It’s “a great statement” all right, Senator

I found this photo on thestate.com, courtesy of Thomas C. Hanson. If either The State or Mr. Hanson has a problem with my running it, they should contact me at brad@bradwarthen.com. I just felt it was important to give y'all a chance to discuss it.

Glenn McConnell says the above photo is “a great statement as to how far this state has come.” It certainly is, Senator. It shows that in the past 147 years, South Carolina has advanced at least several days, perhaps even a week, past 1862. I look at this photo, and I know in my bones that in South Carolina, 1863 has finally arrived!

I’ll say one more thing. The issue to me isn’t whether re-enacting or “interpreting” history is a good or bad thing. The issue for me is how into this stuff the senator, who is arguably the most powerful politician in our state, is. He was really pumped, wasn’t he? He really does love dressing the part.

You may have other things to say.

28 thoughts on “It’s “a great statement” all right, Senator

  1. marconi

    Mr. McConnell wash born here, an he wash raished here, and dad gum it, he is gonna die here, an no sidewindin’ bushwackin’, hornswagglin’ cracker croaker is gonna rouin him from his antebellum costumed pomaded bishen cutter….

    Rarebit!!

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  2. Doug Ross

    I don’t get the attraction to this whole re-enactment fetish.

    They don’t do this for the Vietnam War or WWII, do they?

    Term limits. Term limits. Term limits.

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  3. Doug Ross

    And wasn’t there some rumor that the reason Sanford was allowed to stay in office was due to the fact that McConnell would have been “elevated” to Lt. Governor and he didn’t want to lose his power?

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  4. Mark Stewart

    What is interesting to me is that after wearing all those Confederate uniforms for years and years doing the same kinds of things, for some reason he gets called out this time – in a Union uniform.

    Was it somehow socially easier for everyone to address this with only a projected impression of the Confederacy? Does this shot of him in blue, yet with the exact same first impression connotation, somehow give people a greater feeling of propriety in voicing discontent over the Senator?

    Because really, he’s just creepy looking dressed either way. It’s the boyish enthusiasm for sure that’s alarming somehow.

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  5. Brad

    Actually, Mark, if you follow the link above, you find that what the senator is wearing is a Confederate Navy captain’s uniform, not a Union uniform. Your supposition is not far-fetched, because if I remember correctly, the senator also has some Union uniforms in his extensive collection, which I want to say consists of something like 17 (or was it 19?) ensembles. (I’m saying that from memory; I just don’t have the information in front of me now.)

    But in this case, it’s a Confederate uniform.

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  6. Brad

    I’ve always sort of assumed (based on nothing, really) that the reasons we don’t have many WWII re-enactors are that:

    — the equipment is more expensive
    — the battlefields aren’t as accessible

    I mean, suppose you COULD find a working Higgins boat. How would you get it to the reef at Peleliu?

    But anybody can dress up and march around on dusty roads just like the ones the Civil War soldiers marched on — even, on special occasions, the very locations themselves.

    I’m not supposing there’s anything cheap about the outfits Sen. McConnell wears, but I’m guessing — and I could be completely wrong about this — that it would be harder to outfit yourself as, say, a paratrooper.

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  7. Mark Stewart

    Sidewindn’ cracker croaker! Vivid.

    Okay, so its a Confederate naval uniform. The Senator is obviously quite comfortable dressing up. Time to leave it alone.

    The flag at the Statehouse remains the issue that should have everyone’s attention. It would be nice if the Senator could find a way to put that away as he does his costumes; and only bring it out on relevant ceremonial or educational occassions. What if McConnell were to preside over the senate in session in one of these getups? So with the flag flying from the Statehouse grounds.

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  8. martin

    I’m no friend of Glenn and not into Civil War or Revolutionary reenactments, but you think he might be referring to the fact that white AND black citizens of the state can CHOOSE to get involved in playing this game together?

    Or, are we supposed to believe someone forced this couple to get dressed up like this and pose with Glenn? They were interviewed in the Post and Courier and they didn’t sound like they had been coerced.

    Oh, seems like in one of the hundreds of articles about this today, Glenn was quoted as saying it is a Union uniform.

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  9. Kathryn Fenner

    @Doug Ross– I met some lovely people from around Pennsylvania at some outdoorsy place –maybe Four Holes Swamp–who were surprised that no one around here does Revolutionary War re-enactments (at least no like they do up there).

    When I was growing up back in the 60s, the neighbor kids liked to play WW II– drawing on TV shows they’d seen–and not Hogan’s Heroes. It was like playing cowboys and Indians. I don’t know why it doesn’t translate into re-enactments.

    and where are the Doughboys?

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  10. Burl Burlingame

    I’ve done a little reeacting, mostly to get the feel for what conditions are like. Unless you’ve worn a couple of layers of wool in 100-degree weather, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like. It’s awful.
    I might be the only person Brad knows who’s actually broken a tooth on hardtack. And that was after it was boiled for an hour.

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  11. Brad

    Yeah, Kathryn, we always played WWII — or rather, we played soldier within a cultural context of being saturated with WWII images and themes.

    I watched both “the Swamp Fox” and “the Gray Ghost” on TV as a kid, but didn’t get as much into those as into 1940s-era soldiering — or cowboys, of course. Remember, I was a child in the 50s and 60s.

    A couple of weeks back, my uncle (who’s just a little older than I am) and I went out practice shooting with a pair of revolvers, and I was struck by how much it evoked the toy cowboy guns we used to wield in those days. I managed to resist the urge to test my long-neglected quick-drawing skills; I was pretty sure that doing that would cause me to shoot a toe off, Barney-Fife fashion…

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  12. Brad

    Wait a minute, Doug — you don’t have a single adult-size Confederate soldier uniform in your closet? Not even a plain outfit of butternut homespun?

    You must NOT be from around here…

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  13. scout

    This is totally a guess, not being at all into re-enacting myself, but I kind of think WWII re-enacting would not be as appealing to die-hard history buffs because it doesn’t feel old enough. The uniforms and the weapons aren’t way dissimilar to those of today…at least not to my way untrained eye. I realize boys everywhere might be about to bombard me with details to the contrary. I can stand to be corrected, if necessary…but I just don’t think it is quite old enough to have magical quality of otherness that some history buffs get into.

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  14. Pat

    We played Army growing up, but I don’t think re-enactments of WWII would bring pleasant memories to those who lived it. A living history lesson makes some sense for times when there was no live videos. WWII and even WWI have enough video documentation. Brad also has a point on the matter of scale.

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  15. Libb

    A no-bid contract awarded to a campaign contributor, misleading statements (if not downright little white lies) about who was paying the mayor’s political operatives,um, “temporary” staff since April, and an obscure “consulting” contract w/ a sheriff who has an affinity for grandstanding (think Michael Phelps incident) not to mention already being paid (are we really gonna pay him twice?) by the taxpayers to protect the citizens of Cola & Rich Co. My new and improved City Govt is off to a fine start.

    Me thinks this cartoon could also apply to them. Mr Benjamin would be the emperor w/ Wukela & Johnson as his train bearers. City Council and Steve Gantt would be cheering from the sidewalk.

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  16. Kathryn Fenner

    @jack– I couldn’t quite place it, but you nailed it!

    @ Libb– Steve Gantt is the best thing that has happened to the City of Columbia in the past 20 years!!!

    Reply

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