Nikki Haley was at Rotary today, too

OK, so Lee Bandy wasn’t the only person visiting Columbia Rotary today. He was just the one I enjoyed seeing the most. Nikki Haley made her first appearance at the club since back during the election.

As I said on Twitter, she gave a good speech, centered around her usual themes. She just gets smoother and stronger at that all the time. Guess I was wrong when I said she peaked that day with Sarah Palin; she has continued to maintain her speaking skills at a high level. So I guess it’s more accurate to say she reached a plateau on May 14, 2010. Either that, or this is another peak. If so, I’m not sure what put her in her Zone.

Certainly not audience reaction. The Rotarians applauded a couple of times — the biggest response was when she was sticking up for Boeing. But it was polite, not what anyone would call enthusiastic.

Speaking of polite, I thought you’d enjoy the above clip when our own Kathryn Fenner — who had publicly expressed uneasiness ahead of time about whether she would behave herself — challenged Nikki in a deeply respectful manner. Did it better than I would have. Whenever I’m confronted with any of Nikki’s bumper-sticker platitudes, which she pronounces with such deep conviction, I tend to go into pompous lecturing mode, as I did on this occasion (dang it; I can’t find a link to that video…) in response to her umpteenth repetition in my presence that the wanted to “run government like a business.”

What Kathryn responded to is, like the government-as-business thing (which tends to be spoken with the greatest enthusiasm by people who understand neither business nor government), a favorite of politicians of the libertarian-populist variety. It always goes something like, When families have a windfall, they save it rather than spending it. Which, of course, is nonsense. In hard times, families are more likely to spend a windfall on the necessities they’ve been deferring, such as that new roof on the house, or warm winter coats for the kids. Ditto with the related nostrum, When families fall on hard times, they tighten their belts. Yeah, of course they do — and at the same time they search frantically for ways to bring more revenue into the house. But people too seldom challenge these facile sayings, so it was good that Kathryn did so, and so very politely.

The speech itself, while well delivered, didn’t have anything in it that I found both new and interesting. I’ll be interested to see what the working media who were there lead with. I saw that Yvonne Wenger of The Post and Courier Tweeted this: “Haley unveils preliminary details on faith-based, community-based Neighbors Helping Neighbors program to get state engaged in meeting needs.” But there weren’t many such details. And that’s kind of a yawner. Republicans, even more mainstream Republicans than Nikki, are constantly trying to show they care by calling on churches to do what they don’t want government to do. You know, like maybe the churches aren’t actually trying now, and need the governor to tell them how.

Anyway, that was just in passing, in response to a question. Her main thrust was pretty much standard boilerplate, talking about what she saw as the main accomplishments of her first months in office — roll call voting, other stuff you’ve read about before.

It was interesting to see the rather substantial media contingent at the meeting — one of the larger such turnouts I’ve seen at South Carolina’s largest Rotary club. Their presence seemed to indicate they saw this as a bit of an event. I suppose the governor doesn’t get out much and speak to large groups here in the Midlands — I don’t know; I’ve never thought much about it. I know she talks to the media less than predecessors, which is probably why the press and broadcast types were dutifully lined up at the door waiting to catch her on her way out. (You’ll note on the video that she sort of promises to take questions from them later. I suppose she did. My ride left before that.)

I did have one small moment of epiphany during the Q and A, something that perhaps shed a light on why I don’t see things her way more often: “I’m a reality TV nut,” she said. Suddenly, a lot of stuff fell into place for me…

Seriously, though, I look forward to seeing what the reporters who were there get out of it.

35 thoughts on “Nikki Haley was at Rotary today, too

  1. Brad

    Sorry about that video. I don’t know why it hasn’t fully loaded yet.

    If it doesn’t show up in awhile, I’ll repeat the process. Sometimes things just hang up in YouTube for reasons I don’t understand…

  2. Brad

    Looks like it’s working now.

    It appears that Seanna Adcox of AP went with the same lede as Yvonne: “COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she will soon announce her “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” initiative to help meet communities’ needs and fulfill a campaign pledge. Haley said Monday details will be laid out within the month…”

    In other words, she didn’t find any news in the speech, either.

