And this is supposed to play to Nikki’s advantage?

I continue to find myself baffled by the way rigid ideologues look at the world, particularly those who are chasing the Tea Party vote.

A little while ago I got this release from Nikki Haley’s campaign manager:

February 26th, 2010Friends,

Hope all is well. Things are going great on the campaign front – Nikki’s message of real conservative reform is catching fire all across the state, and your support is a huge part of that.

The Myrtle Beach Sun News recently sat down with both Nikki and Gresham Barrett – and since there’s been some back-and-forth between the two campaigns recently, I thought you might find their take on the two interesting:

“For people who share a party, the stylistic differences between [Haley and Barrett] could hardly be more striking.

Haley, an accountant, presents herself as a far-right reformer, cast in a mold similar to the Mark Sanford of eight years ago. She has two primary claims to conservative fame (both of which may strike some voters as somewhat abstract, as Sanford-style issues often can): a successful but politically costly fight last year to put state legislators’ votes on the record, and her opposition to South Carolina’s use of $700 million in stimulus money to shore up shortfalls in its 2009 and 2010 budgets. …

While Haley shares Sanford’s ideology, however, she seems to lack his idiosyncrasies. The governor’s sometimes-distracted demeanor starkly contrasts with Haley’s fastidious, alert style, and it’s tough to imagine her toting piggies onto the Statehouse floor. ‘The accountant in me doesn’t have time for finger-pointing and fighting,’ she said.

Barrett hails from the high Upstate, the tiny town of Westminster, which he points out is about as far as you can get in South Carolina from Myrtle Beach. He’s cut from mainstream conservative cloth, building a career on core Republican issues: pro-life, pro-gun, pro-business and pro-military.

In fact, in today’s anti-partisan political climate, Barrett’s biggest liability may be his vote for the 2008 bank bailout. …”

You read that right, Congressman Barrett voted FOR the colossal waste of taxpayer dollars that was the bank bailout – and he would do it again, as you can see here (click to play):

That passage is followed by a video clip you can find at the link.

First, Nikki Haley is not a person who, a year ago or more, I would have associated with the term “rigid ideologue.” And yet this is the way she is painting herself now. More remarkable than that, she is going far out of her way to say, Look at me! I am THE Mark Sanford candidate in this race! Doesn’t seem wise to me.

But then, I tend to think of conservatism in old-fashioned ways. In my day, a conservative wanted to be the one who was seen as “pro-life, pro-gun, pro-business and pro-military.” And yet the Haley campaign seems to think it’s a good thing that rival Gresham Barrett is seen that way, while she is seen (they, in defiance of all reason, seem to hope) as the anti-gummint extremist (that is to say, the Sanford candidate).

I mean, is it supposed to be a positive good to be compared to “the Mark Sanford of eight years ago”? Do they actually think that pre-Argentina, the gov was A-OK? That he wasn’t a dangerous flake all along? How do they figure? Do they really not get it that the problem is his world view? Do they truly not see that the selfishness that caused him to spend Father’s Day in Argentina is merely a logical outgrowth of his quirky, self-centered Ayn Randian political philosophy?

I find it all hard to follow. It baffles me. When did the world get this crazy?

23 thoughts on “And this is supposed to play to Nikki’s advantage?

  1. Brad Warthen

    And what about this passage from the MB story: “While Haley shares Sanford’s ideology, however, she seems to lack his idiosyncrasies…”

    His ideology IS his main idiosyncrasy, and all the others spring naturally from it. His lackadaisical attitude was closely related to his contempt for governing and the political process. It was all of a piece…

    I don’t know who wrote that. I do know that the MB paper has no editorial department anymore, unless they recreated it when I wasn’t looking. They laid off the editorial page editor, who was a one-man shop, the week before The State sacked me…

  2. jfx

    At bottom of article:

    “Robert Morris is a senior editorial writer for The Sun News. Reach him at 843-626-0294 or, or on the Web at”

    If you were wondering who that other dude is in the picture slideshow accompanying the article, with the tiny picture of Haley, the large picture of Barrett, and a large picture of….some other dude…Rob Morris is that other dude.

    And hey look, there’s your old libertarian some-time blog poster, “Workin’ Tommy C”, down in the comments section beneath the article, helping Haley kick dirt on Barrett’s shoes. Tea Party netroots, ATTACK!

  3. Walter

    In the few months I’ve been following your blog I have begun to notice a pattern. That being that you seem to blog-bash Republicans a lot more than you blog-bash Democrats… in fact I can’t remember the last time that happened. You also state that you are neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Wouldn’t someone who constantly bashes the Republican Party and praises the Democratic party be thought of as a Democrat? When is the last time you wrote anything negative about any Democratic candidate or office holder… and I don’t mean Robert Ford, everyone writes about his stupidity and he says a lot of what he does for the publicity. When you do pat a political figure on the back, it is a given that they are a member of the Democratic party. You state you’re a member of the “Unparty”, but for the life of me, it appears that “Unparty” is just an alias for “Democratic Party”.

