Category Archives: Republicans

Missing the point about the wicked Lowcountry

Last night before the results were in, a friend shared with me this Facebook update from John Dickerson of CBS and Slate:

If Mark Sanford wins tonight it will mark a real evolution for South Carolina as a state where values voters play a big role. Sanford, Gingrich’s win in the SC GOP primary. This is not the state where George Bush spoke at Bob Jones in 2000.

No, no, no. Apples and oranges. As I responded:

It’s the Lowcountry. Stuff like that never mattered as much in the Lowcountry. Bob Jones is in the part of the state where they think Charlestonians are all heathens.

I could have added, “drinking, swearing, gambling, fornicating heathens,” but it was a text, so I kept it short.

The Calvinist/fundamentalist part of the state, where Bob Jones is, is the Upstate. It’s like confusing Maine and Florida, only on a smaller scale. Charleston is where the hell-raisers live, and let live. It has always been thus.

Mr. Dickerson compounded his error with a piece in Slate this morning headlined, “Paris, South Carolina:”

South Carolina conservatives may still say a candidate’s sins matter, but they aren’t voting that way. In fact, if you weren’t privy to the state’s strong social conservative history, you could almost mistake South Carolinians for city folk—people who vote for experience, policy, and political leanings and show a sophisticate’s relativism toward personal moral failings. These days, South Carolinians seem almost Parisian when they enter the voting booth.

It’s a clever angle. And accurate, in that Charleston is, indeed the Paris of South Carolina. The difference is that South Carolina isn’t France.

It’s true that the values voters don’t have the impact statewide that they did back in the early 90s. The two strains of libertarianism (economic, not cultural) — the Club for Growth types who love Sanford, and the more populist Tea Party types who love Nikki Haley — have crowded them out to a great extent.

But they’re still here. And just because Sanford won in the Lowcountry doesn’t mean their influence isn’t still felt. Maybe he would have won in another part of the state. But winning down there doesn’t prove it.

The Gingrich angle that Dickerson brings up is indeed intriguing. But I don’t think that’s a good example. South Carolinians had a fit and broke with their history of choosing the eventual nominee because Gingrich at that moment was coming across as the guy who most wanted to rip out Barack Obama’s throat with his teeth. It was a weird moment. He appealed to something dark and visceral and atavistic in the SC electorate, something that for me hearkened back to Tillmanism. There was that, and the fact that a lot of establishment Republicans didn’t want Nikki Haley’s candidate to win.

I don’t think the two instances mark a trend away from family values. But yeah, Charleston is Paris if you like…

Mark Sanford’s utter contempt for the Republican Party

Mark Sanford on the last night of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York.

Mark Sanford on the last night of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York.

I don’t have much time for blogging today — I was sick all weekend (ran a fever over 100, which for me is high, since I’m normally about 97 degrees) and couldn’t get to some things I wanted to get ahead on, so now I’m way behind.

But since the special election in the 1st Congressional District is tomorrow, and since Mark Sanford is again what he was at the beginning — the front-runner — I thought I’d share an observation.

Over the weekend, in a story about the state Republican Convention Saturday, Andy Shain wrote:

The mixed feelings of party faithful over former Gov. Mark Sanford’s return to politics also were on display.

Sanford did not attend the convention, spending the day campaigning in the Lowcountry ahead of his Tuesday contest against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the 1st District congressional special election. However, Sanford’s campaign had a phone bank operating in the coliseum lobby that was sparsely attended, even after a plea for volunteers…

Sanford wasn’t there. No big deal. After all, he’s busy, right? His political comeback is in the balance, and he’s on an upswing, so he just couldn’t take time out for the convention, as much as he wanted to be there, right?

Wrong. Even in the best of circumstances, Mark Sanford would as soon have a root canal as attend a state GOP convention — especially since he already has the party’s nomination, meaning that there’s nothing more the party can do for Mark Sanford.

Mark Sanford’s contempt for the Republican Party is a palpable thing. Back in the days when I was supporting his candidacy for governor, and for perhaps a year or two after, I used to find it an endearing, although somewhat odd, trait. Because, as you know, I hold the parties in contempt myself.

A couple of incidents from that period:

  1. Right after the bitterly-fought primary and runoff against Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler in 2002 — in which what essentially amounted to the party establishment had done everything it could think of to stop Sanford — the party bigwigs staged a big reconciliation event out in front of state party headquarters. Not only were all of Bob Peelers’ key backers there, but even people who usually took little interest in gubernatorial politics, by which I mean Glenn McConnell (who as senator had little time to spare on such lesser offices as governor). It was quite the lovefest. Sanford showed up for it, but when I tried to grab him afterwards to see how he felt about this show of support after the bitter primary, he was gone. I found Jenny, and she urged me to call him on his cell, as he was on the way back to Charleston. So I did, when I got back to the office, and when I asked what he thought of all those people who had so recently opposed him bowing down and offering their wholehearted fealty, he said something like (I don’t have the exact words in front of me now), “Yes, well… I suppose people do those things.” Which sort of communicates the degree to which he didn’t care about those people, but not quite — you had to hear his tone to get the full effect. Wow, I thought. Even though I have no fondness for parties or respect for party loyalty, I was impressed by his insouciance. Those people had done all that for him, had gathered from across the state to show how much they cared, and he really could not give a flip. I tried to think of it in positive terms, but it was weird.
  2. The next incident that stands out most in my mind occurred at the climax of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. This is a story I’ve told before. George W. Bush was giving his acceptance speech, and partisan passion in the room was at that fever pitch that it only achieves about once every four years. For people who are into the party, this is the supreme moment, so every square inch of the floor and risers of Madison Square Garden was packed. I was standing in the aisle next to the South Carolina delegation, and had other standing people pressing against me on all sides. Even those who had seats were standing, some of them on their chairs. When he bent over to say something to me, I realized that the person pressing against my left shoulder was Mark Sanford. I forget most of what he said, but I made note of what he said, in that usual bored, lollygaggin’ voice, at the moment when the excitement all around us was at its peak: “I don’t know if you’ve read that book, Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds….” I laughed, and said no, I hadn’t. But the overwhelming impression I had at the moment was that there was one person, among all those thousands, who felt even less connected to the pulsating sense of unity in that enormous room than I did, and that was Mark Sanford.

