.
And the substance is… well, what I just said. It just doesn’t get any more blatant, plain, slap-in-the-face, I-don’t-care-what-you’ve-done-for-our-state-or-this-institution-I’ve-got-my-own-guy than this. Just bald, plain, take-it-for-what-it-is. Although I do have to hand it to Haley staffer Rob Godfrey for managing to twist the knife a bit with this bit of sarcastic insouciance:
Asked why the appointment was not announced, he said: “Given that there are over 1,000 appointments to boards and commissions the governor can make, we never intended to have a press conference for each one.”
Because, you know, Darla Moore isn’t any more important than that.
At the Cap City Club this morning, one of the regular movers and shakers made a rather naive and innocent remark (sometimes movers and shakers can surprise you that way), honestly asking, “How do you just brush aside someone who’s given $100 million to South Carolina?” (Yeah, I know she’s only pledged $70 million to USC and $10 million to Clemson, according to the story, but I guess he was rounding.)
I replied, patiently, here’s what Nikki Haley would say to that (were she brutally honest, of course): “She didn’t give ME a hundred million dollars. Tommy over here gave me $3,500. I don’t understand the question.” That’s Tommy Cofield, by the way, a Lexington attorney.
People who are not movers and shakers (and who in fact have a sort of visceral aversion to movers and shakers) can say some naive things, too. Over in a previous comment, our own Doug said “Are we assuming that Sheheen wouldn’t have replaced anyone he didn’t like?”
To that, I responded once again with the painfully obvious: “No, Vincent would not have replaced Darla Moore with an unknown, minor campaign contributor in such a prestigious post. If that’s what you’re asking.” Of course, I should have added, “without a reason.” By that, I would mean a valid reason, one that takes South Carolina’s and USC’s legitimate interests into account, one that is not just arbitrary.
Oh she GAVE what I suppose some folks (probably including Doug, believing as he does that there is nothing so deleterious to society as experience and commitment to the public weal) will regard as a reason: “As is the case with many of our appointees, the governor looked for a fresh set of eyes to put in a critical leadership position…”
And if you are one of the people who takes Nikki Haley at face value, as her supporters tend to do, and you don’t know or care about Darla Moore or the University of South Carolina — you just like to cheer on your Nikki — that will suffice. In with the new, out with the old. She will feel in no way obligated to explain what was wrong with Darla Moore’s service on the board, or to cite any of the exciting new ideas that her appointee brings to the table that were previously missing. No one will expect that of her; it probably wouldn’t even occur to her to think about it. The governor will skate on this with these people — this is something that is core to her whole approach to politics ever since she transformed herself into the darling of the Tea Party in preparation for her run for this office for which she was so unprepared.
This WORKS for her. She skates on this, just as — with the voters she cares about — she will skate on apparently having told a prospective employer in 2007 that she was making $125,000 a year when she was telling the IRS that she made $22,000. This will matter not. People are just picking at her. The nasty, powerful, status quo people — those people who hang out at the Capital City Club! — are picking at Nikki because they’re mean, you see. (By the way, on the “petty” vs. “outrageous” spectrum, the thing on the job application is more the typical “petty” violation of her alleged principles that we have come to expect; the Darla Moore thing, dealing as it does with the leadership of such an important state institution, is more of an “outrage.” If you’re keeping score.)
She will not only skate, but her supporters — or at least, this is what the governor banks on — will continue, in spite of all evidence, to see her as a champion of transparency, a reformer, a nemesis of “politics as usual” and patron saint of Good Government. Which just, you know, boggles the mind if you’re the sensible sort who thinks about things.
That’s the plan, anyway. And that’s why she did this, and really doesn’t care if you, or the university, or the business community, or Darla Moore don’t like it.