  4. Brad Warthen

    jfx, good for you; you looked at it more closely than I did. I got to the part that puzzled me and posted from the hip.

    I think Robert Morris is the guy who called me recently and we had a talk about dealing with comments. If he’s got Workin’ Tommy there, I can see why he was concerned.

    Walter, you’re a newcomer. The pattern I’ve tracked over time shows that in some years we’ve been lopsidedly in favor of Democrats, other times in favor of Republicans. My own comments have tended to reflect that. You weren’t around when I was endorsing Mark Sanford, and John McCain, and George W. Bush — twice. And of course, I took hell for it at the time from the likes of bud (in fact, bud still gives me hell about it roughly once a week), just as I’m taking it now from you.

    But I still see those endorsements as correct — even the Sanford one, given the information available at the time. (If I’d known him the way I do now, we’d never have endorsed him, though — nor would most of the Republicans who’ve had to deal with him since.)

    Do you suppose being UnPartisan means that you always castigate or praise both parties equally, 50-50 at all times? If you really don’t care about party, you are free to notice when one party is being particularly foolish at a given moment.

    Anyway, there are folks here on the blog who will assure you that I’m a Republican through and through. But they are just as wrong as you are.

  5. Brad Warthen

    I will say, though, that recently some folks who are Democrats think they’re seeing the same thing you think you are seeing — me being more critical toward Republicans, and generally neutral toward Dems.

    They’re failing to take the long view. They’re forgetting how mad they were at me 16 months ago for endorsing McCain — which I don’t regret at all.

    What puzzles them on the national level is that while I have no time for the likes of Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid, I want to give the president every benefit of the doubt, and I want to see him succeed. Since they are so used to hearing Republicans castigate him, and since they, like most people, think that if you don’t sound like a Republican you must be a Democrat. They are wrong. There are a lot of us who are neither.

    And they forget that, just as I am sick of Republicans not giving Obama a chance, and in many cases making total asses of themselves about it, I was just as disgusted with Democrats for not giving Bush a chance, and making utter asses of themselves with their Bush Derangement Syndrome.

    Meanwhile, here in SC, we have the unusual situation of a Republican governor who has utterly discredited himself, and as a consequence you have an unusually high-quality group of Democrats, having been encouraged by the situation, running for governor. So yeah, I have some good things to say about those people. Meanwhile, even the two Republicans I liked best — Henry and Nikki — seem to be going out of their way to tie themselves to some of the more absurd trends among Republicans. You have a Lindsey Graham-style Republican, who I greatly admired for sticking with McCain through thick and thin, trying to act like a Jim DeMint Republican, even refusing to favor raising the cigarette tax. That has disappointed me enormously. And you have Nikki, whom I have always liked a lot, wrapping herself in the mantle of Sanford, of all things. It’s like Republicans have been perusing my blog to find out what would be most likely to completely alienate me this election year.

    But I fully expect the trends will swing the other way at some point…

  6. Robert Morris

    Hi Brad – yup, it was me that called you a while back, and yup, I wrote this particular piece. What’s funny is that, predictably, the Barrett campaign did an email blast on it also, also declaring victory. What I find actually funny, I guess, is that the actual piece was fairly critical of both at points as well: Readers of The Sun News editorial page know that an interstate connection to Myrtle Beach is one of our absolute top priorities (in fact if you go through the Sanford email FOIA response there’s a mildly amusing point in his daily clippings roundup where his press shop kind of mocks us for a batch of interstate editorials in a row), anyway, Haley totally struck out on that one, while Barrett did pretty well. On the other hand, Barrett’s response to the Confederate flag question was a total flub, while Haley did OK – for someone trying to get Republican primary votes.

    I’m guessing it took a week for the Haley camp to send it out because they were trying to decide which part to cut-and-paste into an email. That just sort of speaks to that odd messenging-by-fiat strategy dominant among assembly-line politicos today – take every encounter and try to explain why it’s adding to your candidate’s “momentum.” I fully expected the email blasts; I really was just curious if they’d have links to the original.

    On one point above, actually, I’d disagree with you and say I wouldn’t ennoble Sanford’s selfishness by giving it a philosophical basis, though they may well align conveniently. He saw something he wanted, decided the rules didn’t apply to him and took. You don’t need to be a disciple of Rand to do that – sometimes disciples of Buddha or champions of the working poor do the same thing. And I have to say there’s something distinctly different about Sanford’s and Haley’s styles – something I haven’t quite nailed down yet, but tried to describe by noting her fastidiousness versus his abstraction. I don’t think we’d be hearing about fishing trips in her state of the state, for example.

