Category Archives: 2010 Governor

A look back: Henry’s 2010 interview with the pro-flag guys


Remember the squirm-inducing video of Nikki Haley being interviewed by some pro-Confederate flag guys back in 2010? Remember how she meekly gave them the reassurances they sought, while looking like a hostage forced to say these things?

Something caused me to look back at that (I think it was a comment on this blog, but it may have been on an old post, because I’m not finding it now), and to note that Henry McMaster, too, was interviewed by the same guys at the time.

“These guys,” by the way, were a group that redundantly called themselves “South Carolina Palmetto Patriots,” and said this about their agenda on their now-defunct website:

The Federal government has stolen our liberties and rights and nullified our ability to self govern as a state. It is the obligation of all people of our great state to restore unto ourselves and our children these inalienable rights as set forth in The Constitution of the United States of America.

As I noted at the time, that was their 2010 agenda and not their 1860 agenda, but I can see how you might have been confused.

I’d show you more, but the URL they were using then takes you to a page that shows a picture of a hat rack and the words, “This site has stepped out for a bit.”

Yeah, no kidding.

Back to the McMaster videos: There are six clips of about 10 minutes each, and there are commonalities with the Haley clips. For one thing, Henry sometimes looked very wary of these guys and their questions, as I think you can see in the still above. Or maybe that’s just me; I share the image so you can decide yourself.

He doesn’t seem to be having a rollicking good time. Still, he gives them the answers they seek, promptly and perfunctorily, as they tick off their list of traits that make an acceptable person in their book.

In the first clip, he starts out with a recitation of the 10th Amendment’s limitations on the federal government, which seemed welcome to these (as we learn later) latter-day nullificationists. At times, it takes on the cadences of the Catholic baptismal rite — if you’re a Protestant, you’ve heard it in “The Godfather:”

Do you reject Satan?
I do.
And all his works?
I do.
And all his empty promises?
I do.

Only on this video, it’s:

Have you read the constitution of the state of South Carolina?


Do you believe we should be governed by this document?


On that second “yes,” Henry seems a bit impatient. Of course, it is an idiotic and insulting question to ask an officer of the court, but you get that sort of thing from the kinds of extremists who believe that they are the only ones who understand what the constitution in question truly means.


Do you think it is better to have the government spending money to improve the economy or have tax cuts to improve the economy?

Tax cuts. I don’t think there’s any question about that.

Do you think we should amend our state constitution to include the right of petition and recall by the people…?


Are you a Christian? What is your current church membership?

Yes. First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina; I’ve been there my whole life.

After that last, there is a pause, and the questioner explains, “Some of these questions are designed for other candidates…,” because, as he notes twice, he had known Henry was a Christian.

Which candidates might those be?, one wonders…

Eventually, after Henry makes it clear that he adamantly disapproves of illegal immigration, they get down to the nitty-gritty, at 8:10 in the clip:

Do you support keeping the Confederate Battle Flag in its current location…?


At that point, the questioner turns things over to “Bob,” who possesses an accent that gives Henry’s a good run for its money. The grilling on this subject continues to the end of the first clip, and all the way to 5:16 on the second one — after which “Bob” moves on to nullification.

When I listened to all this this morning, I typed up Henry’s answers in some detail — and my PC crashed before I could save it. Suffice to say, he further assured them that the flag flying on the State House grounds was a settled matter. Everyone had had their say during the debate before the “compromise,” and that was that.

Of course, he now says that the removal of the flag is a settled matter (if I read it correctly), so let’s give him credit for that.

I confess I didn’t spend an hour listening to all six clips. Do so, if you’re so inclined, and share with us what you find. I just found it interesting to revisit, however briefly. I’ll leave you with this: As marginal as these guys might have seemed in 2010, the video seems almost quaint today — after Charlottesville. And at the same time chilling, after Mother Emanuel…

Sheheen named as one of 12 to watch nationally

Vincent Sheheen in 2010 with his dad, Fred, and the last Democratic candidate for governor to do better than he did.

Vincent Sheheen in 2010 with his dad, Fred, and the last Democratic candidate for governor to do better than he did.

I was shocked, shocked, to see that Governing magazine named Sen. Vincent Sheheen one of its 12 legislators to watch in 2012:

Sen. Vincent Sheheen exceeded all expectations in his 2010 race for governor. Running in a strongly Republican state in a strongly Republican year, he lost to Nikki Haley — who attracted considerable national media attention — by just four percentage points. An effective legislator, he had sponsored 18 bills that became state law prior to his gubernatorial campaign.

Sheheen, whose father was a state education commissioner, served as a city prosecutor and a state representative before winning election to the Senate in 2004. “Sheheen represents the pragmatic tradition of South Carolina found in dynamic leaders such as former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings and former U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley,” says Andy Brack, publisher and columnist of

He is widely expected to run again for higher office. “Sheheen remains a public critic of Gov. Haley, which may help explain her rather extensive out-of-state fundraising during her first year in office,” says Jack Bass, a College of Charleston political scientist.

Why was I shocked? Because I thought it was some sort of physical law of the universe that national media were incapable of acknowledging Vincent’s existence.

Over and over, we heard (and still hear) about the terribly exciting miracle of the Indian-American woman who won the GOP nomination in our state, and then went on to be elected by the skin of her teeth, garnering a small percentage of the vote than any other statewide Republican in a huge year for Republicans.

Not once did I see even a hint of that sort of interest in the first Lebanese-American Catholic nominee in state history — who did better than any Democrat since Jim Hodges won, by hitching his star to a state lottery, in 1998.

Until now.

The alternative reality governor

On an alternative Earth, with an alternative history, this is what we would be hearing from our governor as school started back. I got this from Vincent Sheheen earlier today:

This month Joseph, Austin, and Anthony went back to Camden High and Camden Elementary for the 2011-12 school year. We can’t believe we have two 15 year olds with their driving permits!

We are so blessed for our sons to attend the same schools as their father, grandfather and great-grandfather. South Carolina’s public schools have helped give our family the opportunity to succeed!

We are proud of our schools and thankful for the great teachers who care so much about our children. And we are proud to stand up to the extremist agenda that wants to take public dollars out of our schools and send them to private schools. Like Thomas Jefferson, we believe that a democratic nation cannot exist without a public commitment to education.
Thank you to all the teachers who have blessed our lives and the lives of our children- especially Rose Sheheen (Now better known as Mommia!)

So, join us in thanking a teacher- your child’s or grandchild’s or a teacher you know. Let them know how thankful you are for what they give.