Oh, a word about why Sanford was standing there in the aisle to begin with. He wasn’t an actual delegate. When I said something about his not having a seat, he indicated — I forget the exact words — that no one had offered him one. After the president’s speech, as things were breaking up, I joshingly asked Speaker David Wilkins why nobody had seen fit to offer their governor a seat, and he suddenly looked very serious, and not a little put-upon. He said he had personally offered the governor his seat, but had been refused.

This was Mark Sanford’s relationship with his party in a nutshell. From the moment he became his party’s nominee, through his entire time in office, he gave loyal, dyed-in-the-wool Republicans, people ready to bend over backwards for their governor, the back of his hand.

Given my own disdain for parties, it took me awhile to connect his lack of caring about other Republicans with what I came to know as his utter lack of concern for anyone other than himself. I didn’t realize what a narcissist Sanford was until June 2009; that came as a shock. Why was it such a shock? Because Mark Sanford was always so different from any other politician I had ever encountered that it was hard to know what to think of his actions.

Once I did, his contempt for his party seemed itself contemptible, and I actually had some sympathy for the party loyalists whom he had repeatedly dissed.

Usually, people who go into politics are to some extent people people. With Sanford, that’s just not the case. He basically has no use for people other than himself, and that included Republicans.

What is bitterly ironic about this is that he is likely to win tomorrow for one reason: That district was drawn to elect a Republican, any Republican, and there are thousands of voters who will pull the lever because Sanford has “Republican” after his name. Because they think he is one of them. When in actuality, he would probably be amused by their assumption, by their unthinking loyalty, if he bothered to care about them at all…

Dueling videos, opening shots in 2014 campaign

James Smith’s comments about Nikki Haley and “corruption” should also be taken within the context of the above ad from the Democratic Governor’s Association.

Meanwhile, with the video below, Haley supporters show that they want to run against Barack Obama again. But at least this ad mentions Sheheen, which is something.

How do the ads strike me? As I indicated earlier, I’m a little leery of the word “corruption.” Yeah, Nikki Haley has a serious transparency problem, she’s not very good at paying her taxes on time, and that $40k she got from Wilbur Smith when she was in the House raises a questions that have not yet been answered. But “corruption” is a word I tend to use for something more overt, more red-handed. Early in my career, back in Tennessee, I saw out-and-out corruption — Gov. Ray Blanton selling pardons. He went to prison for it. Maybe that made me overly fussy. The things the DGA are citing here are real problems, and they provide us with plenty of reason not to vote for Nikki Haley; I’m just quibbling over the word.

The Sheheen/Obamacare ad is just disgraceful. But then, so is the governor’s position of refusing to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, so I see it entirely in that context. For me, her position is indefensible, so the ad is as well. Then there’s that additional ugliness of playing to the fact that “Obama” is the boogeyman to so many white voters in South Carolina. “Obamacare” is used as an incantation, with the operative ingredient being “Obama,” not the “care.” The issue is secondary to the fact that that awful Obama person is associated with it.

Larry Flynt endorses ‘America’s great sex pioneer,’ Mark Sanford

Gina Smith really buried the lede in that story.

I read this morning her account of Mark Sanford’s visage being used by a website that promotes extramarital affairs (she also mentioned his endorsement by Rand Paul, which is about as startling as the fact that the Club for Growth still loves him).

That was interesting, but I didn’t get to the jump page. So I missed this news:

Today, the endorsements have been rolling in. The National Republican Congressional Committee has pulled its support for Sanford but, this morning, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., offered his backing, and the conservative group FreedomWorks followed suit this afternoon.

So did Larry Flynt.

The noted porn king, candidate and political agitator released a sarcastic YouTube endorsement of Sanford as “America’s great sex pioneer,” announced a donation of a legal-maximum $2,600 to Sanford’s campaign, and invited Sanford to “meet with me, man to man, for a photo opportunity and to shake my hand in gratitude for my endorsement.”…

Either falsely or earnestly, Flynt praised Sanford for exposing the “sexual hypocrisy of traditional values in America today” – and praised pro-Sanford voters for their willingness to allegedly reject those values in favor of Sanford’s candidacy…

First, I didn’t know Larry Flynt had a sense of irony, much less one that extended to self-deprecation. He sort of has to know he’s a sleazeball, and mock himself for it, in order to mock Sanford.

To be called a “pioneer” by the guy who made his rep publishing pictures too dirty for Penthouse (which made its rep publishing pictures too dirty for Playboy) is indeed a rare honor.

Sanford loyalists — and I know they are out there, such as the guy in the audience who kept going “Whoo!” to every other thing his candidate said in the debate Monday night — will say it is unfair for such distractions as this to prevent people from focusing on their man’s good qualities.

