Category Archives: Republicans

RGA ad reminds us that real-life national politics is WAY stupider than ‘House of Cards’

Vincent Sheheen’s campaign is lashing back at the Republican Governor’s Association ads attacking him for supporting Medicaid expansion.

It is, as the Democrat says and The Washington Post has noted, bizarre for him to be attacked for that when the chairman of the RGA, Chris Christie, supports that part of the Affordable Care Act, too. As have other Republican governors.

Note the Democrats’ spoof of the RGA ad below.

But that’s not what is most remarkable about the original ad. What is most remarkable about it is just how unbelievably stupid it is. Rather than discuss the merits of Medicaid expansion and making whatever arguments it can come up with against the idea, the ad simply says “Obamacare” over and over and over and over.

Yes, we know that that one neologism sums up the entire national Republican strategy for 2014 (even more than it did in, let’s see, 2010 and 2012). Everything else — such as the crusade against spending that was once deemed so important that it was worth destroying the full faith and credit of the national government to fight — has been shoved aside for that.

But come on, people. Make an effort to form a coherent thought here.

Anyone trying to find a logical train of thought in this ad will likely get a headache instead. It opens, for instance, with “Well first, Sheheen supported much of Obamacare. But then, he refused to support the lawsuit to stop it.” The narrator’s voice drips with irony. But in what universe would there be a “but” joining those two thoughts? Why would anyone who supported much of a thing join in a lawsuit to stop it?

After that, anyone trying to think about the ad is sufficiently thrown off balance that he hardly has the attention span left to protest that the bit about “millions of families losing their health plans” has absolutely zero to do with what Sheheen favors, that it is in fact the opposite of what he favors, since he wants to expand coverage. And since when did Medicaid expansion cost jobs? I thought it was refusing to expand Medicaid that cost jobs. Wait a second…

But the ad is over. And all you’re left with is this echo of “Obamacare, Obamacare.”

Let’s give the people who made this ad some credit. Let’s assume they’re smart enough to know that the ad doesn’t make sense, that they’re just being stunningly cynical. But they certainly believe the rest of us are stupid enough to go along.

Now, finally… I said this ad was “remarkable” for its insult to our intelligence. But that was a poor choice of words. Most political ads are more or less this stupid.

Last night, I saw the last episode of the new season of “House of Cards.” This morning, I saw this ad. And I’m struck by how much stupider real-life national politics is than what is depicted on that show. Frank Underwood and his fellow plotters may be amoral, wicked, devious and manipulative. But at least they seem to be clever about it.

It’s hard to see any sign of anything remotely like cleverness or subtlety in the way politics is actually conducted in this country — particularly on the national level. Which is why it’s so offensive to see a state election such as this one nationalized. Again.

Davis, other SC senators push to legalize CBD oil

This comes from Tom Davis:

Statement by SC State Senator Tom Davis

 

Earlier today, SC State Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) filed S1035, a bill whose objective is to allow doctors in South Carolina to prescribe Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a non-psychoactive chemical in cannabis, to South Carolina patients who suffer with intractable epilepsy.  The following state senators have signed onto S1035 as cosponsors: Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown), Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington), Larry Martin (R-Pickens), Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley), Lee Bright (R-Greenville), and Luke Rankin (R-Horry).   A copy of the bill is attached.

 

Davis said he recently became aware of the therapeutic benefits of CBD oil when one of his constituents, Harriett Hilton, told him about her six-year-old granddaughter, Mary Louise Swing, who resides in Mt. Pleasant.  A picture of Mary Louise is attached.  “Harriett told me that Mary Louise sometimes suffers up to 100 epileptic seizures an hour,” Davis said, “and that none of the drugs prescribed by her doctors at the MUSC Epilepsy Center has provided relief.  Harriett also told me that Mary Louise’s caregivers at MUSC believe CBD might help, but that the law prevents them from prescribing it to her.   That is morally wrong, and the purpose of S1035 is to jumpstart a process to remove those legal barriers.”

 

Scientific and clinical studies have confirmed CBD’s potential as an effective treatment for those with intractable epilepsy.  Accordingly, last fall the federal Food and Drug Administration green-lighted clinical studies of CBD as an anti-seizure medication at two research universities in New York and San Francisco.  The drug — manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, called “Epidiolex™,” and in the form of a liquid that is administered orally with a syringe dropper – is currently being prescribed by doctors to patients with intractable epilepsy at the NYU School of Medicine and at University of California at San Francisco.

 

“The doctors and medical research facilities at MUSC are every bit as good as those in New York and San Francisco,” Davis said. “I want to legally empower MUSC and its epileptologists to prescribe CBD oil to those with intractable epilepsy like Mary Louise, and S1035 outlines the critical path to making that happen.”

