Actually, SC could use another month

While walking me back to the studio to tape the Friday radio show at ETV yesterday, the engineer asked me whether I was “as ready for next Wednesday as we are.”

Rather than giving the usual sort of “You bet!” that such a remark generally prompts, I thought for a second and said No, actually I’d like a little more time, thanks.

This morning, an attorney friend also asked whether I was ready to have it over with, and I took the thought further: I think South Carolina could use about one more month, so that it can make a well-considered decision.

As they focus on this gubernatorial decision, more and more voters are realizing what those of us who obsess over politics to an unhealthy degree realized long ago: Vincent Sheheen is easily the better candidate, and there are enough problems with Nikki Haley to make even the staunchest Republican run the other way.

The more they know, the more likely they are to make that decision.

In fact, I’ll go further: I think eventually we will reach a very clear consensus on this in South Carolina. The terrible thing is, I’m afraid we’re going to reach it sometime after next Tuesday. Now if you’re one of the less thoughtful Republicans — one who thinks the thing is for someone with an “R” to win the election, no matter the consequences — you say, “Yay!” to that. But many of those who would cheer today are going to deeply regret that choice sometime in the not-too-distant future, if Nikki wins.

This is inevitable. Every new thing we’ve learned about Nikki the last few months — everything personal, professional, political — has indicated that she falls far short of being the kind of person one would trust with such responsibility. As she is subjected to further scrutiny, I expect this to get worse. She just doesn’t bear close examination.

I’d rather the voters not have to go through that painful buyer’s remorse. I’d rather they reach that decision now. Because I don’t care which team wins elections (the Dems won big in 2008; the Repubs will win big this year; the Dems probably again next time… whoop-ti-frickin’-do; who could possibly think it matters?). What I care about is South Carolina.

We’ve been through too many painful realizations AFTER the fact in South Carolina — after David Beasley, after Jim Hodges, after Mark Sanford. For once, we need to realize the truth BEFORE the election, and choose wisely. We need good leadership more than any other state I can think of.

So it is that when, minutes after that conversation with the attorney, as I was getting off the elevator and another friend asked whether I thought I could survive another week, I said Well, actually, I’d like it to be a little longer…

29 thoughts on “Actually, SC could use another month

  1. Sally

    “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”
    Winston Churchill

  2. bud

    Sorry Brad, the polls are just not tightening up. A month, a year, a decade won’t matter. It’s sad but true. Let’s just get this over with and hope you’re wrong about Nikki.

  3. bud

    There have been 5 polls conducted in October. The results are:

    Haley +14
    Haley +9
    Haley +2
    Haley +5
    Haley +9

    These numbers are about the same as they were a month, 2 months and 3 months ago. Another month won’t change things.

  4. Fred

    So you’re basically saying we’re headed in the direction of what everyone in the country has been saying since Obama got elected… if we only had had a few more months.

  5. Brad

    I’m not sure I know what that means, Fred… “what everyone in the country has been saying since Obama got elected”? What would that be? I can’t imagine, because to my experience there is NOTHING that “everyone in the country is saying” regarding politics. That’s this country’s great curse.

    A little over 50 percent of the people say something one day, and a little over 50 percent say something different the next. But very, very seldom do we approach consensus on anything (even when we should), because the “side” that is at 48 or 45 percent at a given moment screams bloody murder, rants, raves, rips at whatever the temporary majority is trying to do, to maximize polarization and keep us from reaching consensus.

    That, as near as I can tell, is the purpose of the two political parties in this country. And that purpose is enormously destructive.

  6. Barry

    I think Haley is going to win. I told my wife (she doesn’t follow this stuff closely) the same thing this morning.

    She asked me why I thought South Carolina liked “punching itself in the face”.

    I couldn’t really give much of an answer.

    I ended up saying “a love affair with pain.”

    I think this year is just a bad one for someone like Sheheen to win. Obama is just so unpopular (with me as well).

    I realize that a South Carolina Democrat isn’t anything like a Washington Democrat- but some people don’t want to think that hard about it.