And in one sense it is a distraction. All this focus on Sanford’s continuing relationship with his soulmate from Argentina distracts us from the stark truth that well before he slipped away from his post in June 2009, Mark Sanford had demonstrated amply that he should never again hold public office, by all he had done and all he had failed to do, as congressman and especially as governor.

But in another sense, it’s perfectly relevant. It’s just another foretaste of the mockery to which South Carolina will subject itself if its 1st District voters elect this man again.

sanford_billboard_ashleymadisoncom_605

Sanford’s continuing with the Nancy Pelosi shtick

Sanford cash

You would think that, after standing on a public street pretending to “debate” a life-sized photograph of Nancy Pelosi, Mark Sanford would realize that he had embarrassed himself in three ways:

  1. By making Rep. Pelosi his target, he’s doing exactly the same thing that he’s accusing Elizabeth Colbert Busch of doing — failing to confront his actual opponent. This “run against the national boogeyman (or woman)” shtick is the last resort of the desperate. It cries out that he has nothing relevant to say to the 1st District. It’s like the political equivalent of how the Tsarnaevs learned to be terrorists — they just got it from the Internet. It’s garden-variety, off-the-shelf, inside-the-Beltway partisan nonsense.
  2. By choosing MUSC as his background, he unnecessarily calls attention to the fact that he has always been hostile to the very idea of public research universities in South Carolina. If Mark Sanford had his way, institutions such as MUSC would not exist. It’s just not a good idea, for him, to remind voters of that.
  3. By standing specifically in front of a building named for Dr. James Colbert — the father of his opponent — he not only demonstrates a shocking cluelessness of landmarks in the main city in his district, but underlines the contributions that his opponent’s family have made to the community in which they are so strongly rooted.

After so thoroughly striking out with this shtick yesterday, you’d think Sanford would abandon it. But above you see a picture of him Tweeted by Stacy Jacobson with the ABC affiliate in Charleston. Her explanation of the picture:

Sanford holds up $1,000. Says Pelosi spent $600k to campaign against him

Sheesh. Never mind that, as an image, it evokes the photo that so embarrassed Mitt Romney.

That’s our former governor. When he finds a way to make himself look silly, he shticks with it…

Kathleen Parker writes as though Sanford were toast

The State today ran this column by Kathleen Parker, which doesn’t come right out and say “Mark Sanford’s gonna lose,” but seems to assume that to be the case throughout. Here’s how the piece ends:

Sanford didn’t even have the decency to resign from office but rather finished his term and vanished for a couple of years only to re-emerge in pursuit of a fresh legacy. He recently won the Republican primary for an open congressional seat and faces Elizabeth Colbert Busch (sister of TV’s Stephen Colbert) in a special election May 7.

To many South Carolinians, especially women, Sanford’s candidacy is an embarrassment of Weiner­esque proportions. But if history is any guide, his candidacy is on life support. Not only did his former wife, Jenny Sanford, not stand by her man, she also wrote a book, went on TV and recently took him to court for trespassing. This in the wake of his fiancee showing up at his primary victory party and appearing onstage with him and two of his sons, one of whom had not previously met his future stepmother.

Sanford’s lack of empathy for his family, not to mention his impeachable judgment, should disqualify him from further public service, an opinion apparently shared by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which recently withdrew support for his candidacy.

Where the wife goes, so go the people…

An interesting detail to note is that this piece is several days old. It’s dated for April 19, which was three days before the PPP poll showed Elizabeth Colbert Busch leading by 9 points. So Kathleen was just sort of going on gut on this — assuming that her theory, that if the wife doesn’t forgive the voters won’t, would apply.

I think it’s premature to count Mark Sanford out. That district is so Republican, and he won the crowded GOP primary. The same people who voted for him all those times before seem poised to do it again. Relying on those voters not to show up on election day seems like a thin premise.

I now think he may lose. I’d very much like to see him lose, because it would go a long way toward bolstering my faith in democracy in South Carolina, which frankly has been repeatedly bruised over the last few years. It would show that voters in that district have some sense.

But I’m not counting on it, not on the basis of information currently available to me.

And I don’t think you can predict it based on any generalizations about sex scandals elsewhere in the country. National media (and I know Kathleen isn’t like other national media, since she lives in SC, but the audience she’s writing for is national) keep making the mistake of lumping Sanford in with Weiner and others, as though there were a connection. When there isn’t.

This is related to another fallacy that national media treat as gospel — that you can make generalizations about individual congressional elections based on party. As though a Democratic or Republican victory at one end of the country indicates a trend that will bear out at the other end of the country. Which utterly ignores the fact that every candidate is different, and is running under different conditions, in a different venue with different voters.

And just as with Tolstoy’s observation that “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” every sex scandal is different. And one involving Mark Sanford is necessarily more different than others, because Mark Sanford is utterly unlike any politician I’ve ever encountered in my long career. The odd ways that he relates, or doesn’t relate, to other human beings (including, and perhaps especially, member of his own party) is just unique. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Therefore the psychology of what motivates people to vote for him is also unique. His political appeal is a strange animal, hard to understand and harder to predict.

So I would not dismiss him yet, as much as I may want to. But to do so, I’d have to be more certain that I am that voters who show up on May 7 in that district will act sensibly, rather than embarrass our state. And there are just too many quirky variables to predict with confidence.