All the best,  Amy and Vincent Sheheen

Alternative reality — that’s the ticket! Where’s Harry Turtledove when we need him? Outside of his kind of world, there’s little hope for South Carolina in the foreseeable future. No, he couldn’t actually change reality, but we could pretend for a while…

God bless U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs

I say that because her ruling kept me, and the other sensible folk who refuse to surrender their ability to think to a party, from being disenfranchised by the SC Republican Party:

A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit by Republicans Wednesday who wanted South Carolina to begin requiring voters to register with a party before voting in a primary.

If Republicans don’t want outsiders to help choose their nominees, they have other options, like picking candidates at a party convention or filling out petitions to get them on the ballot, U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs ruled.

The decision reverberates nationally.

South Carolina’s first-in-the-South Republican presidential primary, which has been won by the party’s eventual nominee in each election since 1980, is open to any registered voter in the state, forcing candidates to moderate their message to a wider audience. The Democratic contest is also open.

“It’s a great day for independents. It’s a great day for all voters in South Carolina,” said lawyer Harry Kresky, who argued the case for “The primary confirms a great deal of legitimacy on a candidate.” joined with the state, Tea Party members and black lawmakers in fighting the lawsuit…

Not that all is right with the world. We’re still forced to choose one primary or the other. There is no way I, who live in the most Republican county in South Carolina, where the GOP primary IS the election for most offices, should have been disenfranchised — prevented from having ANY say in local or legislative races — because I chose a Democratic ballot to vote for Vincent Sheheen last June.

But moving to the Louisiana system, as wonderful as that would be, is another battle for another day. For now, I’ll take satisfaction from the fact that the judge prevented the SC Republican Party from further eroding my right to vote for whomever I like.

Nikki Haley dumps Darla Moore: A plain case of old-fashioned naked patronage

It’s really hard to keep up with all the petty outrages (both “petty” and “outrageous” — yes, that seems about right) that our new young governor keeps pumping out.

I’m a busy guy — working, blogging, trying to grab a little sleep at night — and sometimes find myself momentarily out of the loop. Particularly when there are so many far more important things going on in the world. Let’s see, the Japan earthquake, Qaddafi (I’ve gotten to where I just spell his name with the first combination of letters that my fingers hit, so I hope that suits) moving to crush the rebellion while the world is distracted with Japan, Saudis intervening in Bahrain and people getting killed… And sometimes you have to put even that aside, and do other stuff…

So when I finish my Virtual Front Page and close the laptop, I sometimes don’t see any new developments until 7ish the next morning. Which is why I was taken aback at the very first Tweet I saw this morning:

Nettie Britts @nettie_bNettie Britts

Explain Darla Moore to me.

I replied, “Well, she’s this rich lady from South Carolina who tries to give back to her home state. That’s the Twitter version, I guess…” And I went on to breakfast. There, the grill room at the Capital City Club was buzzing with what I didn’t know about, since I hadn’t sat down to read the paper yet (don’t ask me why it wasn’t on when I was doing the Virtual Front Page yesterday; maybe it was and I just missed it). The state and community leaders weren’t going, “Did you hear about Darla?” It was more like, “What do you think of the news?” Period.

Yep, this stuff happens to me, too. Not often, but sometimes.

So I sat down, and I read the paper. And I Tweeted this out:

Brad Warthen

@BradWarthen Brad Warthen

Nikki Haley dumping Darla Moore is classic case of naked, arbitrary exercise of patronage power….

You can congratulate me later for having gotten a link, an editorial point, “Nikki Haley,” “Darla Moore,” and “naked” into the Twitter format (with 14 characters of room left!). Let’s move on to the substance.

And the substance is… well, what I just said. It just doesn’t get any more blatant, plain, slap-in-the-face, I-don’t-care-what-you’ve-done-for-our-state-or-this-institution-I’ve-got-my-own-guy than this. Just bald, plain, take-it-for-what-it-is. Although I do have to hand it to Haley staffer Rob Godfrey for managing to twist the knife a bit with this bit of sarcastic insouciance:

Asked why the appointment was not announced, he said: “Given that there are over 1,000 appointments to boards and commissions the governor can make, we never intended to have a press conference for each one.”

Because, you know, Darla Moore isn’t any more important than that.

At the Cap City Club this morning, one of the regular movers and shakers made a rather naive and innocent remark (sometimes movers and shakers can surprise you that way), honestly asking, “How do you just brush aside someone who’s given $100 million to South Carolina?” (Yeah, I know she’s only pledged $70 million to USC and $10 million to Clemson, according to the story, but I guess he was rounding.)

I replied, patiently, here’s what Nikki Haley would say to that (were she brutally honest, of course): “She didn’t give ME a hundred million dollars. Tommy over here gave me $3,500. I don’t understand the question.” That’s Tommy Cofield, by the way, a Lexington attorney.

People who are not movers and shakers (and who in fact have a sort of visceral aversion to movers and shakers) can say some naive things, too. Over in a previous comment, our own Doug said “Are we assuming that Sheheen wouldn’t have replaced anyone he didn’t like?”

To that, I responded once again with the painfully obvious: “No, Vincent would not have replaced Darla Moore with an unknown, minor campaign contributor in such a prestigious post. If that’s what you’re asking.” Of course, I should have added, “without a reason.” By that, I would mean a valid reason, one that takes South Carolina’s and USC’s legitimate interests into account, one that is not just arbitrary.

Oh she GAVE what I suppose some folks (probably including Doug, believing as he does that there is nothing so deleterious to society as experience and commitment to the public weal) will regard as a reason: “As is the case with many of our appointees, the governor looked for a fresh set of eyes to put in a critical leadership position…”

That’s it.

And if you are one of the people who takes Nikki Haley at face value, as her supporters tend to do, and you don’t know or care about Darla Moore or the University of South Carolina — you just like to cheer on your Nikki — that will suffice. In with the new, out with the old. She will feel in no way obligated to explain what was wrong with Darla Moore’s service on the board, or to cite any of the exciting new ideas that her appointee brings to the table that were previously missing. No one will expect that of her; it probably wouldn’t even occur to her to think about it. The governor will skate on this with these people — this is something that is core to her whole approach to politics ever since she transformed herself into the darling of the Tea Party in preparation for her run for this office for which she was so unprepared.

This WORKS for her. She skates on this, just as — with the voters she cares about — she will skate on apparently having told a prospective employer in 2007 that she was making $125,000 a year when she was telling the IRS that she made $22,000. This will matter not. People are just picking at her. The nasty, powerful, status quo people — those people who hang out at the Capital City Club! — are picking at Nikki because they’re mean, you see. (By the way, on the “petty” vs. “outrageous” spectrum, the thing on the job application is more the typical “petty” violation of her alleged principles that we have come to expect; the Darla Moore thing, dealing as it does with the leadership of such an important state institution, is more of an “outrage.” If you’re keeping score.)

She will not only skate, but her supporters — or at least, this is what the governor banks on — will continue, in spite of all evidence, to see her as a champion of transparency, a reformer, a nemesis of “politics as usual” and patron saint of Good Government. Which just, you know, boggles the mind if you’re the sensible sort who thinks about things.