 

S1035 would revise a South Carolina law passed in 1980 titled “The Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act of 1980,” which authorized DHEC to engage in clinical studies regarding certain medical therapeutic uses of marijuana. That 1980 law has never been funded and has lain dormant, and Davis says it’s time to breathe life into it.  “I realize that federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance,” said Davis. “But as the FDA itself has acknowledged, it makes no sense to ban CBD oil, a non-psychoactive chemical derived from cannabis.  You can’t get high on it and it has no street value, and it makes zero sense to legally prohibit doctors from prescribing something that would relieve their patients’ suffering.”

 

######

Of all the legalization arguments I’ve heard and seen, this one makes the most sense.

Haley looking very Chris Christie today. I just hope she doesn’t put on unhealthy pounds

windbreaker

While typing my last post, I was listening to Nikki Haley’s live presser about the weather. Occasionally, I would glance over, and was struck by how the gov had adopted the standard Chris Christie disaster couture, with the dark blue windbreaker and everything. (Although she added a stylish white turtleneck.)

I’m telling myself this doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean she’s going to stop lanes of I-20 going through Kershaw County just to punish Vincent Sheheen or anything. And so far, it doesn’t look like she’s packing on any unhealthy pounds.

Apparently, this has become the national standard for a governor wanting to show that he or she is in Complete Weather Disaster Command and Control Mode. Like a general getting out of Class A’s and into fatigues — or rather, like what that would have meant decades ago, before generals started going to the office every day in BDUs.

Anyway, it just struck me as an interesting visual. Increasingly, we think in visual symbols rather than words, don’t we?

And are we next going to see Gov. Haley walking alongside President Obama, showing him the devastation wreaked on our state? Probably not… although I see she has sought a federal emergency declaration, which I found ironic…

article-snl-1118

So I’m in Hilton Head, and I’m OK. Honest

That's me, blown up beyond recognition, during the panel discussion.

That’s me, blown up beyond recognition, during the panel discussion.

Concern has been expressed that I haven’t posted since Friday.

But I’m OK. I just had a busy weekend, and a busier Monday.

Today, I drove down to Hilton head to moderate a panel at PRT’s annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel. Really; it’s a thing. It has a hashtag and everything.

I moderated a panel of legislators talking tourism topics. Panelists were:

  1. Sen. Yancey McGill, D-Williamsburg
  2. Rep. W. Brian White, R-Anderson (chairman of Ways and Means)
  3. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg
  4. Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort

Mostly they were all very friendly to tourism. Rep Erickson wasn’t the only one favoring beach renourishment, for instance, even though she was the only one from an entirely coastal district.

If there was a split, it came when we talked about funding for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.

And it wasn’t a particularly stark division.

The audience was very much against using tourism-directed funds, such as the hospitality and accommodations taxes, for roads. The entire panel expressed sympathy with that position. But when it came to increasing the gasoline tax, only the Democrats — who don’t have to worry about Tea Party opponents in upcoming primaries — were unapologetically for it.

But Chairman White seemed to be willing to go for the idea theoretically, at some unspecified point in the future.

It’s interesting — in my experience, the gas tax is the one tax that conservatives (regular, old-fashioned, Chamber of Commerce-type conservatives, not the latter-day Tea Party kind) are usually willing to back. But it’s a problem for Republicans in SC, after the governor’s promise to veto any such increase.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this issue develops going forward — IF it develops…

Slate writer sticks up for Tim Scott

William Saletan, over on Slate, defends Tim Scott from the scurrilous things that the head of the NC NAACP said about him in Columbia recently:

Let’s set aside, for the moment, the policy disputes between Democrats and the Tea Party. You may think, as I do, that most of the Tea Party is wrongheaded, and that much of it is unhinged. But that’s not the point here. The point is that William Barber has never met Tim Scott. And none of Barber’s reported comments address Scott’s legislation or his career.Tim Scott

To put it in terms any NAACP leader should understand, Barber has prejudged Scott. He has prejudged him as a puppet based on the senator’s color and his party. This prejudgment fits a long tradition of epithets: Uncle Tomhouse negrooreo. The fact that these epithets tend to be used more by black people than by white people doesn’t change what they add up to: a racial stereotype.

We can argue all day about the Tea Party, Republican policies, and what Martin Luther King would have stood for today. To me, the core of his message was the right to be treated as an individual. His dream was, in his words, a nation in which his children would be judged not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Tim Scott has that right, too…

Saletan is completely right.

But even if he weren’t, I’d sit up and take notice, because of the relative novelty of reading such an opinion on Slate. It would mean even more if he were a typical Slate writer, rather than sort of being their house iconoclast (he calls himself a “liberal Republican”). Because any reasonable person — left, right or (best of all!) UnParty — should be fair-minded enough to stick up for Scott’s right to be considered as an individual.

