Sweetness is in the eye of the beholder

The Elephant In The Room from SCGOP on Vimeo.

First, sorry about all the posts the last few days about political parties. Such as this one and this one and this one and this one and this one. It’s a disagreeable subject, and one that I usually avoid rather scrupulously. But ever since I made the mistake of delving a bit into the Democrats’ intraparty politics, and then their convention, and then the Republicans’ convention, my attention has been drawn more than usual to this unseemly, depressing topic.

I’m sure I’ll climb out of this ditch soon. But in the meantime… my attention was drawn to the above “sweet video” — his words — by Wesley Donehue.

It generates in me several unpleasant thoughts:

  • My biggest question of all is, who are the “they” that the video repeatedly refers to? First, I don’t know ANYONE who said some of these things. And even if someone did say them, surely the same person/people didn’t say ALL of them? And who would pay any attention to anyone who DID say these things? Which pundits said the GOP was “heading backwards” two years ago? (Personally, I said — and still believe — that after the 2008 defeat that the NATIONAL party, not the SC one, was demoralized to the point that it left a vacuum that was being filled by extremists — and that has certainly had its effects here. But that’s not “heading backwards;” it’s heading somewhere I’d never seen the party go before.) Who on earth ever thought for a moment that Republicans “could never retain the governorship?” Whoever said, ungrammatically, that a “woman governor” was impossible? (For those who didn’t get my point about “ungrammatical” — and fewer and fewer people do these days — “woman” is a noun, not an adjective.) And who even CARED about when the GOP would pay off its mortgage? Talk about your esoteric insider concerns. And on and on.
  • The video illustrates, better than the recent ones Harpootlian has been pumping out, one of the main things that is wrong with political parties: It’s this assumption that because something wears Brand X, it is GOOD. It reminds me of those cars I see with multiple bumper stickers on them, and they are almost always (I could, if all such cars I’ve ever seen were to parade before me, count the exceptions on one hand, with fingers left over) all of one party. As though a thinking person could possibly get so worked up in favor of Candidate A as to deface his or her car with a bumper sticker, and then get so enraptured with another, and another, and another, and they would ALL be of the same party, when that’s the only “virtue” they share. The odds against that, if the voter THINKS about each candidate and makes a discerning choice, are astronomical. And yet that’s what one almost always sees. In this case, we are to embrace the election of Nikki Haley as a GOOD THING (which, deep down, a lot of Republicans do not), and the defeat of John Spratt as an equally good thing, and … this is the part that strains credulity… for the same reasons! When the only characteristics we are given for judging those phenomena are that Ms. Haley is a Ms., and Mr. Spratt has been in office 28 years. Well, those and the fact that the victor in each case happens to wear the Republican label, which is a most dubious unifying characteristic.
  • Finally, according to Wesley, this video about how wonderful it is that the Republican Party treads unopposed across the face of South Carolina was produced by Texans. Specifically, this one and this one. So… apparently the paradise that the GOP rules over here is incapable of producing anyone with the talent to produce a “sweet video.” Or so we are left to gather. Sorry, but ever since I went into the advertising/marketing/communications game I’ve learned to have a low opinion of those who insist on procuring such services from out of state. Like nobody here needs the business, or is good enough.

Well, I could go on, but I won’t. OK, one more point: “Sweet” is an odd thing to call such strident triumphalism. One practically hears the stamp of boots marching in the background, it is SO triumphalist.

OK, I get it; this is a love letter to Karen Floyd. But who saw it as worthwhile to spend money — OUT OF STATE — to produce such a thing? What is its worth to anyone, other than Karen, who is departing the stage?

I’ve just got to start ignoring all this party stuff and find something more pleasant to write about.

17 thoughts on “Sweetness is in the eye of the beholder

  1. Doug Ross

    ” Like nobody here needs the business, or is good enough.”

    Evidently it is the latter. Or is advertising/marketing a commodity business with no differentiation between vendors?

    You think Don Draper only worked for firms in NYC?

  2. Brad

    Well, the GOP evidently doesn’t think anyone here — in the state whose fate is in THEIR hands — is good enough. Which raises questions about the benefits of living under GOP rule…

  3. Brad

    Speaking of triumphalist video — or film, anyway…

    I just ran across this photo of Leni Riefenstahl, and it suddenly hit me that she looks — just in this one photo — a little like Nikki Haley.

    Which is not to say anything bad about our governor, when one is talking LOOKS. Because Leni Riefenstahl was quite lovely.