That’s the plan, anyway. And that’s why she did this, and really doesn’t care if you, or the university, or the business community, or Darla Moore don’t like it.

But really, what DO you say?

Trav Robertson, as we saw him during the 2010 campaign.

Still sort of reeling from this discombobulation called Daylight Savings, and having had three glasses of sweet tea with my lunch at Seawell’s — to no noticeably helpful effect — I decided to do a wide swing through Five Points to get some REAL caffeine at Starbucks on my way back to the office.

So I got my tall Pike, and once again impressed the baristas with my fancy gift card from across the sea (thanks, Mr. Darcy!), and on my way out ran into Trav Robertson, whom I hadn’t seen since the election. Trav, if you’ll recall, managed Vincent Sheheen’s almost, but not quite, campaign for governor last year.

We chatted for a moment, mainly about the state of news media today and how it relates to politics (he said one of the toughest things he found to adjust to in the campaign was this newfangled notion that the story changes at least four times in the course of what we once so quaintly called a “news cycle”), and we parted, and as I walked back toward my truck, who was coming up the steps from Saluda but Larry Marchant. He smiled and we shook hands, and turning back to see Trav standing at the coffee shop door, I said, “Well, here’s you, and here’s Trav Robertson — we’ve just got everybody here, Democrats and Republicans…” as I moved on toward my vehicle.

Which is a pretty stupid and meaningless thing to say, but what DOES one say in such a social situation? I mean, I’m not gonna say, “Well, lookee here, we’ve got Trav, whose candidate lost a close election to a woman you claimed to the world to have slept with, and I last saw you being made fun of by Jon Stewart….”

No, I don’t think so.

And really, I suppose it’s not all that cool to say it here on the blog, either, but… it seems to me there’s a social commentary in here somewhere, having to do with Moynihan’s concept of Defining Deviance Down or whatever. And when I say “deviance,” I’m not picking on Larry or anybody else, but talking about us, the people who are the consumers of such “news.”

I mean, how does one conduct himself in polite society — or any society — in which such things are discussed, disclosed, dissected and displayed publicly? Actually, “publicly” isn’t quite the word, is it? Doesn’t quite state the case. Way more intense than that.

If you’re Jon Stewart, life is simple. You make a tasteless joke or two, get your audience to laugh, and move on to the next gag. But what do you say if you’re just a regular person out here in the real world, and you run into the real people about whom these jokes are made?

Whatever the right thing is, I haven’t figured it out, so today I just fell back on the time-honored stratagem of ignoring any weirdness inherent in the situation, and saying something insipid. Which, in this polite state of ours, still works.

As for Trav and Larry — did they speak after I left? Do they even know each other? If they spoke, what did they speak about? I have no idea. I retreated to the office with my coffee.

Larry Marchant, as we saw him during the 2010 campaign.

Just to say something you don’t hear all that often

The quixotic demonstration at the State House yesterday by citizens sick of seeing our state’s infrastructure rapidly eroding under the stewardship of shortsighted politicians was of course an exercise in futility.

But I’m no stranger to that. A few minutes ago, looking for a link for a previous post that needed one, I went back to the last week of posts on my old blog I had at the paper, and ran across this forgotten item — which, as it happens, was day after the post in which I announced that I had been laid off:

Good job rejecting the tuition caps

This might sound strange coming from a guy who was already counting pennies (or quarters, anyway — I miscounted how many I had this morning in my truck, and ended up with a parking ticket because I didn’t have enough for the meter), with my two youngest daughters still in college. And now I’m about to be unemployed.

But I’m glad the House rejected tuition caps at S.C. colleges and universities. I have an anecdote to share about that.

Remember the recent day when college students wandered the State House lobbying lawmakers on behalf of their institutions. They wanted the state to invest in higher education the way North Carolina and Georgia have. Either that day, or the day after, I had lunch with Clemson President James Barker, and he told me an anecdote he had witnessed: He said the students were pressing a lawmaker NOT to support the tuition caps, because they were worried about their institutions being even more underfunded — they hardly get anything from the state — some are down below 20 percent funding by the state, and the rest has to come from such sources as tuition, federal research grants and private gifts. Eliminate the ability to raise tuition, and the institution’s ability to provide an excellent education is significantly curtailed. If we want lower tuitions, the state should go back to funding higher percentages of the schools’ budgets, the way our neighboring states with better higher ed systems do.

The lawmaker listened to the kids, and then said with great condescension, maybe you kids don’t care if tuition goes up, but I’ll bet your parents would like a cap. He thought he had them there, but the kids set him straight: None of their parents were paying the bills. These kids were working their way through schools and paying for it all themselves. And they didn’t want to see the quality of what they were working so hard to pay for be degraded by an artificial cap on tuition. The lawmaker had not counted on getting that answer.

I wish I had been there to see it, because I’ve been in a similar place before. Back in 95 or 96, Speaker Wilkins had brought his committee chairs to see us, and I started challenging the wisdom of their massive rollback of property taxes paid for school.One of them allowed as how he bet I was glad to get that couple of hundred dollars I didn’t have to pay. And I answered him that I was ashamed that I was paying so little through my property tax to support schools that I knew needed more resources. He said smugly that he was sure I wouldn’t want to give it back. I told him I didn’t see as how there was any channel for doing that, but if he could point me to the right person who would take my money and see it gets to the right place, I would pay the difference. He didn’t have a good answer for that.

It would be great if our lawmakers would stop assuming that all of us in South Carolina are so greedily shortsighted that we can’t see past our personal desire to pay less money, and that we are corruptible by a scheme to starve colleges of reasonable support.

Reading that now, with all that’s happened since — the rise of the Tea Party, the eagerness of Republicans, demoralized after their 2008 defeat, to embrace destructive extremism (and of course, what happens to the Republican Party as happens to South Carolina, which it dominates), the election of Nikki Haley over more experienced, less extreme candidates of both parties — it reads like thoughts from another century. And, of course, another place.

Imagine, even dreaming of our state caring enough about education to invest in it the way our neighboring states have, much less suggesting that we do so. How anachronistic can one get? All that’s happened since then is that South Carolina has run, faster every day, in the opposite direction — with out elected leaders firmly convinced that that is not only the right direction in which to run, but the only one.

“Again, get excited” (if you can): the Haley senior staff announcement

I missed the announcement of Nikki Haley’s new senior staff yesterday, but I went looking for it after a friend (NOT a professional political observer, but a communications pro) at lunch today mentioned how… lackluster the announcement was. My friend said it really looked like Nikki was saying, “Well, since I went and won the election, I guess we have to do these things…”

This struck me because it sounded so much like my impression of Nikki’s low-energy victory speech on election night. Like it’s all sort of a letdown to her, compared to the frisson of campaigning. I’m finding it a bit hard to reconcile campaigning Nikki and soon-to-be-governor Nikki, in terms of enthusiasm. But maybe I’m just being a sexist pig who expects women to be bubbly all the time, right? Yeah, that’s probably it.

