Racism in South Carolina? How Original! (June 5, 2010)

Nikki Haley

Talk about the ultimate backfire. When Palmetto State Republican gubernatorial candidate John M. “Jake” Knotts Jr., called GOP frontrunner Nikki Haley, a converted Christian of Sikh Indian descent, a “raghead” this week, he made the young lawmaker a household name. Heretofore, she had only been known as the slutty would-be replacement for the current tramp in the Governor’s mansion, Mark Sanford. Haley was well on her way to doing herself in, having faced two separate allegations, within the span ten days, of having sexual relations with GOP operatives. But leave it to an old, fat, racist white man to breathe new life into Haley’s candidacy.

I have to admit that I never bothered to search for an image of Haley, until Knotts hurled his antiquated and culturally ignorant epithet. I read a column in the New York Times by the incandescent Gail Collins this week that addressed the infidelity accusations dogging Haley’s campaign, and upon coming across her name for the first time, I assumed she was simply another hypocritical, greedy member of the far right, which tends as we know, to be WASP-y in its makeup. No thanks. It wasn’t until news spread that Knotts had not only insulted Haley’s cultural heritage, but managed to rope President Obama into a racist slam at the same time, that I wanted to know more about this woman.

And if I am discovering interest in Haley, it is not a far conjectural leap to assume that voters in South Carolina are doing the same. The rumored adulterer and mother of two has suddenly been rendered sympathetic by the shocking ignorance of a challenging member of the ruling class. In a political climate that is very anti-establishment at the moment, Knotts could not have made a more damaging faux pas, leaving aside what it says about his tolerance and character. All of the sudden, the clout of Republican heavyweight Sarah Palin is thrown behind Haley’s candidacy, in the form of recorded robo-calls. Whatever one might think of Palin, there is no denying her star power, particularly in the Red States. I doubt Knotts can count on any important party support, except perhaps from the ghost of late South Carolina Senator and fellow ideological crackpot, Strom Thurmond.

Which brings me to another point. I thought conventional wisdom had it that in order for the Republican party to compete in the ever more diverse landscape of American politics, they were going to have to break with the past, be more inclusive? Wasn’t the point of hiring bumbling jackass Michael Steele as chairman of the RNC (the gift to the Democrats that keeps on giving), to put a face on that effort? Well you can place as many visages of color in leadership positions as you want, Republicans, but as long as you have wingnuts like Knotts, and media personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly doing your talking for you, it’s going to be hard to convince people that you are other than the party of discrimination. In a nation that becomes more multi-ethnic by the year, intolerance is dangerous and unsustainable.

One can only assume, despite Knotts’s predictable, insincere apology for his comments, that his candidacy is all but over. Thank goodness for that. I believe an additional boost to Haley’s run will stem from her measured, savvy response to the controversy. She was quoted as saying: “What the race in 2010 will prove is the goodness of the people of South Carolina, that there [are] fewer people of the Jake Knotts [ilk] and that there are a lot more good, educated people [who] want their voice heard in government.”

I can only hope that other members of the new Republican movement are sincere in their desire to expand their membership base, and are not just cynically chasing votes. Because even those of us are who lean far left have much to gain in finding a worthy adversary with new ideas and attitudes. Clearly however, the old guard of the GOP has not looked a calendar lately. It’s 2010, not 1959 fellas.

The Water in South Carolina (September 11, 2009)

Eddie has been traveling to this Southern State for most of the year, part of the deal that comes with his landing a solid, full-time job with the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Association. I have gone along with him on two of these weekly business trips since July, and have written a bit about how I enjoyed the quiet and relaxation I had found in the small town of Blythewood to do my work (both freelance writing, and on my tan).

So yes, South Carolina has necessarily been on my radar this year. But even if my husband’s career hadn’t led him toward an intimate relationship with this land of 4.5 million people, it would be hard to ignore the continuing stream of news oddities that have been vomited from the overheated Red state in 2009. This latest bit, the by-now infamous conduct of Congressman Joe Wilson, who screamed “You lie!” like a classless red neck whooping it up at a monster truck rally at President Obama, during a nationally televised address, only served to remind me that this is the fourth time in a very short period that something shady in SC has mounted the national stage.

1. June 22, 2009 – Governor Mark Sanford Goes “Hiking”


I believe we all know by now that the early summer “vacation” of the Gov was instead a jaunt down to Argentina to get a blowjob from his mistress. This continues to be a major pickle, and I had assumed (wrongly) that the GOP would like to shove this business under the rug so they could get back to the important work of scaring senior citizens to death about health care reform. But no! They are the ones who continue to call for Sanford’s ouster, as recently as this week. There’s nothing that makes me smile brighter than right wing cannibalism.

2. July 6, 2009 – Police say suspect in South Carolina serial killings is dead


If you blinked in early July, or were out enjoying summer fun rather than stuck indoors watching TV with your overseas in-laws, you may have missed this. It is for the best that this miscreant did himself in. Patrick Tracy Burris’ five victims were completely random in terms of age, class and relation to the murderer (i.e. none). An unreadable killer is the most dangerous of all.

3. August 19, 2009 – Record Setting PowerBall Jackpot Winner From South Carolina


It took Solomon Jackson Jr. WEEKS to claim his 259 million dollar prize. And as of today, he has yet to make a decision as to how he’d like to be paid (cash or annuity). Glad he doesn’t need the money that badly. Eddie and I had tickets for this particular drawing, so I took this indecision personally.

4. September 9, 2009 – ‘You Lie:’ Joe Wilson outburst sets bad example for kids


It would be amoral of me, as a responsible blogger, not to admit that I have had to restrain myself this week from writing Congressman Wilson a thank you letter: not because I support his childish display of petulant rudeness. No, I thank him because he has changed the subject of the health care reform debate from prophesies of dead grandmas, to an examination of just how partisan and disrespectful Capitol Hill practices have gotten. Obama and Co. are savvily riding the PR and sympathy wave, handing out gracious and forgiving soundbites, and leaving uncommitted independents wondering if the Republicans can find their own asses much less develop an adult piece of beneficial legislation.

So it’s been a busy few months for a State that comprises a mere 1.5% of the nation’s total population. I think they had better drum up some media attention for something other than slutty/crazy politicians, murder and careless millionaires on the double. Thanks to the Blago/Roland Burris fiasco, I informally awarded Illinois the 2008 Goat of the Union Award. Looks like SC is a serious contender for ’09.