Haley versus Deal on handling the snowstorm

The S.C. Democratic Party rather joyfully brings attention to this item that describes the back-and-forth between Nikki Haley and the office of her counterpart in Georgia, Nathan Deal.

The piece quotes this from the Charleston Regional Business Journal about Nikki’s complaints in a speech to a civic club about the mess in Atlanta:

Haley, who was in Charleston on Tuesday for a speech to members of the Historic Rotary Club of Charleston, said her brother was stuck on an interstate in Atlanta for 27 hours because of the snow and ice.

“While I was trying to fix South Carolina, I was furious at Georgia for not taking care of that,” she said.

She complimented South Carolina’s Department of TransportationDepartment of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies, as well as the state’s National Guard, for their work during the storm.

“When you go through a storm, whether it’s a hurricane or winter storm, our team stands ready,” Haley said. “I am very proud of team South Carolina and the way they handled the storm.”…

And then it provides this response from the Georgia governor’s office:

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson offered this when confronted with Haley’s jab:

“To say South Carolina did a better job responding to the storm than Georgia is like saying Tennessee did a better job than Louisiana responding to Hurricane Katrina. We experienced completely different weather events.”

Chris Christie no longer the front-runner. This week.

Taegan Goddard over at Political Wire says it’s “Time to start calling Chris Christie the former GOP frontrunner.”

And he presents good arguments in support of that statement. He says Christie’s main strength was his crossover appeal — the GOP base loved him not — but according to a new poll, he’s lost ground among Democrats, Independents and women and:

Without holding the electability card, Christie has little chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination. It’s just one more example of how quickly fortunes can turn in politics.

Yes, exactly. I seem to recall that in the fall of 2011 and into early 2012, the GOP field had a different front-runner every week. And then the musical chairs game ended, and Mitt Romney, the original front-runner, was the only one with a seat.bak3jqccqaeb15s

So Chris Christie is out of it this week. And next week, too. But who knows what will transpire during the 145 weeks left until Election Day 2016? People are disenchanted with Christie now, but that’s in a vacuum. Whom will they love better? And what will be that person’s “electability?”

The most important question in politics is, “Compared to what?” Or perhaps I should say, “Compared to whom?” And the comparisons have not yet begun.

If Nikki Haley’s playing politics, that’s good news, too

So if Thigpen's right, we're much less likely to see scenes such as this one this year.

So if Thigpen’s right, we’re much less likely to see scenes such as this one this year.

Having trouble finding anything substantive not to like in Nikki Haley’s education and other proposals, some critics are saying she’s just playing election-year politics.

Well, if that’s the case, that’s good news, too. In fact, unless you’re a Democrat trying to unseat her, it’s hard to see where the downside is for you here.

That occurred to me reading the following, written by Schuyler Kropf at The Post and Courier:

Democrats — and even some political talking heads — were quick to point out Haley’s attention to education and mental health could easily be seen as attempts to neutralize her Democratic opposition.

“They must feel it’s a more moderate electorate out there,” retired Francis Marion University political scientist Neal Thigpen said Monday in assessing her administration’s 2014 spending ideas.

Thigpen, who has followed Republican politics in the state for years, said the most obvious political target in her budget is announced Democratic challenger, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden.

Haley’s camp must see a need in “trying to block him out,” Thigpen added, “and being ahead of him in trying to blunt those issues that he may be able to use.”…

Look again at what Neal Thigpen just said…

“They must feel it’s a more moderate electorate out there…”

If Nikki Haley and her people are looking around them and seeing a more reasonable world than the one that elected them in the Year of The Tea Party, then that’s gotta be a good thing, right?

So, if that’s correct, her speeches this year will be less about throwing red meat to people who hate government, and more about good governance. Which Vincent Sheheen will be doing as well, because he always does that. Which means that no matter which of them is elected, that person will be committed to such basic things as better schools, and better care for the mentally ill.

Which as I say, is a good thing for all South Carolinians…

If not Christie, then who? I’m serious here…

TonySoprano

I’ve had this image in my head of a strong, pragmatic New Jersey-style leader. Oops, wrong image…

If Chris Christie is truly knocked out of the running for the GOP nomination in 2016, then who will take his place?

No, that’s not a setup for a list. I was wondering whether y’all had anybody in mind. I can think of only two categories:

  1. Unbending ideological extremists.
  2. People most of us, possibly including me, have never heard of.

Regarding that second category: You may say that there’s somebody great out there that I’m not thinking of. But in my book, someone I haven’t heard of has next to no chance to gain my confidence between now and 2016. When it comes to doling out (more or less) extreme executive power, trust is a cumulative process with me. It takes time for me to be able to see someone as president.

I was feeling pretty good there looking at a Clinton-Christie matchup, as it meant the choice would be two people I felt moderately good about. That is to say, I wouldn’t have seen the election of either as a disaster, which gave me a small measure confidence about the nation’s future. After her four years as SecState, I felt better about Hillary than I did in 2008. And after watching Chris the last couple of years, I thought I saw the kind of pragmatic governor that I like.