Sheheen decries decriminalization of ethics violations

Got this release a few minutes ago from Vincent Sheheen:

Sheheen on Ethics Reform: GOP efforts & Governor’s back-seat approach the “good-old-boys-and-girls network at its worst”

Columbia – Today, state Representatives Beth Bernstein and James Smith stood up to call for real ethics reform and urged Governor Haley for leadership instead of hiding behind yet another bureaucratic commission while her followers do the dirty work of decriminalizing some of the most common ethics violations – many of which she was accused of herself. State Senator Vincent Sheheen released this statement:

“I thank Representatives Bernstein and Smith for joining me in the revolt against the status quo and the efforts to move South Carolina forward by returning common sense and ethics to our leadership. The Republican effort at ‘ethics reform’ is the good-old-boys–and-girls network in politics at its worst. We need real leadership to clean up the government, not just a study or report while members of the Governor’s own party decrease the punishment on ethics violations that she has been charged with.

“For too long, South Carolina has struggled to meet its potential under the guidance of leaders who get detoured by putting their self-interest before the interests of the people.  We need to change the way we do business and leave the politics of ideology and personal ambition behind to get the state back on track.”

###

I just wish he wouldn’t use that overworked “good ol’ boys” construction. That got tired back when Carroll Campbell was using it. I don’t think anybody really knows what it means, aside from having a rough impression that it’s bad.

Here’s a column I wrote musing about the phrase years ago…

And here’s a column Cindi Scoppe wrote on this “ethics” legislation. An excerpt:

After failing for more than half the session even to introduce their proposal on legislators’ top to-do item, House leaders rolled out a place-holder bill on April 11 that contained nothing but the bill title. They scheduled a subcommittee meeting for the next legislative day, last Tuesday, where House Republican Leader Bruce Bannister, who chairs the Constitutional Law Subcommittee, handed members of his panel a summary and a 100-page amendment that would become the bill.

Panel members discussed the items on the summary — decriminalization was not on the list — made some changes and approved the bill before they had a chance to read it. (It took me nearly three hours to do what I consider a cursory reading.) The process repeated the next day in the full Judiciary Committee, whose members also made changes without having time to read the bill. The text of the bill wasn’t posted online until Thursday evening, seven hours after the committee formally reported it to the House.

Although it’s common for the amended version of a bill not to be available until the next step in the process, I can’t recall a bill ever making it to full committee, much less the full House, before some version was available.

The process was so confusing that Rep. James Smith, a Democrat who serves on the subcommittee, told me Thursday morning that the bill increased penalties for the worst ethics violations. The next day, he called to say he was outraged to discover he was wrong — and to promise to lead a fight to restore them. GOP Rep. Rick Quinn, who also serves on the subcommittee, emailed me an amendment he planned to offer that would do what both men had thought the bill did — increase the current criminal penalties…

Yeah, I had spoken with James, last Tuesday night I think it was, when he was fresh from the meeting alluded to above, and he thought it was a good bill. It’s a good thing that he recognized his mistake…

Laurin Manning on Mark ‘Poor Me’ Sanford

The Washington Post‘s “Post Partisan” blog brought my attention to something I had missed — that our own Laurin Manning was back in the SC blogosphere. Jonathan Capehart of the Post quoted what Laurin had to say about Mark Sanford’s ridiculously narcissistic full-page advert in the Charleston paper over the weekend. As Laurin wrote:

On Sunday, just days after the horrific Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent events that left three people dead, hundreds wounded, and a nation in shock — and just days after the explosion of a Texas fertilizer plant that killed thirteen people and injured hundreds more — Mark Sanford bought a full-page newspaper ad in the print version of Charleston’sPost & Courier to tell us just what a bad week *he* had.soapbox

In his 1,265-word, quintessentially Sanfordian screed, the former governor and Republican nominee for South Carolina’s First Congressional District begins, “It’s been a rough week….”

Yep, that sounds like Mark Sanford, all right. The poor guy. It’s a wonder he wasn’t invited to speak at one of the funerals of the Boston bombing victims. He could have really cheered up the mourners by saying, “You think this is bad? Let me tell you about my week…”

Anyway, it’s great to see that Laurin — one of my very first blogging friends — is back on the job after a nearly two-year hiatus. Here’s how she announced her return last month:

It’s been a while, y’all. Almost two years! I stopped writing when I moved to Washington, DC to work at a software company called Salsa Labs and then at a Democratic organization called American Bridge through the 2012 election. Back in South Carolina figuring out what’s next — hopefully something around these parts. Don’t know how much writing I’ll have time to do on here, so I’m not making any promises, but we’ll see…

Well, I hope we will see. Here’s hoping she sticks around longer than she did after her last return. Welcome back, Laurin!

What Lindsey Graham said about bombing suspect

There’s been a lot of overwrought reaction to Lindsey Graham’s suggestion that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be tried by military tribunal rather than under our criminal system.

For instance, there was this writer over at Forbes who moaned, “Why is it that those who spend an inordinate amount of time professing their dedication and fealty to the United States Constitution seem to always be among the first to toss our founding document out the window the moment it becomes inconvenient to their desires?”

Which is a grossly unfair mischaracterization of Lindsey Graham and what he said.

What did he say? The main ideas can be found in a series of Tweets starting Friday night, and continuing through this morning:

If captured, I hope Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes.

If the #Boston suspect has ties to overseas terror organizations he could be treasure trove of information.

The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to “remain silent.”

The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to “remain silent.”

The Obama Administration needs to be contemplating these issues and should not rush into a bad decision.

