Nikki Haley, Vincent Sheheen offer clear choice on Confederate flag

The contrast between Vincent Sheheen and Nikki Haley will be sharp on a lot of issues, and we’ll get to them over the coming months.

But today, I want to highlight the difference between them on the Confederate flag flying on our State House grounds, as a window into broader differences. (And why that issue today? Because today is the 10th anniversary of the day it moved from the dome to the spot behind the soldier monument.)

Gina Smith in The State provided the following vignettes showing the difference. From Vincent Sheheen:

If elected governor in November, Sheheen said he is open to discussing the removal of the flag from the State House grounds. He was elected to the S.C. House a year after the compromise.

“We must develop an environment that creates jobs,” Sheheen said. “We cannot give up any edge that South Carolina has in attracting a large employer coming to South Carolina. After the last eight years, we must be proactive in creating a positive image of our state to the world.”

Sheheen offers no details, though, including locations where he would consider having the flag relocated.

“I have no predetermined proposal on the flag, but would like to work with legislative leaders, business leaders and community leaders to finally reach consensus. My job as governor will be to bring people together to reach consensus on how best to heal any divisions, including the flag,” he said.

It is unclear whether Sheheen supports the NAACP’s boycott.

And from Nikki Haley:

Haley wasn’t elected to the House until 2004. Haley believes a compromise was reached and the issue resolved.

“It was settled and it has been put away. And I don’t have any intentions of bringing it back up or making it an issue,” she said in a recent interview with the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Instead, Haley said her focus is on making state government more transparent and more business-friendly. “If the people aren’t focused on the flag, it’s hard to see why the governor and General Assembly should be,” said Rob Godfrey, Haley’s spokesman.

Haley implied in the Sons of Confederate Veterans interview that she would work with the NAACP and others who want the flag removed from the State House grounds to address the NAACP boycott. “I’m the perfect person to deal with the boycott. Because, as a minority female, I’m going to go and talk to them and I’m going to go and let them know that every state has their traditions. … But we need to talk about business. And we need to talk about having (businesses) come into our state …”

As you see, Vincent understands that the time must come when we stop portraying our state to the world as a haven for neo-Confederate extremists who insist upon continuing to embrace the worst moments of our history. He’s just too diplomatic to put it in quite those terms. If he had the chance, he’d get it down. By the way, his Uncle Bob, the former speaker, had the best idea of all about what to do about the flag: Replace it with a bronze plaque noting that it once flew here. That’s a solution that would enable us to move on. But the GOP leadership refused to seriously consider that or any other reasonable solution on the ONE DAY they allowed for debate before rushing to embrace this “compromise” that settled nothing.

Nikki, however, promises not to touch it, which is the standard South Carolina Republican response. And now that she’s promised it to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, that’s that. Which is a real shame, given that since she wasn’t in the Legislature at the time, no one could legitimately pretend that she is in any way bound by the “compromise” of 2000. She wasn’t a party to it.

She’s come a long way from being the inspiring emblem for tolerance that she truly was when she ran in 2004, when I took up the cudgels for her against the forces of ugly nativism. I’d like to see the national media folks who are SO EXCITED, in their superficial way, that an Indian-American woman might be elected in South Carolina take a moment to consider this. They also might want to watch her cozying up to the neo-Confederates in these video clips. Just something that should go into the calculation…

Note also the HUGE difference in their understanding of the impact of the flag on economic development. Vincent understands that if we want the rest of the world to take us seriously, the flag needs to come down. Nikki thinks the only obstacle to economic development here is the rather sad, ineffective boycott by the NAACP, which is weird on several levels.

35 thoughts on “Nikki Haley, Vincent Sheheen offer clear choice on Confederate flag

  1. Doug Ross

    Sheheen is “open to discussing the removal of the flag”? That’s leadership? He can’t just come out say he wants it removed? You call that “too diplomatic to put it in quite those terms”. Others would call it typical political double-talk. What’s next? Forming a committee to reach an understanding on the parameters to open a dialogue on the potential pros-and-cons of addressing the flag issue?

    Man up, Sheheen.

    Here’s my opinion on the flag.

    “Take it down”.

  2. sorenkay

    “If he had the chance, he’d get it down.”

    He won’t have a chance… you know that… and more businesses will boycott SC over his stupid state contract plan than over the confederate flag…

  3. Lynn

    This is just another way that Haley didn’t defeat the racists, she joined them. Her policies on the economy and education appeal to the same folks. The real subtext of racism in South Carolina is primarily expressed in angry claims that government subsidizes African-Americans, rather than in Jake Knott’s blatant terms. Haley is pandering to this; she is a fine standard bearer for the Southern Strategy.

