Fall from grace says something about being Ken Ard, but almost nothing about being Republican

The State tried this morning to foreshadow the Ard resignation with two stories. One speculated on how Glenn McConnell will dodge the unthinkable fate of being demoted to the useless, meaningless job of lieutenant governor. The other dealt with the phenomenon we’ve seen plenty of over the last couple of years — the state Democratic Party’s Sisyphean efforts to somehow turn recent scandals to its advantage. An excerpt from the second one:

An agriculture commissioner indicted for cockfighting. A state treasurer indicted for cocaine use. A married governor caught lying about an international affair. A lieutenant governor spending campaign contributions on iPads. A state House member indicted on tax-evasion charges. Another state House member arrested on harassment charges.

What do all of those politicians have in common? They are all SC Republicans…

A brief comment on that (which I had on my mind before the Ard development): I’ve heard that litany over and over from SC Dems over the last couple of years, and it hasn’t gotten traction yet. Perhaps this latest development will give it a boost, but probably not. Nor should it.

There’s a simple reason why so many scandals affect Republicans: Most state officeholders are Republicans. If the Democrats dominated the way the Repubs do, most scandals would involved Democrats. There is nothing inherent in being a Republican that makes a person more likely to be a crook (or whatever), and it’s disingenuous of Democrats to pretend that there is.

Of course, they’re counting on the way voters have been fooled into thinking about politics to help them. Far too many people today believe what the parties, interest groups and tell them — that something that happens involving one member of a party somehow reflects on all member of that party. This is an absurd proposition, but like sleep-teaching in Brave New World, it has been repeated so often — with no competing views being heard — that most people accept it implicitly.

There is only one sense in which there might be an actual cause-and-effect relationship between being Republican in SC and being a the sort who would do something unsavory: People who are attracted to politics for the wrong reasons are more likely to pick the dominant party, to ease their path into office. People who choose the hapless, minority party are generally True Believers and less likely to be hustlers. Right now the Republicans are the dominant party. To suggest that Democrats would be more virtuous if they had all the power strains belief.

But  my ultimate point is this: Each person who behaves badly in office does so in his own way, and for his own reasons — not as a logical, direct result of his party affiliation. And its silly to pretend otherwise.

16 thoughts on “Fall from grace says something about being Ken Ard, but almost nothing about being Republican

  1. Doug Ross

    The bigger crime will be if Glenn McConnell is allowed to sidestep his constitutionally mandated obligation to move into the Lt. Governor spot.

    That would prove just how corrupt the legislature is. But we already knew that.

  2. Lynn

    It isn’t about party affiliation its about the mainstream press NOT doing their job to report on the candidates and not ignore the information that’s there.

    The saddest part is that SC politicians are such petty criminals.

  3. Phillip

    “There is nothing inherent in being a Republican that makes a person more likely to be a crook (or whatever), and it’s disingenuous of Democrats to pretend that there is.”

    I disagree. Of course you can’t make 100% blanket statements, and there have certainly been plenty of Democrats who bilk and swindle the public. But personal greed and the acquisition of personal wealth has been elevated to the highest moral level by the modern Republican party. Ken Ard is not a criminal: he is an entrepreneur. Government was simply his vehicle to pursue his right to wealth. These are fundamental Republican principles.

    Democrats are far more likely to get involved in sex scandals and the like. (the occasional Mark Sanford notwithstanding). I will say this: when a supposed progressive swindles the public for financial gain, it is an even greater crime than when a Republican does, because with that transgression comes the sin of utter hypocrisy and the betrayal of trust. No working-class person or individual of modest means (or “stray animal” in contemporary GOP parlance) should have any delusion that Ken Ard or Nikki Haley gives a rat’s you-know-what about them. So there’s no sense of disillusionment when something like this surfaces.

    So can you make 100% generalizations? No of course not. But I don’t agree with you that the philosophy of the GOP party (as structured today in its more radical form, not necessarily the one of the past) does not in some way facilitate, even encourage, this sort of pursuit of individual initiative. You just can’t be as blatantly obvious and clumsy as Ard was.

  4. bud

    If the Democrats dominated the way the Repubs do, most scandals would involved Democrats.

    Prove it. Another unsubstantiated charge in this FRED effort to maintain balance. In this instance there isn’t even an attempt to come up with an offsetting offense by the Dems, just conjecture made up out of whole cloth. Frankly the ethics violation are sometimes committed by Dems since they are human beings. The GOP on the other hand seems to dominate at both the state and national level. As does the bad behavior by their media supports such as Rush Limbaugh. Until you can prove these endless allegation Brad you just need to stop making them. Saying something doesn’t make it so.

  5. bud

    Rather than fight I’ll just go ahead and play the conjecture game:

    If Al Gore had won the 2000 election the 9-11 attacks would have been foiled, the economy would not have gone into recession and global warming would be solved.

    If Vincent Sheheen had won the governor’s race South Carolina would now rank among the nation’s leaders in job growth.

    If Jimmy Carter had won a second term we would have solved the inflation problem without going into a deep recession. In addition the U.S. would now be energy independent.

    If John Kennedy had not been assassinated the U.S. would not have gone into Vietnam.

    If Barack Obama had won the 2008 election the nation would be well on it’s way to recovering from the Bush recession; our troops would be out of Iraq; and Osama Bin-Laden and Mohmar Ghadaffi would be killed. Oh wait, those things really did happen. I guess President McCain is a better leader than I gave him credit for.

  6. Steven Davis II

    There are rumors floating around about an investigation of corruption and scandals within the State House the likes of Operation Lost Trust. Toss in the recent announcements of more and more career legislators not running for another term, there might actually be something to the rumors.

  7. bud

    Steven, you don’t smoke LSD, it’s usually swallowed like a pill, so no I didn’t smoke LSD in the 60s.

  8. Brad

    I would think you could, Steven. Just soak them in a strong acid solution, and let them dry out before lighting. Not sure how the body absorbs inhaled LSD, but I imagine it would work.

    A similar process to Thai sticks.

  9. `Kathryn Fenner

    Illinois, especially heavily Democratic Chicago/Cook County, has had its share of scandals.


    Two out of the three imprisoned governors are Republicans. Several Dems got dinged earlier, but it seems as though that was largely part of the patronage system. Dems are about “patronage” [“We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”] while, as Phillip says, Republicans elevate money-grabbing to a philosophy.

    In SC, there is little patronage in the old Chicago/New York systematic style, but a look at Haley’s choices: well, if it looks like a duck…

  10. Phillip

    I never heard of anybody really lacing pot with LSD. My understanding was that flame destroys LSD so you really couldn’t ingest it that way. Plus, if you had enough LSD to dip a joint in, that’s an awful lot of acid, and expensive (considering that a blotter hit of acid enough to send you on a 12-hour trip is the size of half your pinky fingernail). Pot is what you smoke on the way down from a trip to smooth the descent.

  11. Ralph Hightower

    I think it was the Florence County GOP that wanted the South Carolina GOP to adopt a policy that all Republican candidates running for office never did any of these things: 1) pre-marital sex; 2) extramarital sex; 3) look at pornography.

    Apparently Florence County GOP doesn’t have a problem with cockfighting, cocaine, money laundering, or personal use of campaign funds to buy football tickets, dresses for the missus, flat screen TV, iPads, Playstations, …


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