  7. bud

    Wow Brad, you sound so gloomy. I guess that’s fitting the week before Halloween. Sure things are not where we need to have them but let’s take look at some positives:

    The current traffic death toll in South Carolina alone so far in 2010 in running 106 below the total we had in 2009, which was a relatively low year. If that trend continues we will have the fewest number of people killed on the state’s roads since 1982. Nationally the numbers are just as encouraging.

    Congress passed a healthcare bill that should improve the lives of millions of Americans.

    The unemployment rate in this country has stabalized and the number of private sector employees has increased slightly over the last few months.

    The U.S. is at long last ending it’s disaterous incursion into Iraq.

    There has not been a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9-11-01.

    The Gamecocks won the 2010 college baseball world series.

  8. kc

    I’d rather the voters not have to go through that painful buyer’s remorse.

    Anyone who votes for Haley is gonna deserve to feel remorse.

  9. Doug Ross

    Maybe after another eight years of Haley, the Sheheen camp will understand that the majority of South Carolinians don’t want a Governor who attempts to build consensus with the Legislature.

    Maybe after Tuesday, Sheheen will realize that trying to win by running a negative campaign against a Republican in one of the reddest states was a foolish idea. He should have been able to win this but he took the low road. He ran a low energy, high negativity campaign against the next hot thing in politics in a state where 55% are Republicans. He never came up with an issue that resonates with people. It should have been jobs, jobs, jobs or education, education, education. Instead it was Sanford, Sanford, Sanford, old tax returns, Haley’s job, I’m a nice guy. Never did anything to appeal to the black community. Never rose above the fray to demonstrate vision.

    Steve Benjamin would have had a better shot at beating Haley. Maybe in 2014.

  10. Mark Stewart


    Nikki Hailey is “the next hot thing”?

    And then you list everything that you think Sheheen did wrong in the campaign. In all of these posts I’m not sure I’ve ever heard your views on what she has done right – beyond being a Republican and a repeater of shallow anti-tax platitudes.

    What positive does Hailey bring to the table that will lead the state to be even marginal improvement within four years? Where’s the beef?

  11. Doug Ross

    I didn’t say I thought she was the next hot thing. She was elevated to the hot list by a variety of factions combined with the general anti-government feeling that has permeated the country pretty much from the time Obamacare was grinding the nation to a halt.

    What has Haley done right? Stayed on message despite the slings and arrows. Didn’t engage in negative advertising until long after Sheheen had been throwing mud at her. I’d say her campaign was 80% about what she wanted to do as Governor and 20% about Sheheen. Sheheen’s was the reverse – 80% about Haley/Sanford and 20% about him. Which was dumb considering very few people knew who he was.

    Remember, I didn’t vote for her. I probably started losing interest in her about the time Palin endorsed her. A Palin endorsement is pretty much a kiss of death for me — much like the McCain selection of Palin solidified my decision to avoid him in 2008.

    I’m looking for candidates like Ron Paul, Steve Forbes, Michael Bloomberg, Chris Christie from NJ. People who don’t need someone else to tell them what to say. And sorry, based on his campaign, Sheheen has been following a textbook Democrat campaign playbook. Boring and negative isn’t my idea of progress.

  12. Juan Caruso

    “I’d rather the voters not have to go through that painful buyer’s remorse. Anyone who votes for Haley is gonna deserve to feel remorse.”

    Not trying to be mean here. What in your opinion is the predicted root of Haley voters’ remorse?

    4 more years of Gov. Sanford?
    Hardly; unlike Sanford, Haley will name names of both Repubs and Dem legislators hiding their votes from the public.

    Allegations of lying about an unproven extramarital affair? Seems voters and even HRC forgave Bill Clinton of the Lewinsky lies.

    Haley’s hospital fund-raising gig?
    Celebs get these jobs. Michele had a higher paying one (no replacement when she left it, either).

    Exercising the legal right of ALL taxpayers to arrange an audit date? Most taxpayers do!

    Exercising the right of ALL taxpayers to pay personal and business taxes late, including interest and attendant penalties?
    No crime there. Incidentally, guess which professiona is most guilty of this sacrilege.As a profession, lawyers have been late more than any other.

    Not being a lawyer? Guilty!

    Not being a female libber? Guilty!

    My entire extended family is voting for Haley, and we are not aligned with either party.