Anyway, enough about style over substance. My concern is not whether Nikki is enjoying the job so far, but what happens after she takes office. Let’s take a quick look at the staff she announced (all of whom seemed about as excited as she did, by the way — not particularly enjoying each other’s company, like they’re afraid they might accidentally touch each other or something…. no, I wasn’t going to talk style anymore…). Let’s break it down this way: Here’s Nikki’s press release, and here’s some minimal commentary from me:

Tim Pearson, Chief of Staff. Well, Nikki really damned him with faint praise: “He not only comes from The Hill…” say WHAT!?!? That’s supposed to be a recommendation? “… but also has presidential campaign and gubernatorial experience and he’s getting ready to do great things for our state…” a state which, far as we know, he knows nothing about. Look, I’ve done no more than exchange an e-mail or two with Pearson, and shake hands when I ran into him with Nikki at a restaurant, and he seemed OK. But with such an inexperienced governor, the idea of a guy who’s not from here and has limited knowledge of our state, its politics or its government being her chief of staff is not reassuring. What she needs is what Mark Sanford had the wisdom to hire at the start of his administration — Fred Carter. Fred didn’t last long, but he was exactly what Sanford needed. And what Nikki needs, too. Worst way to paint this? The way an ex-colleague did in an e-mail today: Kevin Geddings. Yeah, the guy who who led the governor’s winning campaign, but had little else to recommend him. Here’s hoping Tim Pearson will be WAY better than that.

Katherine Haltiwanger, Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations). Can’t say I know her. Know some very nice people named Haltiwanger. Maybe she’s related.

Ted Pitts, Deputy Chief of Staff (Policy and Cabinet Affairs). Great choice! And I’m glad to know Ted’s back OK from Afghanistan. If you’ll recall, Ted is MY representative. I briefly thought about making a run at the seat on the UnParty ticket when I heard he wasn’t running again. But I let Rick Quinn have it instead.

Trey Walker, Deputy Chief of Staff (Legislative Affairs and Communications). Another good choice — in fact, I’ll go so far as to say that if merit guided the gov-elect, Trey would be the guy in the top job. But I guess that since Trey — who ran Attorney General Henry McMaster’s office — didn’t join her until after the primary, Pearson was just in line way in front of him. Aside from actually knowing South Carolina, Trey also has the kind of experience Nikki seems to value most — helping run a national presidential campaign (McCain’s).

Swati Patel, Chief Legal Counsel. Don’t really know her, but she’s got relevant experience.

Rob Godfrey, Press Secretary. Another veteran like Trey, although I have to say that Rob’s been a bit — testy — this past year, as evidenced by this and this. Maybe he’ll settle down. Or maybe we’ll have a Ron Ziegler situation on our hands. We’ll see.

Taylor Hall, Cabinet Liaison. Don’t know him. I’m impressed that “Hall also worked at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, where he dealt with Transatlantic and European security issues,” although I’m not sure how it’s relevant. Maybe Nikki plans on raiding the EU for her Cabinet. Watch out, Brussels!

Rebecca Schimsa, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff. I know a lot of very young people, but I don’t know Rebecca. (Or do I? If so, I apologize.) Oh, and note that a few years ago I was grumbling about Ted Pitts seeming too young, so consider the source.

Jamie Shuster, Director of Budget and Policy. Don’t really know her, but I know the South Carolina Policy Council. That reminds me. I was supposed to set up lunch with Ashley Landess. Y’all don’t let me forget that…

Katherine Veldran, Legislative Liaison. This is the one, I suppose, that that same ex-colleague mentioned above referred to thusly: “the chick who’s going to be working with the Legislature whose experience is working for a Hilton Head hotel. Huh?” I don’t know what that’s about, either. Perhaps she’ll lecture lawmakers on the inherent superiority of the private sector. We’ll see.

Karen had a slightly different reaction

What was your reaction to this headline when it led the paper the other day — “Haley confronts Obama on health care”?

Yeah, me too. Cringe City. Like, Please don’t tell me she identified herself as being from South Carolina. I mean, think about it: The closest thing to a qualification that Nikki possesses on this issue is a stint as fund-raiser for a hospital, which didn’t work out so well. But now the Leader of the Free World is expected to sit still and be lectured by her on the subject.

OK, so the president invited her to. That doesn’t make me feel much better about her wasting the opportunity by going to bat for a national GOP priority.

Yeah, I know she was elected chiefly by pushing these national-issue hot buttons, and not for anything central to being governor. And that’s my problem with this. That’s what produces the cringe factor. The last thing we needed was another governor who was more interested in playing to a national audience than governing South Carolina, and look what we got.

But hey, that’s what we’ve got, so I wasn’t going to say anything. Y’all have heard all that before.

At least, I wasn’t until I got this e-mail from Karen Floyd over the weekend:

Dear Subscriber

Recently, Governor-elect Nikki made a trip up to Washington DC to speak with President Obama about the highly contentious health care legislation. We are so proud to have our next governor aggressively represent the views of so many Americans.
Below is an article about the event that appeared in the Rock Hill Herald [the same McClatchy piece that was in The State, linked above]. Please take the time to read it and let us know what you think by visiting our Facebook page!
Karen Floyd
SCGOP Chairman

So proud, huh? I’m beginning to suspect that Karen and I look at things somewhat differently…

Oh, and by the way — I realize that this is just business to people like Nikki and Karen, this constant sniping at the president’s attempt (however flawed) to deal with the health care crisis in this country. They just use it to yank the chains of susceptible people, and get them to vote the way they want them to.

But if this foolishness actually leads to the federal government letting South Carolina opt out of health care reform, as Obama reportedly indicated to Nikki, well then I am going to take this personally. It may be just partisan politics business, but I’m going to take it very personally.

OK, now I’m going to switch directions on you… I hope this doesn’t give you whiplash…

Nikki did something else at that meeting that I’m very proud she did: Confront the president on Yucca Mountain. That actually is a very important issue to South Carolina, and one that the president has taken an indefensible position on, thanks to Harry Reid. Anything Nikki does to get the president’s attention on that short of slapping him upside the head is OK with me. You go, girl.

And to change my tune still further… I was just about to post this when I had a phone conversation with a thoughtful friend who said, you’ve got to read The Greenville News version of the Haley/Obama interaction. The tone was a bit different. In fact, it had this bit:

Haley insisted that she is more interested in a “conversation” with the White House over areas of disagreement than “confrontation.”