In any case, he was the only Republican I could think of that I felt kinda OK about (while Hillary is kinda the only Democrat I can think of, good or bad).

So… if he’s knocked out… what happens?

Nice to see Tom Davis backing away from nullification

I’ve always seen Tom Davis as a (mostly) reasonable man, and have been distressed to see his drift into extremism over the last couple of years.

So I’m pleased to see him take a deliberate step away from the antebellum notion of Nullification:

Davis,TomCOLUMBIA, SC — A Republican lawmaker says he plans to take the “nullification” out of the Obamacare nullification bill before the state Senate….

“The conversation really has gotten off the rails a little bit,” Davis said Wednesday, after holding three public hearings across the state that drew hundreds. “Everybody talks about nullification. This isn’t nullification. We can’t nullify.”…

Amen to that, senator. No, we can’t. That’s been pretty clear ever since 1865, if not sooner.

But it’s a bit disingenuous for Tom to act like other people have somehow gone “off the rails” with all this nullification talk:

  • I remember his presence at this Ron Paul press conference at which nullification was spoken of approvingly.
  • Then there was his speech at a… Nullification Rally… at which he praised John C. Calhoun as “a great man who has been maligned far too long.” And by the way, Tom himself called it a “nullification rally” when he thanked someone for putting up video of his speech.

So… Tom no longer wants to nullify Obamacare. However, he does want to sabotage it, to do all he can to make it fail. Which is not the most positive attitude I’ve ever heard of with regard to respecting laws legitimately passed by the Congress.

But this is progress…

U.S. House passes bipartisan budget deal without childish theatrics. No really; I’m not making this up…

See, you can read about it in black and white:

The House passed an 2-year bipartisan budget deal Thursday evening, possibly signaling a truce in the spending showdowns that have paralyzed Washington for the past three years.

Approval of the budget was the House’s final action of 2013. Earlier Thursday, lawmakers agreed unanimously to approve the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets military pay and policy, and to extend current agricultural policy after negotiators failed to complete a new Farm Bill….

The budget deal appeared to mark a significant shift by House Republicans away from the uncompromising confrontation of recent years fueled by tea party-aligned politicians and outside conservative advocacy groups. After multiple standoffs and threatened defaults and one actual shutdown, polls show that the Republican brand has been badly damaged among voters, and even some of the most conservative Republicans said they were ready for a breather.

If the Senate approves the budget bill next week, as expected, members of the House and Senate appropriations committees would then work over the holidays to prepare funding bills for individual government agencies, which are likely to be combined into a single omnibus bill. …

Doesn’t that sound almost like the way grownups would legislate? This is not being hailed as the long-sought “grand bargain” or anything, but it’s something remarkable anyway, given the material we’re working with here. Which is to say, the membership of the House.

Here’s a press release from Joe Wilson about it:

Wilson Statement on the Passage of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement  

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) released the following statement after the House passed a bipartisan budget resolution.  This legislation provides two years of budget certainty for the federal government. In years past, the federal government has operated under continuing resolutions.

 

“When I was elected to Congress, I promised to help make a difference. The status quo is not working,” Congressman Joe Wilson said. “Government overspending while racking up trillion-dollar deficits is irresponsible, especially when we know that our children and grandchildren will be faced with the burden.

 

“House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was able to reduce spending from its current levels to help pay down our debt without raising taxes.  For years, House Republicans have spent the better part of December in battles with Washington Democrats in hopes of not raising taxes so that the American people could keep more of their hard-earned paychecks.

 

“Additionally, President Obama’s sequester, which targets the military, has already limited our Armed Forces’ abilities to protect themselves and defend our freedoms.  Military installations across South Carolina and the Savannah River Site have faced challenges, which undermine our national security.  I have warned against the horrible impacts sequestration would impose and have done my best to advocate for those who are suffering within South Carolina’s Second Congressional District.  I am very pleased that Chairman Ryan was successful in finding common-sense reforms to replace sequestration that will not place families at risk.

 

“The road ahead will be difficult as budget debates continue for years to come.  However, we must remain hopeful that we can achieve spending reductions while promoting limited-government solutions that create jobs and spur economic growth.”

Yeah, I know — “President Obama’s sequester.” I didn’t say the partisans up there had stopped with the silly talk. But let’s focus on the action rather than the words here.

Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham says he will not vote for the deal when it reaches the Senate:

Graham to Oppose Budget Agreement

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he would vote against the budget agreement when it comes to the Senate floor.

 

“After careful review of the agreement, I believe it will do disproportionate harm to our military retirees,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  “Our men and women in uniform have served admirably during some of our nation’s most troubling times.  They deserve more from us in their retirement than this agreement provides.”