  4. sorenkay

    “I took up the cudgels for her against the forces of ugly nativism.”

    She already won… you didn’t do jack… I swear that article is why you have a lot of bitterness towards her… you feel like she owes you… the passive aggressiveness in the next unquoted line really gives it away…

  5. Doug T

    After watching the interview video….it’s downright scary. I wonder if the CNNs of the world will stop going ga ga long enough to see that Nikki is pandering to those who want to keep this state stuck in the 19th century.

    A vote for a minority woman is progress? Not in this election.

  6. Matt

    Here’s another take on this based on Sheheen’s and Haley’s comments on the issue above:

    Basically Sheheen is not content to let sleeping dogs lie. When the vast majority of South Carolinians–black and white–are talking about many more important things than the flag, he’s seeking to dredge up what’s largely a non-issue for his own political reasons. Those comments of Sheheen’s were made during the primary, no?

    But actually his answer to the question on the flag is basically a pure political answer where–if you read closely enough–he doesn’t take a position one way or another on the issue. He’s just reciting vanilla talking points, which I guess should be expected given he is a politician.

    And he won’t even say that he is opposed to an economic boycott of the economy that he wants to be in-charge of? Oh, and I wonder if Sheheen or any of the other ten people going on about the flag have an answer for how it is that we’ve been literally having a consistent string of announcements over the past several months of new companies large and small both relocating to SC or expanding existing businesses here. Is it just that they didn’t bother to check if any strange rags are flying next to statues of dead soldiers? Actually, this begs the question as to whether there is even a longer list of companies that no one knows about of companies that would have definitely come to SC but-for the flag? A secret list?!?!

    Oh, and since we can’t expect a nice word about Haley, I’ll offer some. At least she’s forward thinking enough (dare I say…progressive) to know that the reason multi-billion dollar corporations may or may not come to South Carolina is not based on a piece of historical cloth on a pole. That’s silly. Oh, and since you took the shot at her about the attention she gets for being Indian-American (that one REALLY seems to stick in the craw of the Dems, doesn’t it) at least she’s proving that you can actually be a racial minority and not have the same monolithic knee-jerk reaction to these types of “racial” issues that the NAACP and white libs expect people like her to have.

  7. Brad

    And Doug, the huge difference is that when asked, Vincent is open to the issue, and Nikki is firmly closing the door. And being open is the key. I haven’t seen any nominee for governor be as honestly open to the issue as that. Most are too afraid of it.

    I don’t expect any candidate to run on a “bring it down” platform (I would if I were running — but I’m not very pragmatic). In the weird world of Confederate flag politics, Vincent’s statements are clear: He wants it down.

    In the meantime, if he makes dramatic statements to that effect, he loses votes, from liberals like Bud who think talking about this is a waste of time to conservatives like Matt who think he’s “dredging up” something.

    Matt, he’s not dredging up a thing. He didn’t bring up the subject. The State was doing a 10-year anniversary story on the subject, and in the course of that they spoke to several people who were key participants in the debate at the time — such as Jim Hodges, John Courson, Darrell Jackson and Lonnie Randolph — as well as the two people running for governor now.

    Neither Nikki nor Vincent brought this up. The State did. And I found the answers they got revelatory.

  8. sorenkay

    Brad, the answers they got were not new… Sheheen’s were taken from a televised debate and Nikki’s were taken from a videotaped interview that was later uploaded by someone hostile to her…

  9. sorenkay

    “Several comments back, someone said I exhibit “bitterness” toward Nikki. Huh. When, exactly? I missed that part.”

    It’s obvious in everything you say about her…

  10. sorenkay

    “Her policies on the economy and education appeal to the same folks.”

    No, it’s the democrats’ education policies that more resemble slave masters…

  11. Doug Ross

    Here you go again, Brad, telling us what Sheheen’s words really mean. It’s a simple “yes” or “no” question. I don’t agree with Haley’s position but at least she HAS a position. Saying you’re “open to discussing it” is not a position. It’s a political dodge.

    Just like Sheheen’s website where he says the Department of Commerce is full of cronyism. Well, Vince, if you know who the cronies are, tell us. Do something that demonstrates you aren’t just another politician playing word games.

    He can’t win playing Mr. Milquetoast in the middle.

  12. scout

    The most concerning thing about Haley’s position is it seems to show that she esteems the good favor of the Sons of Confederate Veterans over being open to finding out what works best for the people of South Carolina. I suppose really many politicians could be guilty of such trade offs, but we don’t always know it with such blatant certainty, like we do in this case thanks to that video. Why should the desires of this group be placed over the needs/wishes of the State as a whole?