That’s nice, but not quite enough to make me do an Emily Litella. I still don’t want my governor posturing on national controversies, and Karen Floyd does. Therein lies the difference.

My lame routine at Rotary today

On Friday, I got the call asking me to fill in at today’s Rotary meeting with Health & Happiness — which as you may recall means coming up with jokes.

I stressed about it all weekend, because with me, the members expect topical, original material — and I just hadn’t seen much to laugh about recently.

But I had to come up with something, so here’s what I came up with:

As y’all know, I generally try, in my own poor way, to offer y’all a little humorous commentary on the passing parade of current events.

I prefer doing that to falling back on the tried and true method of googling “clean jokes” on the Internet. Since I AM a writer, that just always feels like sort of a copout.

But folks, we are suffering a severe shortage of current events humor, particularly in the political arena. You may not have noticed, because it struck quite suddenly. We were enjoying a huge political comedy bubble in this state, but recently the bubble burst.

So it is that after the recent election, from my point of view, there’s not much to laugh about in the news.

There was a lot of stuff that was ALMOST funny, but it generally fell short of the mark. For instance:

  • There was good news and bad news in the U.S. House elections. The good news is that the hapless Democrats are no longer in charge. The bad news is that the Republicans ARE going be in charge. We, the people, just can’t win, and it’s not a bit funny.
  • Being a guy who gets his news via the written word, I thought for a brief time that there was some comic possibility in the name of the man who would be our new speaker of the House. Imagine my bitter disappointment when I heard on the radio that B-o-e-h-n-e-r is pronounced “BAY-ner.” What a loss to comedy! (Pause.) I’m going to give you a moment to think about that one…
  • Moving on, Alvin Greene also disappointed us. He gave it a good run, but fell just a BIT short of winning his election, so now we don’t have Alvin Greene to kick around anymore. Of course, now he says he’s going to run for president. I mean, he’s doing his best for us, and I appreciate that, but he’s completely lost the strategic advantage of surprise, and I’m concerned that he might not be able to cinch the nomination this time.
  • Then there’s Christine O’Donnell, the former teenage witch. We had a lot of fun with her during the election, and she promised to be a hoot and a half once she got to the Senate. And that was looking good, since she had that can’t-miss Tea Party kingmaker, Jim DeMint, backing her. Apparently, neither his magic nor hers was working. Maybe she SHOULD have joined that coven, after all.
  • Here’s how bad it’s gotten on the political humor front: I heard the other day that Gov. Sanford was seen actually hiking the Appalachian Trail – or thereabouts, anyway. No detour to, say, Patagonia. I mean, when you can’t rely on Mark Sanford, what are you gonna do?

Now, I don’t want to leave y’all feeling hopeless. There are some promising developments on the horizon:

  • First, South Carolina still has the first-in-the-South Republican presidential primary, and it’s only 14 months away. So there’s all sorts of potential for tomfoolery in the days to come.
  • Next, Nancy Pelosi isn’t fading away, but seems poised to come back as the new minority leader. This will at least please South Carolina Republicans. You may have noticed in the recent election how they LOVE saying her name, over and over, whether it’s relevant to the subject at hand or not. Say “good morning” to a Republican running for Congress, and he’ll say “Nancy Pelosi.”
  • Oh, and how about the way she resolved the fight between our own Jim Clyburn and Steny Hoyer over the meaningless post of minority whip? She made up an even MORE meaningless position for Mr. Clyburn as a consolation prize. THAT has potential. I launched a contest today on my blog to come up with a fitting title for that post. I’m leaning toward “Once and Future Whip,” or maybe “Whip Wannabe.”
  • Finally, I see that our new governor-elect has named her transition team, saying she chose its members based on their success in their chosen fields. Then I saw she had named her husband to the team. Now, that fact in and of itself doesn’t quite rise to the level of “funny,” but it has promise. And I promise YOU that I will keep an eye on that situation and report back if anything develops.

Anyway, bottom line, I told y’all this wouldn’t be funny. So let me close with this little story I pulled off the Internet:

A politician, a clergyman, and a Boy Scout were passengers in a small plane that developed engine trouble. The pilot announced, “We’ll have to bail out. Unfortunately, there are only three parachutes. I have a wife and seven small children. My family needs me. I’m taking one of the parachutes and jumping out!” And he jumped. Then the politician said, “I am the smartest politician in the world. The country needs me. I’m taking one of the parachutes.” And he jumped. The clergyman said to the Boy Scout, “I’ve had a good life and yours is still ahead of you. You take the last parachute.” The scout shrugged and said, “Don’t need to. There are two parachutes left. The smartest politician in the world just jumped with my knapsack!”

How did it go? Well, let’s put it this way — I got a big laugh on the joke I pulled from the Internet. But I wasn’t disappointed. The small laughs I got in response to the rest was the most I was hoping for.

It definitely wasn’t like the times that I KILLED. But I didn’t totally die, either…

Nikki Haley’s transition team

Here’s Nikki Haley’s transition team, as she announced it today:

Ambassador David Wilkins, Chairman. Ambassador David H. Wilkins is a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP and chairs the Public Policy and International Law practice group. Wilkins was nominated by President George W. Bush to become the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, serving from June 2005 to January 2009. A former speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives for 11 years and 25 years total as an elected representative, Wilkins now serves as Chairman of the Clemson University Board of Trustees.

Chad Walldorf, Vice-Chairman Chad Walldorf is the co-founder of Sticky Fingers and was named a 2004 Ernst and Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” for the Carolinas.  He and his partners sold the company in 2006 after growing it to include restaurants in five states and a national line of barbecue sauces. Walldorf served in the Reagan White House’s Office of Political Affairs and for two years as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Mark Sanford.  He chaired the 2007 Government Efficiency and Accountability Review (GEAR) Commission which resulted in detailed recommendations for the Budget and Control Board with half a billion dollars in estimated savings.

Derick Close. Derick Close is CEO of Springs Creative Products Group in Rock Hill.  A member of Clover-based Huffman Machine Tool’s Board of Directors, Close is past president of the South Carolina Manufacturing Alliance and serves on its executive committee.

Dave Ellison. Dave Ellison joined Northwestern Mutual in 1981 after a five year banking career. He has served or is currently serving on several community boards including the Furman University Board of Trustees, the United Way of Greenville County Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors of Southern First Bancshares, Inc. Ellison’s leadership positions include serving as past chair of the Furman Board of Trustees, past president of the Furman Alumni Association and past chair of the United Way’s Palmetto Society.

Michael Haley. Michael Haley currently works in the human resource office as the State Equal Employment Manager for the South Carolina National Guard.  He is also an officer with the Medical Command in the Army National Guard.

Jermaine Husser. Jermaine Husser is currently the Executive Director (CEO) of the Lowcountry Food Bank. Husser oversees the operations, program and services at the Lowcountry Food Bank’s main distribution center in Charleston and Regional Food Centers in Myrtle Beach and Beaufort.