 

Graham noted the budget deal contains a one percent reduction in cost of living benefits for some military retirees.  The provision could significantly impact military retiree benefits.  For example:

 

·         A 42-year old who retires as an enlisted E-7 could lose a minimum of $72,000.

·         A 42-year old Lt. Colonel could lose a minimum of $109,000.

Source: Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)

 

“I support comprehensive, not piecemeal, pay and benefit reform to deal with rising military personnel costs,” said Graham.

 

“I truly appreciate Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray for their work trying to write a budget that provides relief to the Department of Defense,” concluded Graham.  “But this agreement doesn’t do enough to protect those who have spent their lives protecting our nation.”

 

#####

This is actually fairly consistent for Graham, who since the start has found the sequester appalling because of what it did to the military.

But isn’t it intriguing that in this moment when even Tea Party types are disciplining themselves to pass compromise legislation, trying to make up for the damage they’ve done to the GOP, Lindsey Graham is the guy standing up and saying, “No?”

 

The Fix cites Graham in describing GOP senators’ woes

This is from The Fix blog at The Washington Post:

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.) surprised the political world Monday when he filed at the last minute to challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), complicating the senator’s reelection bid just when it looked to be virtually problem-free….

Stockman is far from an A-list challenger. He has a knack for controversial statements and a dearth of campaign funds. But among a Texas GOP electorate in which Cornyn is no hero, he shouldn’t be counted out.

Nor should underdog tea party-aligned challengers to Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.),Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), or Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) have drawn higher-caliber opponents….

That’s probably about the way to put it with Alexander. It’s not exactly that he’s in trouble, so much as you can’t count his many challengers out — especially if one of the stronger ones gets him into a runoff.

When I hear that Lamar Alexander — whom I covered in his successful gubernatorial election way back in 1978 — is in trouble, it tells me Republicans in Tennessee have gone nuts while I wasn’t watching them.

He’s one of the dwindling number of sensible people in Washington.

Duncan praises Mandela, runs into buzzsaw of criticism

Rep. Jeff Duncan posted the following on his Facebook page last night:

Every so often God places upon the Earth an individual with the power to change humanity’s destiny for the better. One of those very special people was Nelson Mandela. His compassion, grace, and mercy created ripples across every corner of the globe. His fight for equality and justice for all mankind helped to further ingrain on our souls the truth that we are all born with the right to be free. Nelson Mandela set an example that we would be wise to follow for all time, and tonight the world is collectively mourning this loss.

Here are some of the responses he received:

Brent Heaton This may be the politically correct thing to do but I must disagree with this one. He was no example to be followed.

Roxie Todd Kincannon I agree with Margaret Thatcher. Mandela was a communist sympathizer and a terrorist. You can’t pal around with the likes of Fidel Castro and Muammar al-Gaddafi unless share their beliefs. You know the old saying about birds of a feather.

Chris Corley What? He took a first world nation and turned into a third world country. That is quite an accomplishment. Maybe Obama is the second coming of Ol’ Nelson?

Larry R Smith Jeff I am absolutely disappointed in you; What are you trying to do win the Black vote in Pickens County. Nelson was a racist, murder, terrorist, and a devote Marxist. Have you not read any of the books about this man? There is plenty of info out there about him.

David Merck I would not follow Mandela’s example in a million years!

Cheyenne Hoyle McLendon Who are you people ??!!…other than haters….Hitler ?

Danny Cooper Yeah I’m a hater! I hate: Progressives, Socialist, Communists, Marxists, Racists, & Liberals. That’s all I can think of for now, but if I come up with more I’ll add them later.

Larry R Smith Shame on you Jeff!!!!!

Samuel Lawrence The Truth About Nelson Mandela…
The ugly truth about the world’s favourite terrorist-turned-politician, Nelson Mandela, has been buried deep beneath the media-created myth of the man, who for decades has been given such a whitewashing by the liberal/Socialist media that the real Mandela disappeared from the world’s eyes, and in his place appeared a messiah, a saviour, a demigod, whose only resemblance to the real Mandela was the outer shell. The man who emerged from prison and became president of South Africa was at heart the same man who had gone into prison so many years before, a Communist revolutionary, much older but just as committed to the ideology and the revolution as he had been when the prison gates slammed shut on him. Yet by the time he emerged from prison, the worldwide liberal/leftist media had repackaged him, presenting him to the world as a wise, big-hearted, moderate, decent man, who had been unjustly imprisoned for his stand against apartheid, and who would, when he became president of South Africa, govern this complex and diverse country with wisdom and magnanimity, creating a wonderful earthly paradise where all would live happily ever after. 
http://www.biblebasedministries.co.uk/…/lest-we-forget…/

And so forth…

SC GOP has nothing to fear from Obamacare

On a previous post, Burl brought our attention to an item on Daily Kos, under a picture of Nikki Haley:

Even in South Carolina, a state hostile to Obamacare expansion, hundreds of thousands of people are benefiting just from greater awareness of existing government programs for which they do qualify. And while most of those beneficiaries are children, those children have families who would appreciate access to similar services, if only Republicans would get out of the way.