  13. Barry

    @ Doug

    I don’t entirely disagree with you.

    However, Haley didn’t have to really go negative. She just had to avoid making the huge blunder that can sink a front runner.

    When SOME polls showed the race maybe starting to narrow just a touch, she started on doing some negative stuff as well.

    What I’ve been surprised at more tahn anything is that Haley has had one set speech the entire campaign. I’ve heard the same one 20 times now. I would have thought she would have changed it a little. But people don’t care apparently.

  14. Patrick

    Didn’t engage in negative advertising? WTF? Were you asleep during the GOP Primary? That is all she did – trash her opponents. Ron Paul? The Ron Paul wing of the SC GOP has won. Strangely enough it has taken it over from the same people that once were afraid the Christian Coalition would and never did. We’ve always had pretty good Governors in SC all things considered since at least Tillman. She and her most vocal supporters have much in common with Pitchfork Tillman.

  15. Doug Ross


    The Tea Party isn’t Ron Paul. The Tea Party would never go along with Paul’s non-interventionist military beliefs.

    Just like the Christian Coalition, the ideas of the Tea Party are good but they have been taken over by politicians using the name for their own personal gain. I hold Ralph Reed at the same level of contempt as Sarah Palin. Money grubbing opportunists.


    Really? Do you seriously think Sheheen has been the victim in this campaign? Sheheen has been in attack mode since day one.

  16. Barry

    @ Doug

    I don’t think he was attacking from day 1 – but it wasn’t long after that.

    His first ad was about himself and bringing some integrity back to the office. But he didn’t straight out attack her.

    But he had to attack hard. No other way to run a legit campaign in a state where Haley can simply show up and win about 35% of the vote.

  17. Brad

    Funny how people see things differently…

    I don’t see Vincent “attacking” in any negative sense. He finds himself in a weird position. He is up against (and more maddeningly, losing to) someone who has more baggage than anyone we’ve seen in this position in a long time. And voters don’t seem to realize it (because if they did, there’s no way they’d be telling pollsters they’re going to vote for her). Not much was known about Nikki before this process began, because she was such a minor political figure. But every time anyone has tried to find out anything about her — how does she earn a living, does she pay her taxes, are there any conflicts, does she live up to the standards she herself sets? — we have learned some amazingly disturbing things.

    He points these things out, as anyone would (as anyone who cares about this state should, whether he’s running against her or not). He does it factually, and he does it without rancor.

    By contrast, Nikki comes at him with fury and contempt in her voice, calling him a “trial lawyer” (when what he is is a small-town lawyer along the lines of an Atticus Finch, truth be told) and other things meant to stir the lowest, crudest kinds of class resentment, a performance worthy of Huey Long or some other populist demagogue. We’re supposed to resent Vincent because he’s been successful at his line of work, whereas Nikki has failed at everything she’s undertaken, from business to legislating. We’re supposed to think it’s a conflict for an attorney to sometimes interact with government (you know, the source of law) in his profession, but if a question is raised about how, say, she got a job (for which she didn’t have to show up) for six figures due to her political influence and in that job tapped a sleazy industry that she was DIRECTLY charged, as a subcommittee chair, with regulating… well, if you do that, you’re just engaging in tricky, smartass lawyer talk…

  18. bud

    It’s becoming more and more clear to me why Haley is winning even while it is becoming less clear to Brad. I don’t necessarily agree with the reasoning but on some level it makes sense. As I mentioned in a previous post Haley is the Laetril candidate. She promises to heal the cancer of taxes and spending while at the same time making promises about bringing jobs to the state. That’s implausible of course but to the masses it seems like a message of hope.

    But Vincent and Brad come across (and I know this is grossly unfair) as elitists. The more Brad continues to pound away at Haley’s many flaws the more it seems to many voters he’s insulting and demeaning a fine woman who is going to bring about a renaissance of morality and prosperity. Either the talking points are too nuanced for the average voter to grasp or they seem mean.

