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It’s Time to Chart a New Course

July 12, 2009


By Michael S. Smith II, SCHotline Contributing Editor

Reviewing opinion pieces published by The State and The Post and Courier during recent weeks one discovers particularly odd examples of newspapers endeavoring to peddle political influence. Even before the state’s attorney general stumbled upon the good sense to request an investigation to determine if the governor did break any laws when he disappeared in June, several editors were advising the public the governor’s actions did not warrant a resignation or an impeachment. Rather than limiting their focus to the real political implications of Sanford’s decision to remain in office, those papers also took one step too far by targeting the man who would be Sanford’s successor if the governor decided to resign.

In various editorials produced by the aforementioned papers, Lieutenant Governor André Bauer was depicted as anything but a prudent alternative to the emotionally unstable governor. Those newspapers also clearly bought Sanford’s spin that it would be unsporting for him to leave office because doing so might provide his successor, prospective gubernatorial candidate André Bauer, an unfair advantage over other Republicans running in the S.C.GOP’s primary contest.

Citing such comparatively trivial record blemishes as speeding tickets while suggesting his age is an issue, the papers cast Bauer as an erratic, immature and probably unprepared non-solution to the question of whether the governor should resign. Compared to Sanford, according to those newspapers, Bauer is neither the more stable nor the more morally-centered choice.

This, despite the litany of damning revelations about Sanford’s behavior which grew for days following his first “press confessional.” This, despite the governor’s demonstration that exceptional lapses in judgment can in fact be exercised by people over 40, too.

When it comes to the upcoming Republican gubernatorial primary in South Carolina — upon which Sanford claims he wishes to bestow a level-playing field by remaining in office — most conservative insiders know Sanford is doing anything but remaining neutral. What’s more, Sanford’s flip-flopish behind-closed-doors support for two competing candidates suggests the governor’s affinities for things foreign may also include a certain dance-drama of Japanese origins. Kabuki, anyone?

Just who are the governor’s horses in that race?

On the one hand there’s Nikki Hailey, a member of the S.C. General Assembly whose qualifications as a candidate seem to be that she’s a Republican, well, she-candidate.

On the other is not-quite-yet-declared candidate Henry McMaster. You know, the state’s attorney general who in recent months made a name for himself on the national stage as a crusader against CraigsList’s sales of ad space to people marketing certain salacious services. He’s the same guy who quickly determined his pal Mark Sanford’s now infamous “activities” in June did not warrant an investigation by SLED. However, days later, he reversed his position on the matter because the governor admitted to more visits with his Argentinean paramour than were originally disclosed by him. (Here’s a tip for the S.C. Attorney General’s office: If you want to interdict the advertising of such services, start with the telephone books distributed throughout your state.)

When it comes to their relationships with Mr. Sanford, both Nikki Hailey and Henry McMaster may rest assured they’d be better off focusing their energies elsewhere.

When it comes to the matter of declining demands for their products, perhaps editors at certain newspapers should disregard advice which suggests this is merely reflective of an industry-wide trend, and look within. Sometimes staying afloat requires charting a new course. And it may be that an apology issued to Mr. Bauer would be a good first-step in the right direction.


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael Graham permalink
    July 13, 2009 9:52 PM

    VERY BIASED OPINION. You touch on your points, but not on all. Typical

  2. July 13, 2009 10:57 PM


    If this is the same Michael Graham with whom I’ve shared time at a certain cigar bar in Charleston years ago, I must say: Thank you for your interest in this piece. Regarding your comment about it: When is your opinion going to begin to matter to anyone?


    Michael S. Smith II

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