But South Carolina is solidly Red, right? Romney won the state by 11 points, right? So it doesn’t matter! Except that in raw totals, Romney won by around 204,000 votes. And Republicans assume (perhaps rightly) that every Obamacare beneficiary will become much more favorable toward the government. And if you start thinking government can help you, Republicans don’t stand a chance….

That’s why Republicans continue to fight tooth and nail against Obamacare, from seeking its repeal to sabotaging its rollout. It’s an existential crisis. The more people benefit, the harder it will be for them to argue that government is irreparably broken and must be drowned in Grover Norquist’s bathtub.

Yeah, well…

I don’t think that’s right. That sounds like a liberal thinking wishfully.

Nationally, maybe Republicans worry about that. And it’s the kind of thing the Mark Sanfords of the world — the serious, more theoretical, pre-Tea Party libertarians who think in terms of a historical, apocalyptic dialectic in which democracy is doomed once people figure out they can vote themselves benefits — also fret over.

But as long as the following two conditions remain, the SC GOP as a whole has nothing to fear:

  • The GOP continues to attract most white voters in the state.
  • White voters outnumber black voters.

That’s because of a couple of characteristics commonly found among white South Carolinians: For centuries, the surest way to get their blood boiling has been to suggest that someone out there (i.e., the federal government) is messing in their business, trampling on their prerogatives. (How else do you think so many thousands who did not own slaves were persuaded to fight in the Confederate cause?) Add to that a deep resentment — that is certainly not confined to SC whites, but is a characteristic many of them share — at the idea that some undeserving someone is getting something, and they, the deserving salt-of-the-earth people, are paying for it.

Now someone’s going to get bent all out of shape and say I’m calling good, conservative Republican folk racists. But I’m not. Review my words. In fact, I’ll assert that even if more whites than blacks benefit from new health benefits, these attitudes remain the same.

What I’m describing are a couple of widely held political impulses, neither of which is inherently racist (even though those issues have gotten tangled up in race through our history). Both attitudes can be strongly defended, even though, with my communitarian leanings, I tend to portray them negatively.

The urge to self-determination is a natural impulse of the human soul. “State’s rights” may have gotten a bad rap historically because of its association with segregation, but the idea itself — that as many governmental decisions as possible should be made on the most local levels — is a sound one, closely related to subsidiarity, which I extol.

And there’s nothing wrong with not wanting one’s tax money wasted. If benefits are indeed going to “undeserving” recipients, then it’s only human to resent it.

The way race comes into my calculation arises simply from the fact that generally speaking, those two attitudes are more often found to motivate white voters than black voters.

Am I wrong about that? I don’t think so. Near as I can tell, whether these factors are openly acknowledged or not, both parties tend to operate on the assumption that these things are true…

We don’t need outsiders calling our governor a ‘clown’

crew

Back in the first few years that I was back here in SC — I want to say it was about the time of the Lost Trust scandal in 1990; in any case, it was a time when we were struggling with some huge problem in Columbia — The Charlotte Observer ran a short, dismissive, truly snotty editorial asking what was up with South Carolina, and comparing us to the Three Stooges.

That was it. There was no serious analysis of the problem, and no recommendation (that I recall) on how to make it better. Just a setup for comparing South Carolina to the Stooges. Ha-ha.

Something crystallized for me in that moment. I had been a longtime admirer of the Observer before I came to work here. But since my return here in 1987, I had noticed that its coverage of my home state had a certain tone to it — a scornful fascination based in a concept of SC as the other; as a vastly inferior other that existed to make folks in that corner of NC feel good about themselves.

I fully realized what had bothered me as soon as I read that editorial. I felt that the Observer couldn’t care less whether things got better in SC, as long as we provided our betters with entertainment. (If I’m correct on the timing, this was at the time that I was conceiving of the year-long Power Failure project analyzing what was really wrong with SC, and offering a specific path to fixing the problems. So I had a markedly different attitude: I cared.)

Anyway, I was reminded of that Three Stooges moment when Celeste Headlee brought my attention to CREW’s second list of the nation’s worst governors. (CREW, by the way, is the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government.)

For those of you interested in such things, of the 18 governors on the list, only two — Andrew Cuomo and Steven Beshear — are Democrats (Scott Walker makes the list for being anti-union, and accepting contributions from people who are also anti-union — really; those are his “sins”). But I’m less concerned with the fact that CREW doesn’t live up to its self-professed partisan impartiality than the fact that, by publishing a list such as this one, the organization gives the lie to the “responsibility” part of its name.