Jennie M. Johnson. Jennie Johnson is the Executive Director of Liberty Fellowship. She was previously president of Liberty Insurance Services and executive vice president of RBC Liberty Insurance. Her prior experience includes serving as president of Pierce National Life and strategic planning for Ashland Oil. Johnson is Vice-Chair of the Area Commission for Greenville Technical College, and she formerly chaired the South Carolina Research Authority.

Pamela P. Lackey. As President of AT&T South Carolina, Pamela Lackey is responsible for the company’s public policy, economic development and community affairs activities in the state. She works closely with state and community leaders to help bring new technology and jobs to the state and improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians. Prior to joining AT&T in 1997, she was a professional educator, most recently serving on the staff of the State Superintendent of Education. She is the Chair of the S.C. Research Centers of Economic Excellence Review Board and serves on numerous other boards, including the Central S.C. Alliance, the South Carolina State Chamber of Commerce, Governor’s School for the Arts, Palmetto Business Forum and the University of South Carolina Business Partnership Foundation.

Don Leonard. President of Leonard, Call & Associates, Inc., Don Leonard is Chairman of the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank and serves on the Wake Forest University Board of Trustees, the Board of Directors of the National Bank of South Carolina, the Board of Trustees of the Grand Strand Regional Medical Center and the Board of Trustees of Brookgreen Gardens.

Leighton Lord. Leighton Lord is former chairman of Nexsen Pruet, LLC.  He focuses his law practice on economic development and was Boeing’s legal team leader in the deal that brought the company to South Carolina. Lord serves on several boards, including Santee Cooper.

Pat McKinney. A long-time Charleston resident, Pat McKinney has spent his entire business career involved in the development of upscale communities along coastal South Carolina. Since 1988, he has been a partner in Kiawah Development Partners, the master developer of Kiawah Island. A past appointee to the State Board of Education (1987-1990), he is currently serving on the Board of Trustees of Furman University where he is chair of the Financial Management Committee.

Henry McMaster. President Ronald Reagan chose Henry McMaster to be his first U.S. Attorney. Then, when the people of South Carolina needed a strong Attorney General, they twice elected Henry McMaster. As chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, McMaster’s leadership was instrumental in electing Republican majorities to the state House and state Senate for the first time since Reconstruction. McMaster has served as chairman and a member of the board of directors of the South Carolina Policy Council and was appointed by Governor Carroll Campbell to serve on the state Commission on Higher Education.

Dr. Henry N. Tisdale. A native of Kingstree and magna cum laude graduate of Claflin University, Dr. Henry Tisdale returned to his alma mater as its eighth president in 1994. Dr. Tisdale has presided over a period of unprecedented growth and development at Claflin. During his tenure, Claflin has achieved national recognition for academic excellence, increased enrollment, and enhancement of both its physical infrastructure and research capacity. Dr. Tisdale earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Claflin in 1965 and became the first African-American to receive a doctorate in mathematics from Dartmouth.

George Wolfe. A partner in the Columbia office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, George Wolfe serves as Chair of the firm’s Economic Development Practice Group. He has worked over the last 20 years to develop policies and laws in support of economic development in South Carolina. Mr. Wolfe has worked closely with companies establishing and expanding new operations in South Carolina, including some of the largest investments in the history of the state.

At this point on a Friday afternoon I don’t have much to say about the list, beyond:

  • David Wilkins is there to reassure us more mainstream folk that Nikki really DOES want to play well with others. And so far, it’s working.
  • Sanford Überpal Chad Walldorf is there to tell the Tea Party faithful to ignore that David Wilkins appointment, she’s not going Establishment.
  • Henry McMaster is there because, well, who else among party leaders actually actively supported her campaign after he and other mainstream Republicans were pushed aside in the primary.
  • Husband Michael Haley is there because… well, I’m having trouble coming up with a justification for that one. I mean, Jenny Sanford was always involved in her ex-husband’s administration because she was the brains behind the Sanford mob. But Michael Haley, from what I’ve seen, has been in the background. Of course, he and Henry were the only adults who stood up on the stage with her when she gave her victory address, so that’s something…
  • George Wolfe and Leighton Lord are also, like David Wilkins, sort of reassuring ties to the actual conservative part of the Republican Party, rather than the newfangled neo-revolutionary wing. They’re both smart guys who I hope will have an impact.

Additional thoughts, anyone?

Wearing your allegiance on your sleeve — or on your Facebook page, anyway

Right after the election, I noticed a Nikki Haley bumper sticker, and it struck me that I hadn’t seen a whole lot of those during the election, which caused me to Tweet:

Ever notice how you see more bumper stickers for a candidate AFTER he/she wins than you did before Election Day? I do…

It may be purely a perception flaw on my part, but after a number of elections I have strongly suspected a belated “bandwagon” effect accounting for the number of fresh, unfrayed, clean bumper stickers that I see for the new officeholder even a year or more after the election.

It’s probably a little of both. But that means the bandwagon effect is to some extent at play. And that, to me, is one of the oddest things about human nature. I just don’t understand the bandwagon effect in politics. Either you like a candidate or you don’t. Either you believe in a cause or you don’t. What sort of weak-willed person adjusts his judgments according to what’s more popular? But we all know it happens. It’s one reason why campaigns stress polls that show their side winning; it tends to contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I can sort of see it working with sports. After all, I ignored the Braves for years until their worst-to-first performance in 1991, after which I couldn’t get enough of them for several years. But that’s about the fact that it’s more enjoyable to watch someone play baseball WELL than to watch them play badly. And I’m very much a September/October kind of baseball fan, because that’s when you see the best, most exciting play.

But choosing whom you’ll support on the basis of who you think will win, or even worse, someone who has already won? That’s either contemptible, or just plain weird.

But anyway, I didn’t think any more about the bumper stickers until I saw this Tweet today from Nettie Britts:

If you still have a Sheheen avatar you really need to change that.

Really, I thought… how come? And why Sheheen specifically? I asked that, and Logan Stewart jumped in with:

lbstewart Logan Stewart

@BradWarthen @nettie_b the day after he lost election, I made my FB profile pic one of @vincentsheheen & me b/c I’m proud of his work in SC

I guess she was talking about this.

Nettie responded:

@BradWarthen @lbstewart I think it looks silly to still have campaign stuff up. You don’t need to communicate message anymore.

This seemed sensible enough. It’s sort of what I think when I see those bumper stickers. Nevertheless, I was inspired to go put up a picture with Sheheen in it on the blog — I put it on the page you get when you use the search function.

Because Lord knows, we’re going to see a lot of pictures of Nikki Haley — the choice of just 51 percent of SC voters — over the next few years. Bumper stickers, too. Just watch.

