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Team McMaster: More Buffoonery-for-Fodder

June 30, 2009

“The Palmetto State: It’s Back to Politics as Usual.”
By Michael S. Smith II
A former copy editor and features writer for the Evening Post Publishing Company, Mr. Smith, a Republican, is editor of The Palmetto Times (www.palmettotimes.com). He resides in Charleston.

In recent days, rather than focusing on the question of whether South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is fit to remain in office for the remaining 18 months of his term, many Republican gubernatorial candidates, along with several South Carolina newspapers, transitioned the focus to Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer’s political career. That is until Attorney General and likely Republican gubernatorial candidate Henry McMaster on Tuesday announced he has requested an investigation of the governor’s activities, citing the governor’s admission of additional liaisons with Maria Belen Chapur as the driving force behind his decision.

After the governor announced “I’ve been unfaithful to my wife,” Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer, who is hardly what one could call a member of Columbia’s “elite” Sanford crony class, refused to leverage the governor’s shocking admission of adultery as an opportunity to throw Mr. Sanford under the bus.

Despite the lieutenant governor’s tame, if not supportive response to the shocking details surrounding the governor’s unannounced jaunt to Argentina — during which the state was left without an executive officer who could respond to any emergent situations that may have arisen while the governor was with his paramour in South America — Sanford-ally Henry McMaster is quietly mounting attacks against Mr. Bauer. Why? McMaster seems to believe it’s the best way for him to divert his party’s attention from his own prospective derelictions of duty — specifically: His purely political decision not to initiate an investigation of his friend Mark Sanford’s activities when he should have.

A sampling of what’s afoot was recently offered by The New York Times. In a June 28 piece titled “South Carolina Politics Looks Past Affair to Its Effects on Governor Race,” it was reported McMaster aide Trey Walker has put on his political boxing gloves, taking potshots at the lieutenant governor a la Twitter.

According to the report, Mr. Walker was speaking as a “political operative” when he expressed his opinion that Andre Bauer should not be permitted to take over the governorship. In his words, replacing Sanford with Bauer as governor would be tantamount to allowing “a disaster to be replaced by a catastrophe.”

What about the opinions of all those South Carolinians who have twice voted to position Mr. Bauer a heartbeat — or tryst in Argentina as it may turn out — away from doing just that? Mr. Walker, in the words of Sir Winston Churchill: “It’s a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right.”

As is often stated in response to such shenanigans, “Opinions are like …,” well you get the point — and it’s obvious Mr. McMaster has plenty of both in his camp, none of which are doing him any service as of late.

When it comes to members of the Sanford team who have exercised exceptional lapses in judgment during recent months, the guilt does not rest with Mr. Sanford alone. Anyone remember Mr. McMaster’s overblown response to Craigslist being used to market salacious services offered by America’s prostitutes? (See http://www.palmettotimes.com/SC.wmv )

So why have so many South Carolina newspapers supported Mr. Sanford’s decision to stay in office? The answer is quite plain: Contrary to the governor’s claims, Sanford’s decision does not maintain a level-playing field for the upcoming gubernatorial contest. Instead, it strengthens McMaster’s candidacy. And newspapers stand to gain the most from another political victory captured by another cowboyish, lone-wolf-wannabe Republican figure. After all, the antics of so-called “imperial” presidents and governors make for catchy headlines that sell really, really well (i.e. “W.”; Sanford).

If South Carolinians think Governor Sanford provides ample entertainment as an elitist narcissist who has demonstrated tremendous disdain for public opinion, not to mention the opinions of Republicans serving in the General Assembly, they’re going to love what Mr. McMaster and his crew will offer in the way of buffoonery-for-fodder.

Obviously we’re back to politics as usual here in the Palmetto State. Given such, this South Carolinian wonders just how damaging it may be to Mr. McMaster’s, Mr. Walker’s and Gov. Sanford’s political careers if there is in fact some truth to the rumor that the U.S. Department of State discouraged the Sanford administration from organizing its 2008 commerce junket in Argentina, the same trip the governor is refunding the state for because he visited with “Maria” while there. Will Mr. McMaster be able to claim he has been on the right side of history if the governor did in fact defy such a request from the federal government in order to make a meeting with his lover possible? (One wonders if McMaster will bother to instruct SLED to look into this aspect of matters.)

It’s obvious the state’s official trade meetings in Argentina were specious at best, but were they a deceptive ploy at worst? Should Mr. Sanford compensate the state for all participants’ expenses, and not just for his own?

Did Mr. McMaster spend adequate time assessing whether or not he should investigate the governor’s behavior, or has justice taken a backseat to Mr. McMaster’s own desires? That’s a question South Carolinians should be asking themselves and their elected officials right now. They’ve twice answered the question of whether Mr. Bauer has what it takes to lead our state if Mr. Sanford cannot.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2009 2:19 AM

    You got to remember that Henry’s right-hand man and gofer, Trey Walker, is not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. This is the guy who managed John McCain’s Presidential campaign in Virginia and managed to lose that state to the Democrats for the first time since John Kennedy carried it in 1960.

  2. July 4, 2009 12:02 AM

    I applaud you for this investigative reporting. I am sure there are other issues yet to uncover in this, the most corrupt political machine to hit SC in a long time. Sanford’s disdain for his own Republican legislators is evidence enough to know that he would hold the US Government and Commerce Department in similar demeanor. And he holds the people of South Carolina in similar disdain, the pitiful lot of us, by “doing what’s best” for us because he sees us as those so unfortunate we can’t make reasonable decisions for ourselves. I think he needs to resign and do it immediately.

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