  13. Doug Ross

    Assume the flag comes down tomorrow. How long will it be before we see the economic boomlet you suggest is being held back by the flag? Taking down the flag won’t change our under-educated work force and over-complicated tax system.

    The flag should come down for one reason: it offends a large portion of the people of this state.

  14. bud

    Replace it with a bronze plaque noting that it once flew here. That’s a solution that would enable us to move on.

    Surely you’re kidding if you think that will end the issue. Folks would STILL protest.

  15. bud

    Doug, you are so correct on Sheehen’s flag position, or rather lack of a position. I get so irrateted with politicians who won’t answer basic questions. But our system does seem to reward folks like that.

  16. Bart

    “It was settled and it has been put away. And I don’t have any intentions of bringing it back up or making it an issue,” Nikki Haley.

    Maybe the difference here is that Haley understands the flag issue is another strawman and in fact, has no place in the governor’s race, except to those who want to use it for political expediency.

    It should be taken down and put in a museum. However, at this moment in history, we need to concentrate on the economy and jobs. As Matt said, with the exception of a few sporting events cancelled because of the flag issue, just how many small or large companies considering moving to South Carolina based their decision on whether the flag was still flying or not?

    When it comes to economic considerations, the flag is a non-issue. Tax breaks, utility breaks, adequate labor force, construction costs, land costs, transportation, infrastructure, and other, more important factors are given much greater consideration than the flag issue.

    Kathy Ireland dropping sponsorship of a tennis tournament on Daniel Island did not bankrupt the city or state. Moving a basketball tournament away from Myrtle Beach didn’t provide much of a dent and the NCAA not allowing sanctioned tournaments to be played in SC has not brought the state to its knees either.

    If a major corporation were to announce South Carolina lost a new facility, that would provide hundreds of new jobs, and the deciding factor was the flag, then maybe it would become a real issue.

    Query. How many on this blog work for the state and have strong objections to the flag flying on state grounds? If your convictions are strong enough, why do you continue working for an employer who obviously is not going to take it down unless forced to do so? Are your convictions strong enough to give up a paycheck and walk away? That is the central issue at this moment.

    With rare exceptions, I never agree with bud on anything. But, on this one, he is absolutely right. It is nothing more than an issue that keeps fanatics on both sides occupied with another cause.

  17. bud

    Neither Nikki nor Vincent brought this up. The State did.

    Yet another reason not to read The State. They can’t find out even a minimal amount of relevant information about the Democratic candidate for US Senate because it involves too much work. So what do they do? Dredge up a non issue. This is typical lazy journalism to fill what little space that remains.

  18. Phillip

    Nikki Haley: “I’m the perfect person to deal with the boycott. Because, as a minority female, I’m going to go and talk to them and I’m going to go and let them know that every state has their traditions.”

    Every state has their “traditions”? And conservatives accuse liberals of cultural relativism!

    Plus, this is offensive because it presumes that the circumstances of one minority within the society are identical to the circumstances of all minorities, whereas Ms. Haley is educated enough to know the history that this particular flag symbolizes. It would be as if the NAACP would come to Ms. Haley’s parents and dismiss their feelings about Operation Blue Star, the destruction of the Golden Temple, the anti-Sikh riots and killings of 1984.

  19. Michael Rodgers

    For those who are interested, on June 22 the Wall Street Journal Online discussed Nikki Haley’s interview with the Palmetto Patriots:

    “Like her three GOP rivals for the governor’s office, Mrs. Haley sat this spring for a videotaped interview with the Palmetto Patriots, a local activist group that aims to “fight attacks against Southern Culture” and talks with candidates “to ensure compliance with conservative values.”

    “But Mrs. Haley was the only one to be asked the freighted question of what she thought had caused the Civil War.

    “Members of the group were curious about Mrs. Haley’s views because of her heritage, said Robert Slimp, a Columbia, S.C., pastor who participated in the questioning. The group did not ask her rivals about the war, he said, because “all of them are Southerners whose families go back to beyond the war between the states, back to antebellum times, and they would have a deeper appreciation of Southern thinking and mentality.””

  20. Mark Stewart

    It’s a moral issue; period. Forget the economics for a moment, even though they are relevant. In the same way, peel back the politics. However, keep the historical context. Then one should ask oneself should the Confederate flag fly at the State House?

    As everyone here says; it’s a non-issue. Because the silent majority knows which side of this issue we should ALL be on.

