Any club that would have ME as a member…

Today, I find myself in a bit of an ethical dilemma. And as y’all know, I am Mr. Ethics, although I do have a certain penchant for placing myself in … ambiguous… circumstances.

Y’all also know that I’m a member of The Capital City Club, of quite a few years’ standing. I’m quite proud of the club and its heritage, since it was founded to provide an inclusive alternative for certain other clubs that somehow hadn’t gotten around to admitting any black or Jewish or female members. Not only am I a member, but I serve on the club’s board.

In that capacity I know that, with the economic downturn, we can use all the special events we can get. At the wonderfully low price of the club’s “Breakfast Club,” my eating grits and bacon there every morning isn’t exactly paying the light bill. With that in mind we held my great-aunt’s 100th birthday lunch there recently, and a lovely time was had by all. And if your family has a wedding coming up and you need a reception venue, let me know and I’ll see what I can arrange…

So it is with a mixture of grateful welcome and wry amusement that I look upon this item, which a colleague shared with me with the observation, “Interesting choice of location for our little populist …” Here’s what the press advisory said:

(Columbia, SC) – Today, the Haley for Governor Campaign released information regarding location for the campaign’s primary night celebration.

What: Haley for Governor Primary Night Celebration

Where: Capital City Club, 1201 Main Street, Columbia, S.C.

When: Tuesday, June 8th

Event begins at 7:00 pm.  Media will have access beginning at 5:30 pm….


Personally, I think it’s absolutely fine that Nikki chose our club for her event. I may swing by to welcome her and her entourage. I’m sure they’ll find it an enjoyable experience, especially if the election returns break as I think they will, with her at least in a runoff.

And I doubt her populist fans will object. I don’t think they’re that kind of populist.

11 thoughts on “Any club that would have ME as a member…

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    I’m a bit confused–is s/he suggesting that Cap City is elitist? Because it never struck me that way–it *is* a private club, but not an exclusive one, as you say. If she had it at the Palmetto Club or Forest Lake Country Club….

    Now if she chose to have her event at the Capital Club…

  2. Michael P.

    As much as you’ve badmouthed and bashed her and the Republican party, don’t expect to get a hug from her. If it were me and you showed up, I’d have you escorted out.

    Where does Kathryn see anything stating that Haley thinks the Capitol City Club is elitist?

    Actually I’m one who does see it as an elitist club, it’s a place to go to be seen…. because it’s not exactly the best food in Columbia. If you want a much better breakfast one of the best is The Inn at USC, but you’re not going to rub elbows with the State House mega-egos and you don’t have to be a member to get through the door. If you want to go further, meet the “regular folk” at a Hardees or Bojangles. Best of all you can leave your jacket and tie at home.

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    Michael P– I stated that I was confused by the statement “interesting choice by our little populist,” and impliedly, surmised that it was because the Capital City Club was accused of being elitist. Else, why would it be an interesting choice for a populist?

    Then you confirm my statement. [scratches head]

  4. Michael P.

    Kathryn – So would you agree the Capitol City Club is popular is because it’s a place to be seen? Is the food/breakfast better there than The Inn at USC?

  5. Ralph Hightower


    You must’ve gotten a damned good severance package from The State to continue membership in the Capital City Club. Unemployment checks don’t cover the membership dues.

    I don’t know how you did it.

    A former employer treated us to lunch up there and I’ve gotten breakfast during Toastmasters meeting on that floor. But the club was treated like second class citizens.

    Still, it’s a stunning view of the city, whether on the 23rd floor or the 21st.

  6. Kathryn Fenner

    I have never eaten breakfast at either place. I don’t think you can come in and eat breakfast at the Inn at USC unless you are a guest (you can have a drink in the historic lobby in the late afternoon and evening, though, and I recommend it.)

    Just because you can see top people somewhere, doesn’t make it elitist. There are a few restaurants in West Columbia where the elite meet to eat, too. A club that is open to pretty much anyone who can pay –for all I know, anyone who can pay–doesn’t qualify as “elitist”–anymore than an expensive restaurant is “elitist.” A club that will not allow women or blacks or Jews or Catholics or non-college graduates is “elitist.”

    Trinity Cathedral, in whose choir I sing, has many powerful people there on Sundays, but you are welcome, truly welcome any time. It has some “elites” but is not elitist.

  7. Brad


    I hate to argue with you, Kathryn, because you’re on the side of the angels on this, or trying to be…

    But I’m not sure I’m quite on board with your definition of “elite.” If you don’t see Trinity’s congregation as the elite, I’m not sure where you’d draw the line. Maybe it’s just the events I’ve been to there, or maybe it’s my knowledge of who’s buried in that churchyard.

    Personally, I go to the noon Mass at St. Peter’s because it’s truly catholic — all classes, many nationalities, several languages. When I go to other Roman churches I’m often struck by how white and upper-middle they are. There’s a church in Greenville that is SO that way that I feel like I’m in an episode of Mad Men or something. So white. So upper. So retro in feel.

    But that’s what I feel on my few occasions at Trinity.

    Now, lest you or anyone else get defensive … I don’t see “elite” as necessarily a pejorative, although it is seen as such in our uber-democratic society. I think we could use a tad of elitism, and start by having smart, well-read, thoughtful people running things — which is a kind of elite. Less guy next door, more a boffin who strikes one as a bit smarter than oneself. We could do with that.

    And Michael’s almost right — he’s the mirror image of right. One joins a business dining club NOT to be seen, but because of the people you see. You’re always running into people you need to touch base with. In my case, that’s sources — and more lately, clients and potential clients. You run into people without having to track them down or work through layers or make appointments. You stay in touch.

    And you never know when what you pick up will come in handy. For instance, several years ago I picked up some inside info about John Edwards at a reception at the club. If I had just been “press” without being a member, I might have felt constrained to wait in the corner with the other media. But I mingled instead, and learned something that had no apparent importance at the time. But it because a linchpin of that notorious column about him that I wrote years later. It came in handy.

    This may sound odd, but since I had no clue I was going to be laid off, in the months before I was, I was dreading the possibility of losing my club membership (which the paper then paid for), because I would lose a certain sort of access.

    THAT, in fact, is why it was so wrong to exclude people arbitrarily — say, for being black. Because you were denying them that advantage of membership.

    So yeah, club membership gives you access to “elites” defined various ways. But there’s not a thing wrong with that.

  8. Matt

    Wow, Brad. Thank you so very much for allowing the simple folk in to your club to cheer on Nikki Haley! You know, all those tea party rubes who don’t know what’s best for them, who just can’t seem to see the ugliness of Haley and how she will destroy state government. Hopefully more people will lecture them about how objectively wrong they are. But you are a generous man to allow them into your club this Tuesday!

  9. Michael P.

    BTW – What are membership dues at the Capitol City Club? If it’s an open club, those should be public information.

    Kathryn – Anyone can eat at the Inn at USC.


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