Of course, our own governor makes the list. And that would be OK, if CREW had some helpful criticism. Here’s what it has to say about Gov. Haley. I won’t bother repeating it since there’s no news in it. She’s been roundly criticized for these things in this space. But I stand today to defend her.

My beef is with the overall way that this list is presented. Someone thought it would be cute to give the list a circus theme. The 18 governors are divided into three groups — the “Ringmasters,” the “Clowns,” and the “Sideshows.”

Nikki Haley is listed among the six “Clowns.”

I’m mystified as to the reasoning behind this equal division into three groups. What, our governor is a “Clown,” but Rick Perry makes “Ringmaster”? Really? If someone forced you to pick one of them as a “Clown,” how could you pick her over him?

Beyond that, there is no evidence provided of her clownishness. I didn’t see anything funny in any of the things said about her. It is simply not a defensible metaphor.

Let me say unequivocally that Nikki Haley is not a clown. She’s a perfectly serious, earnest young woman who governs as well as she can, according to her lights.

She does not deserve to be called a clown.

And if CREW really cared about responsibility in government, it would desist from this kind of immature, dismissive, unhelpful nonsense. This is the kind of destructive thing the political parties do — denigrate and demean and utterly dismiss all with whom they disagree, making it impossible for people wearing different labels to work together toward the common good.

On its About Us page, CREW moans,

Many Americans have given up on our political system, writing off our elected leaders…

Well, you know why? Because (at least in part) of dismissive junk such as this.

If you have something constructive to say, say it. If you have any specific, serious advice to offer the people of South Carolina, we’re all ears — really. Not all of us have “We Don’t CARE How You Did It Up North” bumper stickers on our vehicles (although, admittedly, some of us do). Let’s hear your prescription.

But if you have nothing more helpful to offer than to call our governor a “clown,” then just shut up about it.

Tim Scott, twice refusing to endorse senior colleague Graham

The State‘s new Buzz blog (I’m trying to remember whether this is the paper’s first serious attempt at a state and national political blog since I got laid off, but perhaps such reflections are ignoble of me) brought my attention to the above clip. Their account (like I’m gonna retype if it I don’t have to) of it:

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott passed twice on saying whether he would endorse his fellow S.C. senator, Republican Lindsey Graham, in an interview on CNN’s Crossfire Wednesday.

When CNN’s Van Jones asked Scott whether he would support Graham, Scott said, “You know, as you three have heard recently, I am up for re — up for reelection myself. I’m going to make sure that Tim Scott gets out…I’m going to allow for all the other folks on the ballot to represent themselves very well, and I’m going to continue to work hard for my re-election.”

“No endorsement for Lindsey Graham tonight?” Jones asked again.

Scott replied, “I’m certainly going to work really hard for Tim Scott re-election — gotta win first.”…

I sort of doubt that Sen. Graham’s going to be sitting up nights trying to think of favors he can do for Sen. Scott in the foreseeable future.

I was particularly struck by the way he stopped himself from saying “re-election,” then went ahead and said it anyway. The question seems to have had him pretty flustered…

tim scott

Another primary opponent for Graham: Bill Connor

Bill Connor is still playing it rather coy with his Facebook peeps:

Friends, I have a major announcement to make on Monday, but this weekend I plan to focus on military obligations (spending time with my Citadel teaching team) and spending the other time with my family. I appreciate that many calls and texts, and e-mails and will be in touch with everyone next week. In the meantime, I will make a special request for your prayers for my family. “The Lord is my Shepherd” and I follow Him.

But The State reports that he’s actually already filed:

Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor, who lost the 2010 Republican runoff for lieutenant governor to Ken Ard, has filed to run against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in next June’s Republican primary, according to federal election documents.

Connor becomes the fourth Republican to oppose Graham in the primary, joining state Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg, Easley businessman Richard Cash and Charleston public-relations executive Nancy Mace…

When I saw him a couple of weeks back, Lindsey Graham indicated that as far as he was concerned, he loved having three opponents.

But four could be one too many. Also, i think he has a little more reason to worry about Bill Connor than about the others who have previously jumped into the ring.

Bill Connor

Bill Connor

He’s a somewhat more traditional conservative than his opponents — more the values-voter, God-and-Country type than the SC-should-print-its-own-money-again sort. Or at least, in the statements I’ve seen so far. He’s paid some dues in the party, currently serving as the 6th-District chairman. He’s got a solid military record, having served in a combat role in Afghanistan. He’s run a statewide primary race before (losing the lieutenant governor nomination to Ken Ard). And he’s just gone out and had new portraits taken of his family. (I still remember how deeply impressed John Courson was when Mark Sanford sent out family portraits as Christmas cards before running for governor: “Fine-looking family — Kennedyesque… Kennedyesque!” You have to imagine it in Courson’s distinctive voice and accent.)