    Doug was very astute when he suggested that Vincent would have been far better served to focus on one single issue. Instead he got lost in trying too hard to emphasize Haley’s flaws. It’s sort of like attacking one’s family. That’s not to say that some negative attacks aren’t useful, but it is imperative that Vincent push for something simple and easily understood. That way the negative ads would have a chance of getting past the protective wall that Haley has. If folks feel like a candidate will help them then they may be more inclined to believe the facts about Haley’s incompetence and/or immorality.

    In South Carolina it’s just too much to expect rational thought from most voters. Otherwise it’s impossible to explain Strom Thurmond’s last re-election. So rather than going negative, going irrational might have worked better. Then again, I don’t think Vincent is that kind of guy. And maybe that’s a good thing.

  19. Gary Karr

    For all the “painful realizations” you had about David Beasley after he took office, it didn’t stop The State from a strong endorsement of his reelection in 1998. Thought that was worth pointing out.

  20. Doug Ross


    I’m with you 100% on Thurmond. The fact that ANYONE could have voted for him in his last term was a far greater example of the stick-in-the-mud mindset of South Carolina. Thurmond had more personal baggage than a busload of Haley’s and was surely in the depths of dementia by the end.

    Brad – did The State endorse Thurmond for his last term in 1996 when he was 94 years old? He beat Elliot Close by 54-44, about the same percentage I expect to see Haley win by.

    We’d rather do it wrong our way than do something different.

  21. Kathryn Braun Fenner (Mrs. Stephen A.)

    @ bud– you’re giving Brad too much credit– I doubt many Haley voters read this blog, and those who do were never reading it because they respect Brad’s opinions.

    which is not to say that Brad doesn’t have influence over the electorate–I just think in this case, everybody over whom he has influence is over Haley–Democrats, of course, but the many respectable Republicans–Hootie Johnson and Robert Royall have chimed in–and independents who read and respect Brad (and Cindi Scoppe)

    Re-electing Strom Thurmond wasn’t the same thing–Thurmond had valuable power and influence and was the reasonably seen as the most effective representative we could have had, even when he was living at Walter Reed. Voting for him was not irrational.

    Oscar Lovelace makes a great point in today’s paper that the Tea Party proponents should make sure they’re getting tea and not Kool Aid by voting for Haley!

  22. kc

    Not trying to be mean here. What in your opinion is the predicted root of Haley voters’ remorse?

    Well, Juan, I was responding to Mr. W’s comment, but I predict the voters’ remorse will come from finding out that Haley is a self-promoting hustler who isn’t competent to lead.

  23. Barry

    @ Brad

    I visited with my father today. He lives in the upstate. We haven’t talked about the governors race at all since probably June. Back them he was fairly receptive to Ms. Haley’s run for governor.

    He’s a conservative like me (but a little more diehard than I am) – and the first thing he told me today about this race was “I wish we didn’t have to vote now and could wait a little longer.”

    When he said that I thought of this very topic. ( I told him I knew a guy that would agree with him)

    He has watched the debates. He’s listented to Ms. Haley and Sen Sheheen. In fact I was convined before today that he would vote for Ms. Haley. I was surprised when he told me his current thoughts.

    He thinks Ms. Haley will win (like I do sadly. His view is that in the near future folks are going to regret voting for Ms. Haley.

  24. Barry

    @ Kathryn

    I think most Haley supporters aren’t reading much of anything.

    I talked to one (lady) yesterday in my family that was blindly supporting Haley because (she’s a woman).

    I then discussed Haley with her and encouraged her to read some information on both candidates before voting. She emailed me last night and told me she had changed her mind and wouldn’t vote for Haley. Now it’s not always that easy. Some folks that are party line voters won’t change their mind.

    But from my experience on Facebook, reading blogs, and out in the world – it appears most Haley voters are “anti Obama” more than “pro Haley.”

    As is typical in South Carolina, folks get worked up about national politics (and I do as well) and then somehow translate that directly to South Carolina politics 100%. Quite honestly, the differences are many- but that is nuance and more complicated and most folks just don’t examine it closely.

  25. Kathryn Braun Fenner (Mrs. Stephen A.)

    Way to go, Barry! Yay! You win the Kathryn Fenner Good Citizen Award. If more politically knowledgeable people would work to persuade the people they know, we could really make this the great state it can be!

    Don’t complain, people. Do something–after doing your homework first!


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