Several weeks back, Corey Hutchins of The Free Times called to say he was working on a profile of Nikki Haley for The Nation magazine. He wanted to talk with me about it, and asked if I’d meet him for a beer at Yesterday’s. He didn’t have to twist my arm. (Note the ad — be sure to check out Yesterday’s. Good food, good beer, good company, reasonable prices.)
So we met, and I said a bunch of stuff, and later I got a call from a fact-checker at The Nation, so I knew that the piece was coming out soon. (Yeah, just like in “Almost Famous.” To a newspaperman, the whole “fact-checker” thing is weird. If you’re going to have a staffer check all the facts, why not just send them to do the story to start with? But when you’re using freelance, which magazines do, I guess this is something you have to do to protect yourself. When a reporter works for you, it’s different. You can fire his butt if he tries to put one over on you, and he knows it.)
Anyway, Corey did a pretty good job. Personally, I don’t normally enjoy reading The Nation, but this was good. And he did an excellent job of extracting something intelligent-sounding from my ramblings:
Still, like so many Palmetto State chief executives before her, Haley seems to be angling for a spot on a national ticket. She is already penning her memoir. “Every governor we’ve had since Carroll Campbell has had national aspirations, but with her it’s more naked and obvious,” says Brad Warthen, a Columbia advertising man who until 2009 was the longtime editorial page editor of the State. Warthen endorsed Haley in two legislative elections and chronicled her rise beginning about seven years ago. In that time, he says, she has morphed from a naïve newcomer, to a politician he thought could become a good force in the legislature, to something approaching megalomania.
“I think she’s had her head turned by discovering where demagoguery will get you,” Warthen told me. “I don’t think that’s totally who she was before. I think she has developed in this direction. It’s a B.F. Skinner behavioral reinforcement thing; she has been rewarded and rewarded and rewarded. This has worked for her. And she continues to charm the national media. Because you know what? They don’t care. It’s just a story.”…
You see what just happened? Yep. For the first time ever, after a 35-year career in newspapers, I was just identified in a national magazine as an “advertising man.” Move over, Don Draper. You’re about to be replaced in the national imagination.
There were other good bits. Such as this, the result of an interview with John Rainey:
But Haley has been navigating a series of land mines—IRS disputes, questionable business deals and appointments, multiple adultery allegations—any one of which threatens to blow up her political career. “I believe she is the most corrupt person to occupy the governor’s mansion since Reconstruction,” declared John Rainey, a longtime Republican fundraiser and power broker who chaired the state’s Board of Economic Advisers for eight years. A 69-year-old attorney, Rainey is an aristocratic iconoclast who never bought the Haley myth. “I do not know of any person who ran for governor in my lifetime with as many charges against him or her as she has had that went unanswered,” he told me on a recent afternoon at his sprawling horse farm outside the small town of Camden. “The Democrats got Alvin Greene; we got Nikki Haley. Because nobody bothered to check these guys out.”
OK, so John was way more provocative than I was. But I think I sounded more erudite.