I appreciate the hard work and bravery of our law enforcement and intelligence communities. #Boston

Now that the suspect is in custody, the last thing I want is for him to remain silent. #Boston

It is vital he be questioned for intelligence gathering purposes about possible future plots. #Boston

We should be focused on preventing possible attacks over the coming hours and days. #Boston

The least of my worries is a criminal trial which will likely be held years from now. #Boston

The Law of War allows us to hold individual in this scenario as potential enemy combatant w/o Miranda warnings or appointment of counsel.

The goal is to gather intelligence and protect our nation which is under threat from radical Islam. #Boston

I hope the Obama Administration will seriously consider this option. #Boston

Just put out this statement with @SenJohnMcCain about #Boston suspect and #Miranda warning. http://www.facebook.com/USSenatorLindseyGraham …

It is clear events we have seen over the past few days in Boston were an attempt to kill American citizens & terrorize a major American city

The accused perpetrators of these acts were not common criminals attempting to profit from a criminal enterprise….

Under the Law of War we can hold #Boston suspect as a potential enemy combatant not entitled to Miranda warnings or appointment of counsel.

Just released this statement with @KellyAyotte @SenJohnMcCain and @RepPeteKing about Boston / enemy combatant.. https://www.facebook.com/USSenatorLindseyGraham

American citizens who take up arms against our nation or collaborate with our enemies HAVE been held as enemy combatants.

The questioning of an enemy combatant for national security purposes has no limit on time or scope.

In a case like #Boston, it could take weeks to prepare the questions needed to be asked & months before intelligence gathering is completed.

An enemy combatant is entitled to a habeas hearing before a federal judge with appointment of a counsel. Usually, w/in 30 days of capture.

As to any future trial, if this suspect is an American citizen, he is NOT subject to military commission trial. #Boston

Under the Law of War, suspect must be humanely treated, consistent w/ the Detainee Treatment Act, domestic law, and the Geneva Conventions.

A decision to NOT read Miranda rights to the suspect was sound and in our national security interests.

I could care less about the trial – a first year law student could do this trial – I want to gather intelligence. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/lindsey-graham-on-bombing-suspect-take-up-arms-against-america-and-you-can-be-killed-or-captured/ …

Graham spoke with @foxandfriends earlier this morning about enemy combatant status for Boston suspect.
http://www.iqmediacorp.com/ClipPlayer/default.aspx?ClipID=2cc05f9e-32ee-4024-b64c-c9941c890f05&PN=bt9sZFac%2bKA%3d …

The reason you see some repetition in those Tweets is that Graham was responding to comments by others, and reiterating points.

As it happened, so far Graham’s wishes have been followed — the prisoner has not been Mirandized, and apparently has been interrogated to the extent that his wounds (he was shot in the throat) will allow. It is not necessary to consider him an “enemy combatant” to withhold the Miranda warnings, under the public safety exemption — in other words, to gather the intelligence that Sen. Graham values.

As to his being considered an “enemy combatant” — well that’s a war of words that Republicans have been carrying on with Democrats for 12 years now. Republicans prefer the rules of war; Democrats prefer to treat terrorism as a cops-and-robbers thing.

This case seems to be to dwell in sort of a twilight area — and arguments to treat it as war and as crime both seem to have some legitimacy.

Tsarnaev — the one who still lives — is a citizen. And not a citizen off in Yemen somewhere working with al Qaeda, whom President Obama might kill with a drone (just to help us remember that Democrats, too, have gone far beyond the bounds of due process in pursuing what can only be called a war — else there’s no justification for such actions). He’s a citizen who went bad like the Columbine killers.

His brother’s recent fascination with radical Islamism does suggest something that fits within the “War on Terror,” but I think we need to see more evidence that these attacks were somehow coordinated with a hostile foreign organization before we consider this something other than a mass murder. Perhaps such evidence will emerge.

When he is criminally prosecuted on state and federal charges, I wonder if there will be a charge — along with multiple counts of murder and many more of attempted murder — having to do with bringing Boston to a halt? I wonder what that cost, in terms of lost economic activity. This is on my mind after reading about the guy who we are told ran off naked on acid, and all the resources devoted to trying to find him. How much more did the Tsarnaev brothers cost the city, state and federal governments, plus untold thousands of businesses?

But I digress. By the way, while I was traveling over the weekend — driving to Memphis and back for a wedding — Bryan Caskey already did a post on this subject, which you might want to check out.

DCCC’s Appalachian Trail advert

The national Republican Party has washed its hands of Mark Sanford — but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is firmly in the corner of his opponent, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch,

As evidenced by the ad above.

Meanwhile, some Republicans seem to be worrying about their association with Sanford even if he wins. The concern seems to be that he would further damage their reputation with women, either way.

In that vein I share the below interview with Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board.

NRCC won’t support Sanford candidacy

If you were wondering whether the allegation that Mark Sanford trespassed at his wife’s house would have an effect on the special election in the 1st Congressional District, the answer is “yes:”

National Republicans are pulling the plug on Mark Sanford’s suddenly besieged congressional campaign, POLITICO has learned — a potentially fatal blow to the former South Carolina governor’s dramatic comeback bid.

Blindsided by news that Sanford’s ex-wife has accused him of trespassing and concluding he has no plausible path to victory, the National Republican Congressional Committee has decided not to spend more money on Sanford’s behalf ahead of the May 7 special election.

National Republicans are pulling the plug on Mark Sanford’s suddenly besieged congressional campaign, POLITICO has learned — a potentially fatal blow to the former South Carolina governor’s dramatic comeback bid.

Blindsided by news that Sanford’s ex-wife has accused him of trespassing and concluding he has no plausible path to victory, the National Republican Congressional Committee has decided not to spend more money on Sanford’s behalf ahead of the May 7 special election.