Lt. Col. Connor could be a more likely vote-getter. That doesn’t mean the incumbent’s in trouble. But it does make things a little more interesting.

Hmm… Does Graham WANT Christie to campaign for him?

Graham, consoling the family after Lee Bandy's funeral.

Graham, consoling the family after Lee Bandy’s funeral.

This morning, the national buzz is all about Chris Christie having positioned himself so well for the presidency in 2016. The talk is so far along that I couldn’t resist joking:

rigmarole

But the very qualities that make Christie attractive as a general-election candidate (Republicans are fairly swooning over his getting 51 percent of the Latino vote) get him in trouble with the national GOP base. Most of it is silly, symbolic stuff, such as his making nice with President Obama (you know, the guy who was rushing billions in aid toward his state) after the hurricane. But you know how the base (in each of the parties) can be about the silly, symbolic stuff.

In fact, the reservations harbored by many of the people who, had they been in Virginia, would have voted for Ken Cuccinelli are such that I find myself wondering about this:

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) re-election bid will evidently get a lift from one of the most popular governors in the country and a top 2016 contender….

According to the Times, Christie informed Republicans in South Carolina he intends to go to bat for Graham, who is facing a GOP primary next year.

poll released last week showed Graham’s approval rating taking a big hit in South Carolina, including a steep drop among GOP voters. …

Yeahhh… that’s the thing. The GOP voters who are mad at Graham are likely to be the ones least charmed by Christie.

So, I ask — is Christie coming here a plus or a minus for Graham? Thoughts?

Graham to block all Obama nominees over Benghazi

This morning, Lindsey Graham Tweeted:

We now know #Benghazi was the result of a pre-planned terrorist attack by high-level al-Qaeda operatives. It was never a protest of a video.

And I responded:

But haven’t we known that for a year — like, from the first week….?

I still don’t get the intensity and duration of Sen. Graham’s umbrage toward the administration over the horrible events at Benghazi 13 months ago. Particularly since I don’t recall the cover-up; I distinctly remember reading that administration officials were saying it was a terrorist attack within hours after first reports came in.

And now — this indiscriminate use of the Senate’s advice-and-consent power, and of one senator’s ability to gum up the works, seems contrary to Graham’s own principles:

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday he will hold up “every appointment” in the Senate until more questions are answered on Benghazi.

“I’m going to block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors [of the attack in Benghazi] are being made available to the Congress,” Graham said on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends.” “I’m tired of hearing from people on TV and reading about stuff in books.”…

Is he not the guy who goes around saying that elections have consequences, and that the president’s wishes regarding nominees should be respected, barring strong, specific reasons to the contrary? So how can he block all nominations, regardless of the respective merits in each case, in order to try to force the administration to do something unrelated? Whatever happened to the spirit of the Gang of 14?

This escalation is said to have been brought on by a “60 Minutes” segment last night. I can see how the senator might be incensed to see CBS reporting things that the administration refuses to provide to Congress.

But this blanket blocking of nominees seems disproportionate to me…

Graham: Mace partnership with Folks ‘might come up’

Lindsey Graham pays respects to Mary Bandy and other members of the family on Saturday.

Lindsey Graham pays respects to Mary Bandy and other members of the family on Saturday.

I’m writing this as a tribute to Lee Bandy, because if he’d been there and heard this, funeral or not, he’d have jumped on it.

As Aaron Sheinin related in an earlier post, Lee would wait until people like me got done with the wonkish, nerdy political stuff, and ask questions about the horse race — such as the one that irritated John McCain so much

Anyway, I mentioned standing in line with Lindsey Graham for a considerable time at the reception after Lee’s funeral, and we talked about a number of things, including the horse race stuff that was always Bandy’s meat.

I mentioned his three primary opponents, and he expressed his great satisfaction that he has three opponents. That number, he said, seems just about right for his purposes.

He seemed to marvel particularly at the great gift of having Lee Bright running against him. He said he doesn’t have to do much more than mention how it just might put a crimp in business in South Carolina if we were to abandon the U.S. dollar.

I mentioned something about Nancy Mace’s longtime partnership (just ended) with Will Folks in FITSnews, and the senator said yeah, that association might come up in the campaign.

“You mean, you might bring it up?” I asked.

Not exactly, he said. Just… it might come up.

Yeah, I guess it might…

Actually, I’m not entirely sure that would be a bad thing for Nancy with the voters she (and Bright, and Richard Cash) is going after. There are probably a lot of Will’s loyal readers in that demographic. Others, however, may be put off by the fact that news stories about the site tend to say something like this in the lede: “a website whose editor, Will Folks, said GOP Gov. Nikki Haley had an affair with him, a claim Haley denied.” Because a lot of those same voters they want love the governor, and consider that whole thing to be some kind of liberal media conspiracy to hurt their Nikki.

So, for Nancy Mace, her association with Will could be a wash…