    There must not have been any bombshells in the media availability after…

  3. Steven Davis

    If you have trouble confronting a woman, just ask another woman to do it… women hate women.

  4. Mab

    Thanks to Nikki Haley, I think I officially need blood pressure medication.

    Kathryn – great questions! How do you keep your composure? I can hardly watch the video of her addressing her stolen constituency — the real citizens of South Carolina.

  5. Mab

    @ 1:20

    law enforcement – yes please, whatever tool will nab you [Nikki Haley] and the phantom governor

    infrastructure – yes, please

    mental health – fund the governors’ first, please

  6. Joanne

    Reality TV, huh? Yep. Another word in the crossword filled in…Maybe ETV needs to get into reality.

  7. `Kathryn Fenner


    I was pleased with her response, except that she never went there again–she wrapped up by repeating her “give it all back” mantra.

    Jon Keith’s question, also ever so polite, about what she reads, listens to and watches was excellent, and my niece picked up on her waffle-y answer–took her awhile to find her way–although she did a lot better than Sarah Palin.

    Guess what–she gets her news from Faux News!

  8. Debbie McDaniel

    I’m sorry but I would have gotten up and slapped her when she said education was something she’d focus on…….
    PS: you GO Kathryn!!!!

  9. Barry

    Great question indeed.

    I also find the comparison between government and what families do to be completely ludicrous.

    Families do two things when confronted with income problems

    1) They cut their spending.

    2) and if they are worth anything, they search hard for additional jobs or income opportunities to supplement the family income.

    They don’t just “cut spending.” That only solves half the problem.

    The electric company won’t accept “but we cut our spending” as payment for the electric bill.

  10. Andrew

    So how is what Haley’s proposing different from a myriad of other proposals, like the Family first initiative under the Beasley administration?

    Most churches I know are struggling to meet budget these days, as well.

  11. bud

    Government is most decidedly not, repeat NOT like either a business or a family. The dynamics are different. The reason for their existence are different. The funding, goals etc are just not the same at all. And hence to suggest that government be run like a business or family is both incorrect and perhaps even dangerous. Paul Krugman has this right. Government can and must spend money to reduce unemployment. This is not about belt tightening. How did the debate ever get framed in such an incorrect fashion?

  12. Brad

    Hey, I wouldn’t mind the government-family analogy so much if the people who cite it would THINK for two seconds about what families actually do when things are tight — and adjust their political views accordingly.

    It’s really kind of funny to imagine a Republican family of the libertarian variety losing a job or other source of income, and just sitting back and saying, “That’s OK; I don’t need to bring in any more money; I’ll just do without essentials and watch my family suffer. And I won’t send my kids to college, because it would be morally wrong and an offense against all I believe in for me to try to bring in the income to pay for it…”

  13. Brad

    I thought you were going to link me to Jim Hodges’ “Breakfast-Table Talks,” or whatever he called them.

    But that was back in pre-Web days, when the Democrats were still enough of a factor in SC to irritate me as much as the Republicans do now… You’d be hard-pressed to find a link to something that old…

  14. `Kathryn Fenner

    @Burl–I didn’t actually pose a real question, I think, but she did veer off her cut/cut/cut and for once talked about how we do need to shore up our crumbling infrastructure. The response to my comment was sufficiently noteworthy that The State printed it, unlike her typical rehash.

    I was trying to address her “what to do when money rains down from the money tree after the budget is set”– in a state like ours, the budget is always set on a shoestring and plenty of repair and maintenance gets deferred–which includes not only roads and bridges, but also human capital maintenance and repair–education, mental and physical health, spiritual health (the arts) and community well-being. For a start, we could adequately fund DSS.

  15. Doug Ross


    So in your family example, there would be no cutbacks on anything. It would all be about increasing revenue?

    That’s not what I would do.

    The issue is we still have sgnificant waste in government that could be redirected to higher priority items but it is not.

    A family with financial issues wouldn’t redirect a large chunk of money to build an empty 4 car garage (Innovista) or buy a new boat (Hunley) or pay to fix up a 100 year old shed in the backyard (750K to fix Woodrow Wilson’s house).

    All the money needed to do what a government should do is already there. There are just too many greedy career politicians making bad decisions.

  16. bud

    To extend the family analogy. What we’re facing is a government “family” that not only has lost a significant breadwinner but is also dealing with a severe emergency, like an illness or injury. Both could be the result of say a car crash. The remaining family members may have to get jobs to help out. Borrowing to pay for the injury, as well as groceries, would be of necessity. Cut backs would also be required.

    The federal government equivalent in 2011 would be a dramatic cut in non-essential projects, like the military, along with extra spending on “medical” treatment (the injury being high unemployment) like a jobs program of some sort. Revenue in the form of taxes would also be necessary. Kind of like hitting relatives up for a few bucks. The family analogy only applies when all the details are considered. And that just seems too much of a stretch to make it reasonable.

  17. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Doug– If a significant portion of my income derived from tourism, I most certainly would fix up the Hunley and the WW house, if the potential tourism income would offset it–it’s like if you are an actress or other person who needs to look good to make money: plastic surgery or a dermatologist are not luxuries.

    I might send someone to college, hoping they could make more money (Innovista), gambling that the economy would not tank and kill job prospects…speaking of which, I hear from the most excellent new marketing person that some deals are quite close to happening….

  18. Steven Davis

    Interesting twist on how to justify money spent on money losers.

    BTW – I bet the money on any new tenants in the Innovista were given lease rates that may equal the cost of paying the utilities and insurance on the property. But I doubt it. There’s enough commercial property in Columbia for rent that a new tenant isn’t going to move into the Innovista because of pretty new buildings, it’s going to be because the lease was cheaper than anywhere else.

  19. `Kathryn Fenner

    Look, you gotta have attractions if you want to *attract* tourists. Tourism is the major industry of SC–aside from the intrinsic value of saving historical artifacts….

    and your mindreading and fortunetelling abilities amaze me!

  20. Mark Stewart

    I understand saving the Monitor, as I would have the CSS Virginia (Merrimack). However, I have no idea why untold millions are being spent on the Hunley.

    If it hadn’t cost many people their lives, that boat would have been little more than an historical freak show. Really, we can find better, more important artifacts and tourism drivers to save than that iron barge.

    But then maybe the real problem is too many people seem to perversely identify the history and fortunes of the Hunley with those of our state. That’s a mindset which must be broken.

    Woodrow Wilson’s house ought to go on the block, too. It’s not central to his story, nor to ours as a State.

    I majored in Architectural History in college. So either someone is going to retract my degree for these statements, or else I’m right on them.

    I’m agreeing with Doug for different reasons. But he’s right.

  21. martin

    Wow, I see the Hunley as a leap forward in technology – not exactly the word I’m looking for – like the cotton gin or the assembly line and that makes it seem really historically important to me.

    And, I was over-impressed with “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” as a kid. Maybe, that’s my problem.

  22. Steven Davis

    Kathryn – So do you believe these prospective tenants will be paying above or even at the average square footage to move into the Innovista? Why would they do that if they can head 3-4 blocks north and move into less expensive property? The Innovista is in such a panic to get a tenant, any tenant, that they’re willing to get it leased regardless of how much they continue to lose. If you believe that any of these tenants will be profitable for the University, you’re sadly mistaken.

  23. `Kathryn Fenner

    Because location is a big deal–proximity to other “cross-pollinators” like similar tech companies, academics, student interns, etc.

    I don’t see any panic –nor do I see them throwing caution to the wind. They are proceeding with all due speed but with discretion. These are not stupid people.

    Your ability to read the future must be especially profitable for you–the stock market must be your oyster!

  24. Mark Stewart

    Wow, I think I’m going to take two whacks here.

    The Hunley: The Hunley was little more than a stealthy rowboat, or more like a duckblind. Then it used a pole “torpedo”; all in all not that different from the Greek rams of the Trojan Wars all those thousands of years ago. Yes, it was semi-submerged and made of iron (and human powered). It also killed nearly all who manned it and sank each time it went out. There was no technological leap forward as there was with the CSS Virginia – or even more so with the Monitor. THAT was the shape of the future. In fact, that ship’s concept is where the US Navy is headed over the coming decades, almost 200 years later. That’s relevance. Nothing followed the Hunley; it was a sideshow stunt. Yes, it sank a wooden sailing warship; but those ships’ days had come to an abrupt end by 1855 across the world anyway. The steam locomotive Best Friend is something from South Carolina of historical relevance. The Hunley seems to appeal to those who believe in The Lost Cause. I just see it’s preservation as yet more wayward defeatism.

    Innovista: USC will end up absorbing all of the space; I’m not sure why anyone would think otherwise. I commented once before that I think the USC Law School ought to be sited there. That would take care of USC’s two biggest headaches. At this point Innovista is all about salvage value…

  25. `Kathryn Fenner

    I don’t know how Innovista was financed, but there may be restrictions to be overcome before it can become more USC space. USC does need more, I am told.

    I do believe in Ann Marie Stieritz, who is marketing it–if it can be done, she can do it.

  26. bud

    Mark, I’m not sure I entirely agree about the Hunley. Just because it was a failure in it’s long-term goal of breaking the blockage we shouldn’t condemn it to the scrapheap of failed ideas. It was innovative in a number of ways. The apparatus that allowed it to submerege, the way it was propelled and it’s armament were crude forerunners of the USS Holland 30 years later.

    The human engine was based on the need for a power source that did not require a significant quantity of oxygen. Other sources of power were considered (electromagnetic, compressed air) and the Confederates would have upgraded had the war lasted longer. But they needed to start somewhere.
    Electric engines accomplished that task later but were not fully available to the CSA in 1864.

    The submersion technology, though crude, was very innovative for it’s time. It required human power to pump water in or out of balast tanks as needed. And it had a suplemental balast supply in the form of iron plates that could be released in an emergency.

    The spar torpedo was an early version of torpedo that did not have it’s own propulsion system but was in all other respects the same concept as torpedos used from WW1 on. It was designed to penetrate the hull beneath the water line thus sinking the enemy vessel.

    The fact that it succeeded, where other submarines had failed, speaks volumes for the effectiveness of this vessel, even though it was ultimately lost. And I think it does deserve it’s place in history. I don’t think the taxpayers should pay for it however.

  27. Brad

    The Hunley succeeded at sinking a U.S. Navy ship, and killing American sailors.

    It did what al Qaeda did with the USS Cole, only more successfully.

    Personally, I can’t get past that. We talk about the achievement, and I look at what was achieved, and am horrified that anyone takes pride in it. We didn’t develop a submarine and send it into successful action against the Nazis; this was done as an act of war against the United States.

    And don’t give me excuses about historical context. I was born in the middle of the 20th century. Neither I nor anyone else I’ve ever met ever lived within any historical context in which the existence of the Confederacy was in any way justifiable. People who are alive are supposed to KNOW BETTER than to take any pride or pleasure in any “accomplishments” of the CSA.

    And I’d sort of like my state leaders to get up to date with me, in terms of what they take pride in. Especially if they’re going to spend my bucks on it.

    It’s an interesting historical curiosity, a forerunner of what was to come — a sort of historical freak, really (the Confederate Submarine!?!?), which is a legitimate reasons for historians to be interested. And you can make a case for spending some resources on history — although maybe not when fundamental functions of government are going unfunded.

    But that’s not the way we’ve engaged it. We have, led by Glenn McConnell, celebrated it and revered it. And that’s what I find unacceptable.

  28. Mark Stewart


    I agree that the Hunley has a place in history; I just don’t believe it has merit as a preserved historical artifact. To me, it’s not a milestone achievement.

    Does anyone even know how much the State has spent, directly and indirectly, on its preservation? At some point all such whimsical detours simply become folly.

  29. `Kathryn Fenner

    Look–do we know whether or not anyone goes to see it? What are the attendance figures for the Hunley Museum? If it brings in tourists, it may have been worth it. If not, I’m not so sure SC $ should go towards it, when we have serious staffing shortage issues at DSS, DMH, DJJ…..

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