Ow. That’s gotta hurt.

I’m starting to think that in spite of that being a GOP seat since 1980, and despite the district being even more Republican after the last reapportionment, Elizabeth Colbert Busch now has a very real chance of winning.

Haley poll results: Up or down? No, statistically the same…

First, I saw this release from the state Democratic Party:

Columbia – Today, Winthrop University released its latest public polling data showing that once again, the majority of South Carolinians do not approve of the job Governor Nikki Haley is doing. The Governor made meager gains from within her Republican base but continues to turn off moderates in South Carolina with her politics before people approach that is standing in the way of creating 44,000 jobs by expanding health care, and is costing South Carolina’s taxpayers millions of dollars as a result of the corruption and dysfunction in the state government. The poll also contained bad news for the governor who got elected on a Tea Party wave and consistently chooses to put Tea-Party politics ahead of sound policy – the approval rating for the Tea Party continues to wan with only a quarter of respondents approving of the Governor’s Tea Party movement.

Then, I went back and looked at the news story, which said the opposite:

By ANDREW SHAIN — ashain@thestate.com

COLUMBIA — A pair of major 2014 candidates in South Carolina watched opinions about them go in different directions in a new poll released Wednesday.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s job approval is rising among voters — especially those in her Republican party, while U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham saw his support within the GOP falter over the past two months, according to a new Winthrop University poll…

So was she down or up? Well, while both reports were technically true, the reality is that statistically speaking, the level of support for Haley is the same as it’s been. The reported shift is within the margin of error:

Haley’s approval rating among South Carolinians rose to 43.5 percent, up a percentage point from two months ago.

The first-term Republican scores 45 percent among registered voters — also up a percentage point and the fourth straight gain in the past year of Winthrop polls.

More than one in three does not like the governor’s performance in office.

But Haley’s popularity among Republicans rose two percentage points to 69 percent since February — a high in two years of Winthrop polls…

The poll’s margin of error among registered voters was 3.5 percent.

Also… while Haley was “up” and Graham was “down,” Graham is still doing better than the governor is among all voters — although again, the difference between them is less than the margin of error:

His approval among registered voters dropped four percentage points to 44 percent in the past two months and slid among all South Carolinians two percentage points to 45 percent…

The most significant change for Graham was among Republicans, dropping “57.5 percent from 71.6 percent in February.”

Oh, by the way, though — if you think Graham’s numbers are bad, Tim Scott has a 38-percent approval rating among all voters, and 54 percent among Republicans.

So, let’s try to keep everything in perspective.

More to the point, Yours Truly would be disenfranchised

My attention was just now drawn to this website devoted to saving the SC GOP presidential preference primary:

Are you a South Carolina Republican? If so, there’s an effort underway to take away your right to vote.

A small group of fringe activists, backed by special interest groups, are working to end our Republican primaries and replace them with nominations by convention. Thousands of us would be disenfranchised, allowing a select few power brokers to pick our Republican candidates.

We cannot let this happen. The only way to stop them is for you to take part in the South Carolina Republican Party re-organization process.

We are counting on YOU to help us Save Our Primary. There are only four simple steps:

  1. SIGN THE PLEDGE to show your support for our South Carolina Republican Primaries.
  2. WATCH THE VIDEO to see how the Republican Party Reorganization process works [view video].
  3. KNOW THE INFO that will allow you to take part in the process, including the dates and locations for your Precinct Meeting and County Convention.
  4. SPREAD THE WORD by sharing this page with other Republican voters in South Carolina.

Get started below…

Maybe the folks behind this site are worried about Republicans being disenfranchised, but that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that those of us who would rather watch Reality TV, or suffer some other terrible torture, than be identified with either party, would be disenfranchised.

Republicans would at least be free to seek slots as delegates to the convention. The rest of us wouldn’t have that option. And we would lose our chance to have a say in a decision that is our one chance to affect the outcome of presidential elections, since it is always a foregone conclusion which candidate will get out state’s electoral voted in the general.

All of that said, I’m only going to start worrying about this when I hear more from the supposed perpetrators of this outrage. I really have no idea of the extent to which this is an actual threat.

Grooms concedes in 1st District GOP primary

Rather than clinging to the hope of a recount, Larry Grooms is conceding in the 1st Congressional District GOP primary:

LARRY GROOMS ISSUES CAMPAIGN STATEMENT

Charleston, SC – Larry Grooms issued the following statement about the 1st Congressional Primary Election results and the pending recount:

“By a voting margin of less than 1%, my plans to represent South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District have ended.

1 Thessalonians 5 teaches us that we should give thanks in all things. While there is great disappointment for coming so very close in such an incredibly difficult election, there is no doubt cause to give thanks and rejoice.

For instance, in a very crowded field, being massively outspent and with a fraction of the news coverage as others – we can rejoice knowing our campaign brought much-needed attention to the serious issues facing South Carolina and the nation. While many continue to ignore spending problems in Washington, pay lip service to the debt crises and show disdain for morality – our campaign was able to remind the people about the principles and freedoms that made this country great. In fact, what we accomplished despite the odds shows the power of united conservative front. I approached the campaign just as I approach my job as your State Senator – ever striving to unite conservatives and lead others to the conservative cause. That’s a major reason for my success in Columbia, and that’s the very reason way we came so close in this election. When we, as conservatives, fight together on the local, state or national level we succeed.