    What is sad is that a very small minority keeps this festering – by appealing to a larger segment who share some sympathies with the rabid few. It is this larger group of sympathizers who must choose a side – catagorically. To rationalize, historize or simply to quibble over the unfairness of having to continue to air the issue is morally indefensable. Choose one’s side. And make it known.

    I mean, really, this is America. Happy 4th of July, y’all!

  21. Kathryn Fenner

    *“Members of the group were curious about Mrs. Haley’s views because of her heritage, said Robert Slimp, a Columbia, S.C., pastor who participated in the questioning. The group did not ask her rivals about the war, he said, because “all of them are Southerners whose families go back to beyond the war between the states, back to antebellum times, and they would have a deeper appreciation of Southern thinking and mentality.””*


    Why does this surprise me?

  22. Michael P.

    Ah, as long as I post something off-topic it gets posted, if I post something on-topic it gets blocked. That’s one way to run a blog… I guess.

  23. Brad

    Are you being obtuse (which seems to be one of the several ways you like to be difficult), or do you still not get it?

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt one last time, and explain: If you come on all obnoxious, with scorn and hostility and trying to belittle, mock, or insult other people, you don’t get approved. It’s pretty simple.

    People are pretty sick of your constant digs and bad faith and insults. I know I am, and I’ve gotten e-mails about it from others. So cut it out, or none of your comments will be approved.

    Basically, you just need to act the way grownups are expected to do when they talk to each other.

    I’m giving you this benefit of the doubt and explaining because I worry that maybe I’ve been too subtle with you, and with some people that doesn’t work. For instance, I have bent over backward to approve your comments that are merely borderline. That’s probably done you no favors.

    No doubt someone will object to MY tone in this response because explaining the obvious so flatly can sound like condescension. Well, I don’t know how to avoid that and still EXPLAIN, since subtlety hasn’t worked.

    Oh, one more objection I’ll just go ahead and anticipate: You may say that OTHER people get to be a little edgy and I still approve them. (To which any teacher would tell you, “Don’t worry about what they get to do; worry about yourself and what you do.”) That’s right. But that’s as bad as they get. I’m watching them, too, but none of them have your track record.

    Say there’s a 1-10 scale of incivility. I’m approving your 5s, but not your sixes, sevens, eights and nines. I might occasionally allow a six from someone else because that’s as bad as they get, and they’re not on probation. But I’m watching to see if they, too, become a problem.

  24. Michael P.

    “If you come on all obnoxious, with scorn and hostility and trying to belittle, mock, or insult other people, you don’t get approved.”

    So, since my comments are directed at the people in the subject material and not the others making comments, it’s one of those “do as I say, not as I do” things.

    BTW – Several of your comments in your articles fall into your 6-9 incivility (is that really a word) scale. I’ve seen few others get as nasty toward Mark Sanford and Nikki Haley as you do.

    I guess I’m now on double-secret probation.

  25. Brad

    Apparently, you’re starting to get the message. Yes. Double-secret probation.

    And just as apparently, you don’t understand WHY you’re on double-secret probation. I regret that. I’ve tried to explain it.

    As for your comment about “do as I say, not as I do”… We could argue all day about whether you’re right, but it really doesn’t matter. As I told you before, don’t worry about what others do; worry about what you do. I’ve told you you are particularly a problem. Believe me or not, but I’m going to act as I see fit to preserve the kind of environment that encourages other civil people to participate.

  26. Michael P.

    So you don’t deny being as ugly as you say I am with your comments.

    I’m not the one using the what others do as in other people who post here excuse, I’m talking about you… the blog owner. You are the one responding to complaints I’ve never made.

    Like I’ve said several times, there are two ways to think and write on this blog, Brad’s Way and The Wrong Way. That’s quite the ego you have Brad. No room for discussion or argument, it’s toe the line or be threatened with dismissal.

  27. Brad

    Well, that’s it. My patience is at an end. So is this discussion.

    I’ll never understand people who strive so hard to waste other people’s time and make discourse as unpleasant as they can. But for me, I’ve spent enough time trying to get a meeting of the minds on this.

  28. Kathryn Fenner

    @Mark Stewart–Yeah–why not fly the Union Jack, too (or whatever the flag was back then, too)–like Six Flags over Texas (that was the original Six Flags amusement park, if I am correct. The six flags included Spain and the Republic of Texas…)

    We could fly every single flag this land was ever under–including all the different iterations of the US flag–48 stars, etc.

  29. Michael P.

    Who died?

    I can say the same thing about Burl.

    (Note: Brad, before you decide not to post this message, please note that I didn’t say anything other than what your ol’ buddy Burl said… and you had no problem posting his message.)


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