So what’s the harm in having something up for the rest of us?

Haley takes big step toward GOP respectability

David Wilkins in January 2009./photo by Brad Warthen

The state Democratic Party is giving Nikki Haley a hard time for choosing David Wilkins to head her transition:

Columbia, SC – South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler released the following statement today in response to Gov.-elect Nikki Haley’s announcement that GOP insider David Wilkins will head her transition team.  Wilkins is a former long-time SC legislator, House Speaker, and ambassador.

“We were hoping Nikki Haley had gotten the hypocrisy out of her system during her campaign, but apparently she didn’t.  David Wilkins’ appointment shows South Carolinians that the Haley Administration isn’t going to be the “movement” they were promised. The governor-elect has given the highest position on her team to one of the very same good ol’ boys she campaigned against.  She can’t move this state forward by continuing to reach backward,” said Fowler.

But I see it as a positive development — Nikki the Tea Party insurgent reaching out to the respectable center of her party. In other words, reaching out to the conservative center of the state GOP.

And that can only be a good thing. If I were one of her typical supporters, I might wonder. But since I’m not, I don’t.

For me, this is sort of like when I found myself reassured by Obama’s national security pragmatism after the 08 election.

Yo no sé que el quiere decir

I read the 2nd reading at Mass yesterday, in Spanish, and doing so reminded me of something I read on another blog last week…

Just for those of you who still care — perhaps out of morbid fascination — what Will Folks has to say about Nikki Haley, I share this. It was Will’s entire statement with regard to her victory last week:

“Porque ¿qué aprovechará al hombre, si ganare todo el mundo, y pierde su alma.” – Marcos 8:36 (Sagradas Escrituras – 1569)

And no, I don’t know what he meant to say by that, or why he used a Spanish translation. It just struck me as mildly interesting that he chose to respond with a verse from Scripture, and that he chose that particular verse. I can think of a couple of ways to read that, and they are very different, so I’m not going to guess. Unusually cryptic, coming from such a tell-all guy.

By the way, sisters: “Women” didn’t go for Haley

Y’all know how fed up I was during the campaign with all the breathless Identity Politics hoopla, especially in the national media, over Nikki Haley being an Indian-American (gasp!) woman (oh, joy! oh, rapture!). I don’t like all that IP stuff in the best of times, but to watch the way it boosted Nikki over the first Lebanese-American Catholic (to use language they would understand) ever to receive a major-party nomination for governor in this state was pretty maddening.

But if I thought that was bad, that was nothing compared to what we’ve been subjected to since last Tuesday. The next “journalist” who says “historic” in reference to what happened last week is going to get slapped upside the head, if I’m within arm’s reach.

I got my fill of it in the WIS studio on election night, as everyone but me went on and on about it. Of course, on live TV, one reaches for whatever one has at hand to have something to say, I suppose. But ever since then, Tom Wolfe’s Victorian Gent has been in full rant, loudly expressing the Appropriate Sentiment — or as Wolfe termed it, “the proper emotion, the seemly sentiment, the fitting moral tone” –over the allegedly monumental event.

OK, so basically, this was a big victory for women, huh? Well, before the sisters get too overjoyed about this, it would be good to note that “women” didn’t elect Nikki Haley. So much for the solidarity of sisterhood.

Mind you, I put “women” in quotation marks for ironic purpose. I’m using it the way Republicans say “America voted Republican,” or “South Carolina preferred Nikki Haley.” The thing is, a SLIGHT majority of women preferred Vincent Sheheen, according to exit polls. And when I say slight, I mean slight: 50 percent to 49 percent. But hey, it would have been enough for him to win if all the men had stayed home. (But I will say that, even though the exit poll didn’t measure this, I’m thinking Nikki won the SC Indian-American vote. I’m just going by the number that was there dancing at her victory party, so my assumption is unscientific.)

To analyze the exit polls further… If I were the sort who cared about Identity Politics — if I thought being of a certain gender or race or whatever mattered — I would start to wonder about myself. Vincent lost in pretty much every demographic group to which I belong. Except two: Ideology (Vincent won among “moderates,” with 63 percent of us) and non-evangelicals.

Which, I suppose, is why I hate talk of Identity Politics. It doesn’t affect the way I vote, and I don’t think it should affect anybody’s.

How Haley Won (the short version)

On Sunday I had too much going on to read the paper, but I didn’t feel like I was missing much, because the lede headline was, “How Haley beat Sheheen.”

That would have to be shortest analysis story yet, since the entire explanation can be expressed thusly:

“She ran as a Republican in 2010.”

It’s so obvious from the outcome that, since Vincent Sheheen garnered a larger percentage of the vote than any other Democrat running in South Carolina, Nikki Haley didn’t do anything else to contribute to her success. In fact, the numbers indicate that everything else that happened in the fall campaign must have worked against her.

So, a very short story. (And yet my colleague John O’Connor squeezed 2,000 words out of it. My hat is off to him. Editors don’t give reporters that kind of room often, so when they do, any writer worth his salt makes the most of it.)

Now, if you want to talk about how she won the nomination — her transition into the darling of the Tea Party — that might take some verbiage. But there’s not much to say about her victory in the general. She hit her crescendo in June, but the air gradually leaked out of her campaign until she barely squeaked by on Election Day. But being a Republican guaranteed that she could afford to blow a big lead, and still win. So she did.

Another stand-alone governor? Let’s hope not

Photo by Gerry Melendez/The State

In the newspaper biz, a “stand-alone” is a picture that has no story with it. I’m still looking back at Tuesday night, and pondering a photo that embodies another sense of “stand-alone”…

As we were waiting… and waiting, and waiting… for Nikki Haley’s victory speech that night, someone in the WIS studio wondered aloud why Henry McMaster was the one killing time at the podium (actually, he was introducing her, but we didn’t realize that at first). Well, who else would it have been? said I. He was the only member of the GOP establishment to have embraced her — her only primary opponent to play a positive, prominent role in her campaign. That’s Henry; he’s Old School. If it’s his party’s nominee, he’s behind her, 100 percent.

So who else would introduce her?

And then I thought no more about it. My mind turned to how low-energy and off-key her subsequent speech was. (Something Cindi Scoppe apparently disagrees with, since she wrote, “She made a good start with her victory speech.“)

It was only when I looked at the photos later (and these photos are from The State, where you can find both a Nikki victory gallery and a Sheheen concession gallery) that I thought about the extreme contrast. There was Vincent, with a broad array of people loyally, warmly supporter him in his hour of defeat — while aside from Henry, Nikki stood alone (I’m not counting family; both candidates had that).

First the delay. Then she comes out alone, without political allies, then she delivers that less-than-enthusiastic speech. What was going on?