I am truly thankful to serve in this wonderful Senate district and it’s a job I take very seriously. I pledge to continue fighting for conservatism at the state level by working to protect the taxpayers’ money and their values with every single vote.

I will forever be indebted to my family, friends, supporters and volunteers who sacrificed more for me than I will ever be able to repay. The kindness and generosity of those who believe in my fight for freedom and liberty is overwhelming and I am humbly grateful.

In a special note to my bride of 30 years Carol, I could not and would not have done this without her by my side. Next to the Lord, she is my rock and the constant cause for joy in my life.

To the possibility of a recount, as I understand it, the state Election Commission will begin an automatic recount as outlined by state law – and I will be the ‘official’ third place finisher in the race. I wish Gov. Mark Sanford and Curtis Bostic all the best. Like all the candidates and office holders across America, they too will constantly be in my prayers.”

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That sort of surprised me. He ran so hard, I figured he’d want to hold out a little longer.

Michele Bachmann certainly does whine a lot

Today, Michele Bachmann writes, yet again, to tell me that the Democrats are picking on her:

Fellow Conservative,

The national Democrats would love nothing more than to see me lose — and they have already decided to pull out all the stops to make that happen.

In fact just yesterday, Roll Call — a Capitol Hill political publication — is hinting that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is telling reporters that I’m on the top of their list for defeat. (The DCCC is Nancy Pelosi’s campaign slush fund.)

You see, the DCCC has already identified my district and campaign as one they are targeting for defeat in 2014. And you can bet they will have the resources to go all out. In 2012 alone, the DCCC raised and spent more than $184 million dollars to defeat Republicans.

And, in addition to working overtime to defeat our campaign, they have willing accomplices in the liberal media to continue their dirty work by misrepresenting and misleading voters all over the national airwaves.

Fellow Conservative, I need your help to fight back.

I cannot do this without you. Our campaign is entirely funded by the donations of my supporters and close friends like yourself.

Won’t you please make an instant online contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more right now so I can fight back against the liberals in the national media and at the DCCC?

You see, the DCCC has it all wrong. They think that if they can defeat me, they will have defeated our values. But, our campaign isn’t about me- it’s about US. It’s about restoring our government and economy, protecting our shared constitutional conservative values, eliminating the wasteful spending in Washington, and ensuring our conservative voice is heard.

We cannot let the DCCC undo all of the great work we have done in the past. The actions we take today will determine our future.

If the national Democrats and the liberal media are going to start campaigning against me this early — then you and I must start this early as well.

And that’s exactly why I’m writing you today.

You have been a loyal supporter and friend, but your continued support has never been more important. The ultra-liberals at the DCCC are now openly targeting my race, and we need to fight back.

The fastest way to join our campaign is by making an online donation.

Thank you for standing with me at the outset of what promises to be an exciting year.

Sincerely,

Michele Bachmann

PS. I need your urgent support. The fact that the DCCC is working this early to defeat our campaign, proves that they will pull out all the stops this election cycle. We must work hard today to prove we are going to fight back with everything we have. Please follow this link to show your support and make your most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more today. Thanks.

It’s gotten to where, when I get an email from Michele, I want to respond the way Grace the secretary in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” did to Jeannie: “Who’s bothering you now?”

GOP report unusually candid about the party’s problems

When I saw this Tweet this morning, and read the text before seeing whom it was from:

report

 

… I immediately thought it was about a new party — because of course neither the Democrats nor the Republicans fit that description.

But it was from the SC GOP, and it was about the report that came out today, in which the national party examines its recent failures and prescribes what it hopes will be a cure.

I had already read a little bit about it earlier in the day, as Chris Moody over at Yahoo had condensed it to a list of 10 things the report says the party needs to do going forward.

The report itself is strikingly candid. I’m not accustomed to seeing political parties be so publicly open about their problems:

The GOP today is a tale of two parties. One of them, the gubernatorial wing, is growing andsuccessful. The other, the federal wing, is increasingly marginalizing itself, and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly diffcult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future. Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. States in which our presidential candidates used to win, such as New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida, are increasingly voting Democratic. We are losing in too many places. It has reached the point where in the past six presidential elections, four have gone to the Democratic nominee, at an average yield of 327 electoral votes to 211 for the Republican. During the preceding two decades, from 1968 to 1988, Republicans won five out of six elections, averaging 417 electoral votes to Democrats’ 113.

Public perception of the Party is at record lows. Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us…

That may be the first time in my long career that I’ve seen such an admission from either party. Especially Republicans, who always sound like they think theirs is the best of all possible parties.

Here’s the full report if you want to read it.

‘It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House…’

Somehow I missed this when it was in the Charleston Business Review way back in January — until Burl, all the way from Hawaii, brought it to our attention today:

Rep. Kris Crawford, a Republican from Florence and also an emergency room doctor, supports the expansion but expects the Republican caucus to vote as a block against the Medicaid expansion.

“The politics are going to overwhelm the policy. It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party,” Crawford said.

Well, he certainly pegged that. The House did indeed do the totally irrational thing and reject Medicaid. Which makes this prophetic statement from a GOP lawmaker — and you did notice the part about him being a Republican, right? — particularly noteworthy.

Why is he so out of step with his caucus? Because he’s a doctor, so he knows better.

That’s chapter one of our story. Chapter two is that this week, Rep. Crawford fulfilled his own prophecy by voting along with his party on the issue. But then, so did all but one Democrat:

Crawford voted against accepting the money on Wednesday because it was proposed as part of the state’s budget — which he says is not the right place to do it. Instead, he wants to propose separate legislation later this year, and he worried that if he voted with the Democrats on the budget none of his Republican colleagues would support him…

Meanwhile, Dick Harpootlian has castigated Crawford for the wrong thing, referring to his “the racist and inexcusable comments by Rep. Kris Crawford regarding Medicaid expansion.