    But I’ve got a question for you. Eight years ago, we as an institution (though not me, as you can guess from the picture of “the other dude”) already knew Sanford pretty well as a Congressman, since he was ours. We already knew the abstractions and the idiosyncracies, yet we endorsed him, too. He billed himself as an outsider, a real reformer, someone who hoped to carry his state into a new century and so forth – in short, a true disdain for the good old boy system, perhaps a fatal disdain. Haley’s coming from the same place, and, oddly, it has the same appeal, even though there is undeniably the same potential for what you’re calling “danger” above. I guess what I’m asking is if you really saw him as a “dangerous flake” when you endorsed him, or if, as we did, you saw him as a guy with some potential strengths and weaknesses.

    My predecessor, Denney, nailed that weakness right on in the endorsement, actually, highlighting the possibility – or eventuality – that his ideological bent might derail his reform efforts. So it goes.

    MB doesn’t have an editorial “department” per se, but I do right editorials (and the occasional column) full time, supplemented by the work of another part-time editorial writer. The (internal) difference between me and Denney is that I usually don’t have a hand in the other opinion-page duties, like letters and choosing op-eds.

    I’ve chewed up a lot of your page here. Thanks for the mention.

  7. orphan annie

    Anyone using the word “gummit” or ” gubbermint” has no respect for the system. They are brainwashed fools with ties to the dangerous organization named C Street. Be aware.

  8. Brad Warthen

    Robert, thanks for your patient and civil reply, especially after (as jfx pointed out) I went off half-cocked on this one. Not that I’d change any of the substance of my point, which is that it’s downright weird that the Haley camp sees this as favorable to her at Barrett’s expense.

    No, I did not see Sanford as a dangerous flake when we endorsed him. I saw him as a guy who was allied with us on government restructuring to the point that he was pretty much reciting our words point for point. I was aware that he was … eccentric. But we thought it the eccentricity one sees sometimes in people who are motivated by ideas rather than, say, the admiration of peers. I did not recognize it as the out-and-out antisocial tendency that it was.

    And even after the Argentina trip, I still failed to recognize his narcissism fully until he conducted the “soulmate” interviews. The thing about Sanford is that I’d never run across anyone quite like him, so everything new I learn about him is sort of a surprise.

    As for his personality being rooted in his philosophy (or perhaps vice versa): If you’ll recall, during the infamous press conference he referred to the fact that his sin was doing what HE wanted instead, as God would have it, what others needed. He was absolutely right. And that is as concise and perfect a description of his political philosophy as I’ve encountered. Too bad neither he, nor Nikki, seem to be aware of that connection.

  9. David

    he referred to the fact that his sin was doing what HE wanted instead, as God would have it, what others needed.

    So what you’re saying is we’re all Mark Sanfords? Don’t we all share that flaw?

    Or perhaps if one tries to attribute it to a political philosophy — one of which he does not subscribe to — instead of humanity, he can therefore absolve himself of that affliction which, back in reality, plagues the rest of us.

  10. martin

    Yes, indeed. Robert Morris was remarkably civil given the insult.
    I read the Sun Times every day, but rarely the editorials. I will spend a little more time doing so. I read and enjoy Mr. Bailey’s columns. They do some great investigative work, too – 5 Rivers and the current NMB mess.

    Mark Sanford always grabs my attention. My kinda, sorta social work background leads me to believe philosophy is rooted in personality for Mark and most of the people who think the way he does. Actually, in all people. It’s just that when you have a personality driven by narcissism and anti-social behavior and those people are allowed to reach high political office, it becomes a real societal problem. Look at our state’s progress for the last 7 years. Look at Congress.

    The warning sign that people didn’t and don’t take seriously about Mark and his disciples is the pathological rigidity. If they are telling voters their way is the only way, they will never compromise, that should tell any thinking person that their effectiveness will be limited. Why don’t people realize that from their own lives?

    In retrospect, the press did a really poor job of covering Mark when he was in Congress. We heard about the futon, but not the junkets. The junkets would have told people way back what a hypocrite he was and pulled back the curtain. They need to be digging up the foolishness and pure craziness on Nikki and the others now. And, if she thinks it will benefit her to be the Sanford candidate, she’s got real problems with her thinking.

    And, gee, I hope editorial rooms have learned their lesson about single issue endorsements.

  11. Brad Warthen

    David, it’s the root of sin for all of us. It’s almost the definition of sin.