    Of course, pretty is as pretty does…

  4. Phillip

    Aww, give Wesley (and the video-makers) a break. When you’re the 800-pound gorilla lording it over the little flea, out of all your many advantages one that you CANNOT have is that of playing the “underdog overcoming adversity” role. The state GOP has everything going for them except that one thing, which must drive them nuts. So, they just took a little creative license and made up the idea that they have been the underdogs in SC politics.

    On one level, it’s funny of course (yes, especially the bit about the building mortgage!). But on another level, it’s actually kind of a recapitulation of the overall sad, sad narrative of SC politics: which is that the GOP has wielded virtually unchecked power in this state for some time now, but somehow magically deflects blame from itself for all of the state’s ills. The video is basically another mode of hyping this fiction.

    No truth to the rumor that Hu Jintao has hired these Texans to produce a similar video “They Said Hu Could Never Retain the General Secretaryship of the Chinese Communist Party.”

  5. Brad

    And speaking of the Republicans — I ran into Chad Connelly, their new chairman, at lunch today. I’d never met him before (the only one of the chair candidates I had known at all was Bill Connor). He came up and introduced himself to me. Very personable fellow. Strong handshake. Very amenable to doing “The Brad Show” sometime soon, so watch for that…

  6. Brad

    That’s good, Phillip! How about, “They said Qaddafi couldn’t hold on to Tripoli this long”… or “They said the Mississippi couldn’t rise so high”…

    NOT that I’m saying the Republicans are dictators (some of them get all sensitive). But I AM saying that just because something happened doesn’t mean that it’s a GOOD thing that it happened…

  7. Andrew

    Sloppy wet kiss towards the Karen Floyd chairmanship, that’s all.

    It’s a party leadership celebrating themselves. From a partisan point of view, Floyd accomplished pretty much everything she could accomplish in her term.

    So yeah, the video is full of straw men and all, but it looks like any corporate video I’ve ever seen where the leadership wants to congratulate themselves.

  8. Brad

    Just to go ahead and get another set of people mad at me…

    Wes Wolfe wrote via email that he had seen “woman” used as an adjective so much he figured it was AP style now or something. I reacted along the following lines…

    I was just being a linguistic reactionary.

    “Woman this” and “woman that” has predominated for about 30 years now. It’s still wrong. A person can be female, feminine, womanly, girlish, and still be grammatically correct, but the thing is that “woman” is a noun.

    Where the rash of wrong usage came from I’m not sure, but it seems that something happened within the feminist movement. Once, you were a sexist if you called someone a “woman lawyer” or “woman doctor.” You were unnecessarily calling attention to gender, because a lawyer or doctor could just as easily be a woman as a man, and there was nothing remarkable about it. (To me, that objection made some sense.)

    Then, I suppose because the existing adjectival forms all had connotations feminists didn’t like, and there were times when they WANTED to call attention to gender, feminists themselves started using the “woman” construction. (“Woman” is sort of a feminist banner, having just the right ideological connotation, as opposed to unacceptable terms such as “lady.”) And once feminists, or people who want to sound feminist (or who fear offending feminists) start using a certain construction, it’s grammar and proper usage be damned. Case in point: Using “they” to refer to a single person, because, you know, the inclusive “he” is no longer acceptable. Never mind that “they” is grossly illogical. Things like that don’t bother ideologues.

  9. Brad

    And Andrew… that’s another thing about parties — their straw men. If they don’t have anyone to oppose, they have to invent someone, such as this mysterious “they,” because they’re all about uniting to oppose those OTHER people…

  10. Wesley Donehue

    Brad – I expected someone of your journalistic prowess to do a little more research. Scott Howell is a shining example of “South Carolina boy done good.” From Bennetsville, SC Scott is the owner of one of the nation’s leading political advertising firms. He also sits on the USC Board of Visitors.


    As for the rest of your gibberish, your ad firm is good enough to succeed without bashing others. You’re starting to sound like one of us political operatives.

  11. Nick Nielsen

    Oh, my goodness. They truly came from behind, didn’t they?

    To quote Sherman Potter, “Horsehockey!”

    I did find myself chuckling at the end of it, though. As the majestic tones faded out, we were left with a rhythmic pattern that sounded to me like the “pin drop” that Sprint used to use, repeated over and over and over and…

    I will admit, I think my PC audio is defective.

  12. Ralph Hightower

    Winning the governorship by 51% is not a resounding victory. Nikki Haley just squeaked by. If she had been hammered on her taxes, finances, and her appearances on “transparency”, it could’ve gone the other way.

  13. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    @ Ralph– it’s the same sort of Republican mandate that brought us the Decider, remember? Except he didn’t even get that many votes….

  14. Burl Burlingame

    Who actually paid for this ad? The Repubs are doing national work with just a few ad agencies, with funneled money. They often recycle ads by changing the names and states.


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