I tend to agree with Todd Rutherford, who said, “I am never bothered by someone stating the truth.”

Meanwhile, Crawford has baked down on the more inflammatory part of his comment, but not on the general thrust:

In an interview on Thursday, Crawford said his vote on the state budget was political, but said it had nothing to do with race — noting that if he had to do it over again, he “might pick different words.” But he stood behind the larger point of his comments, criticizing Haley and the House Republican Caucus for voting against the expansion purely because a Democratic president is for it.

Lesson (too late) for Romney: Always thank the servers

47 percent

HuffPost has been talking to the bartender who shot the infamous “47 percent” footage that did so much to undermine Mitt Romney last year.

Here’s what he said about how it happened:

The man, who tended bar for a company that catered to a high-end clientele, had previously worked at a fundraiser at a home where [Bill] Clinton spoke. After Clinton addressed guests, the man recalled, the former president came back to the kitchen and thanked the staff, the waiters, the bartenders, the busboys, and everyone else involved in putting the event together. He shook hands, took photos, signed autographs, and praised the meal—all characteristic of the former president.

When the bartender learned he would be working at Romney’s fundraiser, his first thought was to bring his camera, in case he had a chance to get a photo with the presidential candidate. Romney, of course, did not speak to any of the staff, bussers or waiters. He was late to the event, and rushed out. He told his dinner guests that the event was off the record, but never bothered to repeat the admonition to the people working there.

One of them had brought along a Canon camera. He set it on the bar and hit the record button.

The bartender said he never planned to distribute the video. But after Romney spoke, the man said he felt he had no choice.

“I felt it was a civic duty. I couldn’t sleep after I watched it,” he said. “I felt like I had a duty to expose it.”

As Huffington suggests, Obama owes Clinton on this one…

Looks like Tom Davis regrets not running in 1st District

While we’re speculating whether Tom Davis will change his mind and run against Lindsey Graham after all, it looks like Tom himself is sort of regretting that he didn’t run for the 1st Congressional District. Here’s his reaction, on Facebook, to the campaign’s descent into cultural wedge issues:

Two days ago in SC 1st district GOP primary, it was creationism, now it’s gay marriage. Ridiculous. Obsession with using the coercive power of the federal government in such “social conservative” matters is inconsistent with the principle of limited and constitutional government. I wish one of the candidates had answered the gay-marriage question like this: “I oppose federal government efforts to redefine marriage as something other than a union between one man and one woman, and my personal belief is that marriage should be between a single man and a single woman. But I also oppose federal government efforts to define marriage as only the union between a single man and a single woman. The federal government has only those powers delegated to it in the constitution and defining what constitutes a marriage is not one of them.”

Grooms jumps into Culture Wars with both feet

Larry Grooms has apparently decided that Kulturkampf is the way to differentiate himself from the rest of the Gang of 16 in the GOP primary for the 1st Congressional District:

Charleston, SC – In a political shocker last night at the College of Charleston Forum – not one Republican up on stage stood up and supported traditional marriage being between one man and one woman.

In fact, the Post and Courier this morning, published an article titled, “1st Congressional District Candidates Speak Up on Gay Marriage, Other Issues,” and it exposed the candidates’ decidedly liberal position on marriage.

For example, Teddy Turner, Jr.’s newly found conservatism apparently doesn’t include protecting social issues like marriage. Turner said, “I don’t think social issues should be a federal issue.” Candidate Tim Larkin said, “…This is a South Carolina Republican telling you the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. It’s wrong.” Candidate Elizabeth Moffly said she didn’t think Congress should legislate morality or what goes on behind closed doors. Candidate Peter McCoy said, “When it comes down to the government telling somebody how to get married … I think the government has zero role in it.”

Even self proclaimed conservative, former Governor Mark Sanford didn’t refute the others – and now we know why – because at the Forum, Sanford refused to be clear on the issue too.

To view the article, click the following link:

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130312/PC16/130319795/1031/1st-congressional-district-candidates-speak-up-on-gay-marriage-other-issues

Conversely, Larry Grooms was about 90 miles away at a Tea Party Forum in Bluffton – defending social issues like life and marriage. When asked about the Republican Party hemorrhaging demographics – Larry pointed out that Hispanic voters and African American voters care deeply about social issues – and abandoning life and marriage would hurt Republicans with those groups and not help.

Today, Larry issued the following statement about the lack of support for marriage at the College of Charleston forum last night:

Larry Grooms said, “I firmly believe marriage is between one man and one woman – and I will fight to defend traditional marriage against every attack. Quite frankly, I’m appalled that the other candidates refused to stand up for traditional marriage. But I’m not surprised. My opponents have sure talked a good conservative game, but now everyone can see, the others just won’t be as conservative as they say they will. And last night’s forum proves my point.

But whether it’s social issues, government spending issues or government waste issues – voters can trust me to stand in the gap for conservatism because I’ve got a record of doing just that.

If these other candidates can’t be conservative at a College of Charleston forum, then how can you trust them to be conservatives in the face of other Congressional members or Congressional leadership or this President?”

Larry Grooms has received various awards fighting for social issues including:

  • Legislator of the Year, South Carolina Citizens for Life
  • Senate Legislative Champion Award, Palmetto Family Council

 

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