Normally, I don’t go in for the big stage props in politics. I still recall the time, in a barn at the agricultural experiment station outside Jackson, TN, in the late ’70s (or was it early ’80s?), when some national political figure stood to make a speech in front of two symmetrically-stacked ziggurats of hay and a tractor. I also remember how hot it was, and how the runnels of sweat rolled off the beautiful young network camerawoman standing on a platform just above me, her thin garments saturated and clinging to her…
But that’s beside the point. The point is that I don’t usually go in for the big, fakey stage props in politics. I thought the hay and the tractor were kinda cheesy. It was the first of many experiences I would have with such cheesiness.
That said, Vincent Sheheen has little choice now. He must find a really, really big South Carolina state flag and launch his campaign standing in front of it. The opening handed him by his opponent is just too inviting.
With her announcement yesterday, Nikki Haley made it clear that if you thought she was running a cookie-cutter, national, ideological campaign with no bearing upon South Carolina at all back in 2010, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
First, she stands in front of a U.S. flag that must have been bought second-hand from the people who filmed “Patton.” (The State said it was “tennis court-sized.” I think maybe they were playing doubles.) Then, she stood not with South Carolinians, not with people who have anything at all to say about South Carolina or who care a fig about South Carolina, but with Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas and Scott Walker of Wisconsin (which the New York Daily News calls her “blue-shirted band of merry men.”)
Oh, wait, Tim Scott was there — you know, the guy she elevated to the Senate, and who therefore owes her big-time.
The other governors were there to back her up as she said things such as this:
“When it came to Obamacare, we didn’t just say ‘no.’ We said ‘never.’ We are not expanding Medicaid just because President Obama thinks we should.”
Because, you know, that’s what it’s all about — fighting the big, national ideological fight. By the way, to fully understand that second sentence, you put a comma after Medicaid. Because the reason she’s saying “no” to expanding Medicaid is, of course, “just because President Obama thinks we should.”
Maybe the governor should talk with her former employers over at Lexington Medical Center about the jobs that will be lost there because of her standing in the way of Medicaid expansion. Not to mention the impact on South Carolinians’ health. But she’s not going to do that, and not only because she didn’t leave her old job under the best of terms. She’s not going to do that because she doesn’t care about the impact on South Carolina. It’s all about the national, ideological fight.
Which is something that Vincent Sheheen should seize on as a way to contrast himself to the current governor. He’s done that already, of course. He just needs to drive the point home a bit more firmly.
The big SC flag would be a good start. Not necessarily tennis court-sized. Just big enough to make the point — tastefully, which would be a nice change in and of itself.