I don’t know, but I hope it doesn’t stay like this. We’ve had 8 years of a stand-alone governor, and a governor standing alone can’t accomplish anything in this state, for good or for ill.

We’d all be better off if more people were willing to stand with our governor. Of course, it would help if she acted like she wanted them to. And that’s the thing, isn’t it? The sort of person with whom more people are willing to stand, and who is willing to stand with more people, is the sort of person that, well, more people want to stand with. That made me dizzy. Let me read it again — yep, that’s what I meant to say…

Photo by C. Aluka Berry/The State

Woulda Coulda Shoulda: Could Sheheen have won with a better campaign?

Last night, when it was all over, I was struck by two things: How much better Vincent Sheheen’s concession speech was than any speech I heard during the campaign, and how much worse Nikki’s was.

As I said on the air last night, that “victory” speech was so… low… energy. The people in the studio laughed, saying, “It’s after midnight!” So what? I wasn’t tired (I didn’t hit the sack until about 3, and then only after a couple of beers). She shouldn’t have been, either. She should have been PUMPED! The crowd that had had the patience to wait for her (the folks in the WIS studio were puzzled she made the world wait for her so long; I told them to get used to it, because Nikki will have no more use for the people of SC going forward, as she continues to court national media) ALSO should have been pumped. But they sounded like an average group of supporters listening to an average, mid-campaign speech.

Maybe she was saving her energy to be on the Today show today. (Here we go again, folks. More of the same of what we got with Mark Sanford, Mr. FoxNews.)

As I urged people on TV last night — go to that clip I posted on the blog of her speech the day Sarah Palin endorsed her. Where was THAT enthusiasm? It’s like she had this finite supply, and it was just… enough… to carry her BARELY over the finish line in a remarkably close victory for a Republican in 2010.

As for Vincent, when he said that line about how he and his supporters “wished with all your might to take this state in a new direction,” it resonated so that I thought, “Where was THAT during the election?” Sure, he talked about not wanting more of what had under Sanford and such; he made the point — but he never said it in a way that rang out. He didn’t say it with that kind of passion.

It’s so OBVIOUS that that should have been his theme. Instead, we had the complete and utter absurdity of Nikki Haley running as a change agent. It’s so very clear that in electing Nikki Haley, the voters chose the course most likely to lead to more of the malaise that we’ve experience in recent years.

But hey, woulda coulda shoulda.

I just raise the point now to kick off a discussion: Is there something Vincent Sheheen could have done that he didn’t that would have put him over the top? Or did he come so close to winning, in the worst possible year to run as a Republican, because he ran the perfect campaign?

I mean, he came SO close. It was so evident that Nikki was the voters’ least favorite statewide Republican (yes, Mick Zais got a smaller percentage, but there were several “third party” candidates; Frank Holleman still got fewer votes than Vincent). I look at it this way: Mark Hammond sort of stands as the generic Republican. Nobody knows who he is or what he does, so he serves as a sort of laboratory specimen of what a Republican should have expected to get on Nov. 2, 2010, given the prevailing political winds. He got 62 percent of the vote.

Even Rich Eckstrom — and this is truly remarkable given his baggage, and the witheringly negative campaign that Robert Barber ran against him — got 58 percent.

So Nikki’s measly 51.4 percent, in the one race with the highest profile, is indicative to me of the degree to which voters either liked Vincent, or didn’t like her.

So the question remains: Could Vincent have won with a better campaign, or did he do as well as he did — ALMOST pulling off what would have been a miracle in this election year — because his campaign was so good?


Comment on election results HERE…

… and I will do my best to keep up with them and approve them in something close to real time.

Remember, I’ll be on WIS from 7 to 8 tonight, and then again from 11 to midnight, if my voice holds out (I seem to have come down with an untimely cold).

So watch me, watch the returns, comment here, and I’ll try to keep up. I’m not sure what the accommodation will be at WIS for my laptop, but I’ll try to figure out something…

Now, see, THIS is a partisan smear…

There are thousands of people at the polls right now voting for Nikki Haley in spite of all the powerful, objective reasons not to, because they think all those bad things they’ve heard are just some unfair, partisan attempt to smear her. Listen to them; that’s what they think.

That’s because they are either not paying close attention, or they truly lack the intellectual capacity to tell the difference between indisputable facts about Nikki, and a true smear campaign.

It’s a bit late, I suppose, but just for future reference, folks, here’s what it looks like when a bunch of stuff is thrown unfairly at a candidate in the hope something will stick. I got it from Phil Noble at SC New Democrats:

Two Ard arrests on Election Day


We’re just getting word that there’s trouble on Republican candidate for lt. governor Ken Ard’s campaign today.  And it couldn’t have come at a more critical time.

After weeks of investigation, six arrest warrants have been issued for Ken Ard’s campaign manager, a Republican operative named Robert Cahaly.  Cahaly will surrender himself to SLED agents Wednesday morning on charges of making illegal robocalls against several targeted Democratic state house representatives. These sleazy Republican tactics are exactly what voters hate about politics.

This comes just hours after Ken Ard’s 20-year old son, James Ard was arrested at 6 A.M. this morning for DUI.

And as of this afternoon, Ken Ard was still on the campaign trail, asking for you to elect him to be our state’s lieutenant governor — #2 in charge.  We think the charges speak for themselves, but the WIS write-up is below.

This is what we’re up against.

But there’s still time.  The polls don’t close until 7PM, so there’s stil time for you to stand against this kind of trash politics.

Just yesterday, Ashley Cooper (Ken Ard’s Democratic opponent) talked about putting South Carolina back in the news for all the right reasons, and now this.

It’s time for a change.

Get out there and vote before 7PM today and have your voice heard!

Thanks again,


Now, I think Phil is a fine and, well, Noble fellow, and I know he’s sincere. And I have no reason to doubt his facts (even though that link he gives goes to a page that says “The page you requested is currently unavailable.” The actual link is here.)

But it’s unfair to raise those things at this time, and to say, “This is what we’re up against,” because there is no indication here that Mr. Ard himself has done anything wrong, or even that anything wrong has been done in his behalf. And he has no time to distance himself from this guilt by association.

Surely Phil would not want to suggest that no one should vote for Vincent Sheheen because one of his campaign workers was charged with DUI (months ago, giving Vincent time to fire her and let everyone see him firing her, and for the thing to be largely forgotten). Phil would consider such an assertion to be outrageously unfair. Which, until I hear something that implicates Mr. Ard in any way, is what this is.

By contrast, almost every time we’ve looked at anything that bears on the claims that Nikki Haley makes about herself — about what a wonderful accountant she is, or how passionately she believes in transparency — what we find refutes her claims, and raises fresh alarms about her suitability. That’s the kind of thing that is not only fair and relevant, but things that anyone MUST know and understand before voting.

There’s a huge difference.