    But people of a radical, Randian sort of libertarianism actually, openly espouse that attitude in terms of their dealings with society — that everybody acting in their own self-interest is in fact the best way for society to operate. They believe that when they act selfishly and advocate selfishness for all citizens, they are acting morally. (And the reason Ayn Rand comes to mind is that she actually wrote “The Virtue of Selfishness.”)

    That’s why it struck me so powerfully when he described that as a sin in terms of his personal life. It’s also a sin in public; it’s just that he doesn’t believe that.

    Bottom line: I’m not ASSIGNING values to these folks. I’m describing what I’ve learned about their actual attitudes…

  12. Robert Morris

    I didn’t perceive an insult or even that the reply was “half cocked.” For Brad to take issue with a piece of something I wrote, well, let me just say it wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened. And if his writing wasn’t lively none of us would be here.

    Anyway, I agree with the crux of this whole post: Campaigns live in this bizarre place where every mention of their name has to be hailed as either “endorsement” or slammed as “bias.” I think the Haley campaign may have struggled with which category to put this one in for a few days – the mere repetition of Sanford’s name and hers together so much had to at least give them pause.

    Again, Brad, thanks for your thoughts.

  13. jfx


    Re: Haley’s fastidiousness vs. Sanford’s abstraction

    Could it simply be that Haley is not an all-consuming narcissist enraptured by the drama of her every unfolding moment? Perhaps since she is not intoxicated by the sound of her own voice, she simply comes off as more engaged and in the moment. No faraway eyes.

    Ideologically, though, there’s virtually no daylight between her and Mark. Good thing we have Mark as the “dangerous flake” example. I would say keep the laser focus on her, and wait for the mask to slip…but I’m not sure she’s as good at the game as Mark was, cuz her mask done slipped plenty.

    I’m thinking of that part in the SN article where it is related how she yokes herself to Jim DeMint, and froths about how despicable Lindsey Graham is for committing the unpardonable sin of working together with Democrats.

    And she wants to be our leader? Say wha?

  14. Kathryn Fenner

    To pile on, I think Sanford was truly saying that what God wanted him to do was to be King. He believes that that would address the needs of others, because they need him to be King David.

    Narcissism masquerading as piety. Nice.

  15. Kathryn Fenner

    From Kathleen Parker’s recent pice–

    “Idealogy offers human beings the illusion of dignity and morals while making it easier to part with them.” – Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright, essayist, former dissident and politician.

  16. orphan annie

    it’s the C Street brain washing that leads these ” republicans” to their sins
    Read “The Family” by Jeff Sharlet.

  17. martin

    Are ya’ll catching the anti-Gresham ads ALL OVER cable news for the last couple of days?

    annie, did you see where a group of ministers in Illinois or Indiana has filed a complaint with the IRS about the C Street house not being used as a church? DC has already removed the majority of its tax exemption.

  18. Doug Ross


    I’ll use a phrase you have used in the past – “Did you actually READ the Rand piece on selfishness?”

    It doesn’t condone anything Sanford did.

    “Humans live in a social world; in order to maximize the value of their interactions with others, they should cultivate a firm commitment to the virtues of rationality, justice, productiveness, and benevolence. A commitment to these virtues naturally precludes such brutish behavior.”

    “For her, the truly selfish person is a self-respecting, self-supporting human being who neither sacrifices others to himself nor sacrifices himself to others.”

  19. Brad Warthen

    And that, of course, is not a description of a moral individual. The idea that one CAN be a moral individual while taking no responsibility for anyone other than oneself is the central conceit, and great moral flaw, in radical individualism.

    I’m familiar with Rand. I read Anthem in school. Haven’t read her other books (because I find her outlook repulsive), but from everything I’ve heard ABOUT them, Anthem was a fair sample. And Anthem was ridiculous. She concocted a society in which collectivism was taken to absurd extremes in order to make a person who learns to embrace selfishness, and to reject ANY sense of responsibility to society, seem heroic and noble. It works, as a fantasy. But as a description of how the world works or might work, it’s laughable.

  20. Doug Ross

    Simple question: What percentage of your day do you spend acting on the best interests of others versus yourself?

    When you buy your coffee in the morning are you doing it for yourself or to keep the barista employed?

    When you sell your house, are you hoping to get the highest amount someone is willing to pay or should you cut a deal for the benefit of the buyer? In fact, why not just give the home away to someone who is homeless? That would be the selfless act.

    The number of people you claim to have no sense of responsibility to society is tiny. They are called sociopaths. Their numbers are exceeded by several orders of magnitude by people who claim to being doing things for the good of society but are really just using their power to force others to comply with their narrow view.

    Reading “Anthem” in school and using that as the basis to reject all of Rand’s ideas is like reading one sonnet from Shakespeare and rejecting all his works. The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged contain plenty of thought provoking ideas about human behavior and government. Plenty of successful people have been influenced by Rand.


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