Don Fowler likens us to Lucifer

Well, it took him a day and a half, but Columbian and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Don Fowler managed to draft a response to our endorsement of Barack Obama (I received it at 10:46 a.m. today):

Don Fowler’s comments on editorial endorsements by The State
Having The State newspaper render judgments about Democrats is like Lucifer rendering judgments about angels. The crack set of philosopher kings at The State have twice endorsed George Bush and twice endorsed Mark Sanford.  No further comment required. 

Don Fowler

No, that’s not an excerpt. That’s the whole message, except for his phone number and e-mail address at the end.

Apparently, we didn’t endorse Don’s preferred candidate. For those of you who don’t know Don, you should. At least you should know that his wife, Carol, is the present state party chair. But in his day, Dr. Fowler has operated on a much grander stage.

Over the years, Don and I have disagreed strongly over one thing: He thinks the political parties are a wonderful, essential part of our political system (hence all the time he’s spent serving one of them). I see the Republican and Democratic parties as anathema, the ruination of the country, destructive forces that foster intellectual dishonesty and prevent the deliberative process from functioning as the nation’s Founders intended. Don is a Democrat, through and through. I am the founder and most ardent proponent of the UnParty.

Given that divide between us, it was pretty much inevitable — looking at it now in retrospect — that we would endorse Barack Obama, the one candidate seeking the Democratic nomination with the goal of leading the nation beyond the nauseating polarization that has characterized the Bush-Clinton years. And it was just as inevitable that Don would disagree most vehemently, and in the hyperpartisan terms that he chose.

Don doesn’t even see the truth, which is that this newspaper has endorsed slightly more Democrats than Republicans in the years I’ve been on this editorial board. We haven’t done that on purpose; party is not a consideration in our deliberations. I wasn’t aware of it until I took the time in 2004 to do a study of the past decade’s endorsements. It just worked out that way. (In fact, in 2006 we endorsed 12 Democrats and 5 Republicans — again, not intentionally. And while that skewed our running average toward Democrats, we sometimes go just as strongly for Republicans, depending on the candidates that year.)

But Don’s apparently not a guy who can understand, or forgive, anyone who has backed a Republican ever. And the partisan filter through which he perceives the world is what divides us.

11 thoughts on “Don Fowler likens us to Lucifer

  1. Mike Cakora

    Sheesh, Brad, pickin’ on a poor guy like Don Fowler is poor sport, his memory’s shot.
    Remember when he was Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) last decade? He was just doing his job directing potential contributors to Clinton Administration officials for meetings and photo ops. Maybe he was a little too enthusiastic as this NYT article reports:

    A former official of the Central Intelligence Agency has provided fresh evidence to support accusations that a top Democratic Party official sought to enlist the agency to aid a major donor to President Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.

    That official was Don Fowler, the donor was Roger Tamraz, a shady entrepreneur who’d done deals with Iraq and Libya and who to that time had been kept away from President Clinton through the Herculean efforts of Clinton’s National Security Council staff.
    Did Don call a CIA spook in an effort to get Tamraz to see Clinton? Don couldn’t remember when testifying at a Senate hearing and later when asked about it, but several years later the CIA spook did and wrote about it.

    But ”Bob from the C.I.A.” never testified publicly about the matter. At the time, he was still under cover as an officer in the Directorate of Operations, the agency’s clandestine espionage arm, and even his last name remained classified. He gave a deposition to Senate investigators, and left the agency not long after the Tamraz affair.
    Now, in his book-length manuscript, he writes that Mr. Fowler wanted him to help Mr. Tamraz overcome resistance by White House staffers who were trying to prevent Mr. Tamraz from meeting with President Clinton. Mr. Tamraz wanted support from the Clinton administration for his plan to build an oil pipeline in the Caspian Sea region.

    William Safire weighed in on this at the time.
    Don left DC and returned to the Palmetto State shortly after the hearing.
    You ought to ask him about this, see if he remembers…

  2. JJ

    Don is a shady cat, and his wife is a hateful, venom-spewing operative.
    Match made in heaven if you ask me.
    I’ll resist the personal comments about their physical appearance, ala Mike Huckabee.

  3. Mike Cakora

    Hokey smokes, there’s a Fred Thompson connection! Fred was Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee investigating the Clinton campaign finance scandal. He didn’t make much headway because of an epidemic of amnesia; Fowler was not the only sufferer. Bob Woodward covered this story and the cast of characters.
    If it’s any consolation, he might have meant Fred Thompson and the GOP in the role of Lucifer instead of Brad Warthen and The State.

  4. Bob McAlister

    Ya’ll lay off my buddy, Don. He and I go back to my days as a reporter (back to the seventies) and he was responsible for helping my future wife become a liberal feminist Dem when he ran the political machine in South Carolina (She changed once she met me and saw the light). Don is a thoroughly honest and decent guy. I agree with him about the importance of political parties and that’s about where our unity ends. But he’s a friend to whom I ascribe only good motives. Lord knows there are plenty of shady, unclean Dems in this state, but Don ain’t one of ’em.

  5. Mike Cakora

    Bob – I don’t want to engage in any conspiracy theories and certainly don’t question your judgment, but one’s personal behavior can be at odds with one’s professional activities, especially under pressure.
    In his zeal to raise funds for his party, Fowler dealt with some shady characters (scroll down to 9/13/1995 where Tamraz is mentioned, but Fowler has lunch with Indonesian billionaire Riady and Huang is recommended as focus for Asian-American fundraising).
    Did that Riady / DNC / Clinton connection take $1.2 trillion in domestic clean coal off the market for a few million in campaign contributions?

  6. Brad Warthen

    Of course, I didn’t deny being a “philosopher king,” either, and do you believe THAT for a moment.
    Somehow I feel I’m being crowded into an LBJ moment. Do y’all know his dictum about how you don’t have to prove an outrageous charge about your opponent, you just have to get him to deny it? I was trying to find a quote to that effect just now, but was unsuccessful. Without using the cruder words, could anyone help me find that?

  7. Brad Warthen

    I didn’t set out to copy-edit Don’s e-mail, but I should point out that we endorsed Mark Sanford in 2002, but we endorsed Democrat Tommy Moore in 2006, and were very clear that it was less because Tommy was much to write home about, but because we preferred almost any alternative to four more years of Sanford. We would of course later take heat for making that choice, but we couldn’t see a better course at the time.

    Of course, if he’s counting primaries, we’ve endorsed Sanford THREE times. But I don’t think he meant primaries. I think he was making a point about Republicans vis-a-vis Democrats. And in that case, he would be wrong.

  8. Lee Muller

    Since Tommy Moore was already working for the payday loan sharks, it was better that he give up his part-time job in government.

  9. rick campbell

    …i think his short but accurate reply says volumes about the state newspaper and very little about don…was he lying when he said who you guys have been in bed with?…not hardly…the truth has a liberal bias…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *