You need to be careful about your associations

This devil’s bargain that the GOP has made with the Tea Party since the GOP’s traumatic loss in 2008 — which seems to have driven the party half-mad with grief, and into the arms of the snake-flag crowd — just looks worse and worse. And not just from the perspective of UnPartisans like me. I would feel a lot worse about it were I a Republican. I mean a real one — of the Lincoln, Eisenhower, or Reagan variety.

Of course, the Democrats are eating it up; they think it’s great — the crazier their opponents get, the better they like it.

For the rest of us, watching these extremists drag down the GOP in the debt “debate,” and the GOP still clinging hard enough to drag the country and the world’s economy down with it, is pretty agonizing.

And if you’re a Republican, this has to be really uncomfortable. First, they helped people like Nikki Haley roll right over the actual conservatives like Henry McMaster (and Bob Inglis, and others).

And then, you have to watch stuff like this Kershaw County “when to shoot a cop” thing just getting worse and worse. It gets hard to disassociate yourself from a guy like Jeff Mattox, as much as you’d like to.

Last night, the picture above cropped up in two places — in an e-mail from the Democratic Party, and in a post by Will Folks. It purports to show Jeff Mattox, the Kershaw County GOP co-chair and member of Kershaw County Patriots (which, according to the Camden paper, he calls a Tea Party group) with you-know-who.

If you’re a mainstream Republican, you cringe in private at Nikki Haley being your governor, if you’re paying attention. Now you have to face the fact that all this anti-government stuff takes you to some pretty crazy places. It’s a matter of degrees, a series of steps.

  1. One step: Mere anti-government rhetoric, with a hint of menace. Gov. Haley likes to say people in government “are incredibly scared and it’s a beautiful thing.”
  2. Another step: This Mattox guy “likes” the cop-killing post, but says he doesn’t really want to kill cops: “No. It’s just kind of a conversation.” Eloquent defense, huh?
  3. Next step: “Basic logic dictates that you either have an obligation to LET ‘law enforcers’ have their way with you, or you have the right to STOP them from doing so, which will almost always require killing them.”

And then you have cops in Kershaw County going around wearing body armor.

It’s all connected. And it’s no wonder that Matt Moore and others over at party HQ are trying to cut themselves off from the more extreme end of the rope.

33 thoughts on “You need to be careful about your associations

  1. bud

    it’s no wonder that Matt Moore and others over at party HQ are trying to cut themselves off from the more extreme end of the rope.

    That leave a very short rope.

  2. Brad

    Anyone recognize that symbol on Mattox’ T-shirt? Looks like a hammer on an anvil.

    Actually, it sort of looks like and ax sticking an anvil, but that doesn’t make sense, does it? And yet, if it’s a hammer, how is it standing there like that? Is it magnetic?

  3. `Kathryn Fenner

    It’s an ax sticking into an ironing board–the symbol of wifebeaters everywhere!

  4. Sarah

    It is incredibly wrong – like in a journalistic malpractice kind of way – to post a random photo like this to use as some suggestion that Governor Haley and this Mattox guy are connected in any way. We get that you don’t like Haley, we get that you don’t like her politics or rhetoric. But how do you know that she knows Jeff Mattox from Adam? This doesn’t seem like a picture taken because Mattox was invited to the Governor’s Mansion to meet with Haley. Seems more like it was taken at a campaign rally. May not even have been a tea party rally but just a Haley stump speech. She would have no reason to know who this guy was and no reason to refuse him a picture which is pretty much like what all politicians take with people at their rallies.

  5. Brad

    Sarah, I don’t think for a moment that Nikki and this guy are close buddies. This does indeed look EXACTLY like the kind of thing a politician poses for dozens of times a day. And it wouldn’t occur to me that anyone would think it was anything else. That’s certainly what it looked like to me.

    So I think you’re overreacting a little.

    The point is, the picture was perfect for illustrating the point — I refer you to the headline — my Republican friends had really better start thinking better about who they’re hanging with, what sorts of rallies they attend, who they are associated with.

    Because, as I say, all this anti-government rhetoric puts you just a step or two away from the really seriously nutty. It essentially puts you in the same room with them — or at least, at the same campaign events.

    The problem isn’t that Nikki let this guy pose for a picture with her. The problem is that she goes around saying things, with a smile, like politicians “are incredibly scared and it’s a beautiful thing.”

    That does bother me.

  6. Brad

    I could show you pictures of Nikki posing with people at my Rotary, too. I think. I’d have to look through what I shot the other day, but I remember seeing her posing for a bunch of pictures like that when she spoke to us.

    But those pictures wouldn’t be terribly relevant to the point I’m making, would they?

  7. Steven Davis

    Like Kathryn knows anything about an ironing board.

    It’s an anvil and hammer… don’t know what it represents but likely not the stereotype Kathryn wishes.

  8. Brad

    Uh, Steven… Kathryn was JOKING about the ironing board thing.

    Guess you could call it an irony board in this case…

  9. Brad

    Sarah got me to thinking about those grip-and-grin pictures politicians do all the time. I can even dig up a couple of pictures like that of myself with politicos.

    Not many, though, because, you know, it’s uncool. And unprofessional. I have a picture like that of me with Joe Wilson in 2004 (Joe was just so excited to be at the Republican National Convention in New York that he was just posing for picture with everybody), and one with Obama in 2008. The Obama one was really an anomaly. The day we met with him, there were a number of observers who had asked to sit in and watch the meeting, and some of them starting getting their pictures taken with Obama. It was so goofy — so different from what one normally saw at such meetings — that I couldn’t resist posing, in a semi-ironic manner, for one myself (thereby horrifying my colleagues on the board, who would never do anything so uncool — but by that time I was corrupted by being a blogger, and prone to do unconventional things).

    Oh, I’ve also got this picture of Howard Baker and me when he was campaigning in the Iowa caucuses in 1980. But most of you youngsters won’t remember him. And it doesn’t really fit into the genre, because it’s a candid. It was the actual moment when I met Baker.

    Now that I’m not an editor anymore, I sort of regret having been so cool and “professional” all those other times. It would be nice to have the mementos. But then, I do have lots of pictures I’ve taken of famous politicos — I’m just not in them.

    Of course, I’ve taken a few pics of Nikki. I’m not in those…

  10. Sarah

    To your comment that I was overreacting to your use of that picture – well I guess that makes us even 🙂 Because I tend to think you overreact to Nikki Haley (and the tea party) to the point that you have NDS (Nikki Derangement Syndrome). You love to criticize her for saying elected officials “are incredibly scared and it’s a beautiful thing.” I seem to remember another politician saying something like “Government is not the solution to our problem government IS the problem”. Wow, talk about your anti-establishment fringe crazy! But I can tell you this conservative Republican loved Ronald Reagan – and I think your beloved Henry McMaster would be with me…

  11. Joanne

    Sarah, I’m in counseling for my NDS. I’m also taking an antibiotic for it.

    I admit that I can’t stand the woman.

    Brad, you’re excused.

  12. Brad

    The funny thing about that is, I get that a lot. Now.

    A couple of years ago, I got the same thing — “Brad has it in for Mark Sanford.”

    Before that, it was “Brad hates Jim Hodges.”

    Here’s the thing: I think it’s critically important that South Carolina have a good governor. When governors fall short — and in case you haven’t noticed, they keep doing that — I’m going to call them on it. I’m going to be direct about it, and I’m not going to let up as long as they keep falling short.

    Poor Nikki (although she wouldn’t think she was “poor Nikki”; she thinks she’s doing great) was predestined to fall short because she was so woefully unprepared and unqualified for this office. But that’s not my fault; I didn’t put her in this position. In fact, I begged her not to run, in the friendliest way. But she did it anyway.

  13. Burl Burlingame

    I’ve got a huggy picture like that of me and Katrina Leskanich. Jealous now?

    Politicians pose for this sort of thing all the time, even more so now that people have cameras in their cell phones.

  14. Steven Davis

    You challenge me to what??? That’s not even a real sentence.

    I think I saw that same picture on FitsNews a couple days ago.

  15. Steven Davis

    Okay, so Rowentas is an iron, an overpriced iron.

    Ironing shirts isn’t about speed, it’s about doing it right. If you can’t iron it right, I might as well do it myself.

  16. bud

    Critically important to have a good governor? It would be nice, but critically important? Nah. Doesn’t make a whole lot of difference really. Carrol Campbell was supposed to be a good governor and how exactly did his time in office improve the state? Not a whit.

  17. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ bud– BMW, other economically valuable companies, were persuaded to locate here, and lot of that was attributable to Campbell.

    @Steven– I <3 my Rowenta, and I iron a mean shirt. The sentence was a play on "I challenge you to pistols at 20 paces" or something like that....

  18. Abba

    This discussion of associations among politicians and others, together with the articles this week about the NAACP challenging Governor Haley on the Confederate flag reminded me of the several pieces Brad wrote about a year ago about then-Rep. Haley sitting down with the Sons of Confederate Veterans to talk about whether the flag should remain on our front lawn. She said then that “I’m the perfect person to deal with the [NAACP] boycott. Because, as a minority female, I’m going to go and talk to them and I’m going to go and let them know that every state has their traditions.” Brad’s pieces included links to a video of part of that interview as well as to a longer video, in both of which she seemed to be pandering to a group she could have chosen not to associate with. I was particularly put off by her characterization of the flag as a state “tradition” that she apparently thinks we should all want to keep.

  19. Steven Davis

    BMW and Boeing and Amazon were given great tax deals, just like Mack Truck (I think that was who was here for a short time). Let’s wait and see what happens when those tax breaks stop… like Mack Truck which pulled out the day after the breaks stopped, and exactly how Amazon handled their distribution center in Texas. These companies only care about one thing, the bottom line, they could care less who the governor of the state is at the time the contract is signed.

  20. Lauren

    “And if you’re a Republican, this has to be really uncomfortable. First, they helped people like Nikki Haley roll right over the actual conservatives like Henry McMaster (and Bob Inglis, and others).”

    OK…can you PLEASE explain how it is that Henry McMaster and Bob Inglis are more conservative than Nikki Haley? Do you even know Bob Inglis’ record?

  21. Brad

    Yes, I know Bob Inglis’ record. Do you?

    Here’s the way I will always think of Bob Inglis… the guy came out of nowhere to beat incumbent Liz Patterson. Not having seen this coming at all, political prognosticators used such excuses as “He cheated — he campaigned through churches and stuff (which definitely put him under the radar in those days).” He was on the leading edge of both the GOP wave that broke on Congress fully two years later (as big a deal, if you’ll recall, as the Tea Party wave last year — if not bigger, because they elected one of their own as speaker), as well as being in the vanguard of religious conservatives who surged to power in SC, also in 94, behind David Beasley (which really, really upset the old country-club crowd in the party).

    He was an arch-conservative, fiscally and culturally, before it was cool. He still is what he was then. People who think he is NOT are only looking at him superficially, based on a few votes in which he THOUGHT FOR HIMSELF rather than voting like a sheep along with his party. For instance, there was his vote against the “surge” in Iraq. I believe — no, I know — that Bob was wrong about that. But it’s patently ridiculous to call that anything but the vote of a conservative. Refusing to up the ante in Iraq at that time WAS the conservative move, even though it meant voting with the nominal “liberals.” It was just wrong.

    My first memory of really taking notice of what a principled conservative Bob was, and is, was shortly after his shocking election back in the early 90s. He was always saying he thought the federal government spent too much money, and he was going to be against it. Big deal, right? Lots of people said that.

    But Bob then turned around and voted AGAINST federal highway money for South Carolina. I’d never seen anybody do anything like that before. Rhetoric was one thing, but vote against highway money for your own constituents? Unheard of at the time. (Now the woods are full of people who would do that, but not then.)

    I went, “Whoa! This guy MEANS it…” And he did. And he does. And people who would vote against him for not being “conservative” lack understanding of him, and of what the word means.

  22. bud

    For instance, there was his vote against the “surge” in Iraq. I believe — no, I know — that Bob was wrong about that.

    I know that is just an aside to make a point but it’s EXTREMELY annoying to me which I’m sure you know. So Prove it (that Bob’s vote was wrong). Believing something doesn’t require anything more than gut instinct. Knowing requires a very high standard of proof. Unless you can then you need to stick with “believe”.

  23. Brad

    It shouldn’t be necessary to explain that aside, but I will. Of course, it won’t be satisfactory to you.

    Before the surge, I believed he was wrong. After the surge worked as advertised, I knew it.

    I know you like to deny that. But the truth is, it worked beyond my expectations. I remember thinking that it would never have a sufficiently dramatic effect by the time Petraeus had to go before Congress to give an update. I figured that by that time, the success of it would not be enough to satisfy the people who wanted it to fail, and wanted to shut it down. But it WAS enough. By the time he made that appearance, the consensus was that it was a rather resounding success.

    But I know you don’t agree with the consensus.

  24. bud

    What consensus? And besides consensus is not proof. The two are different. Knowing requires proof. Just throwing out the word consensus is not proof. I could just as easily say I KNOW it failed since we’re still in Iraq. Words may be sufficient to a journalist but not to a statistician.

  25. bud

    Bad stuff still goes on in Iraq. The U.S. media is pre-occupied with other events but we can still see how violent the place is, 8 years after we began military operations there, by checking out other news organizations. We should never forget the folly of these foreign military adventures. Thanks to Brad I am once again reminded of just what a disaster that was and still is.

    From Reuters:

    Suicide bombers kill 15 Iraqis in Tikrit
    By Bill RoggioJuly 28, 2011

    A pair of suicide bombers, presumably from al Qaeda in Iraq, carried out a complex attack against Iraqi troops in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. The first suicide bomber detonated amongst a crowd of Iraqi policemen and soldiers waiting to get their paychecks, and the second bomber struck as rescue teams aided those wounded in the initial attack.

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