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Nikki … Paley??

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If you haven’t heard of her yet, Nikki Haley is the next in a series of Sarah Palin clones — that would be to say, very unremarkable and obscurant — who are making inroads this primary election season.

If you’ve heard one speech from someone in the Tea Party camp, you’ve heard them all, so here’s Haley speaking Wednesday in Columbia, S.C., following the Tuesday vote which placed her just 2 percentage points back from winning the primary outright against Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-Westminster). The two will enter a run-off on June 22 to decide the the Republican gubernatorial candidate for governor.

What is remarkable about Haley and for what I will be proud is my home state’s ability to A, elect its first female to the highest office in the state and B, to elect a non-white (Haley is Indian-American). The New York Times offers this piece on Haley, which at its start, offers this bit of lucid imagery:

Credit: AP

As she entered the top-floor suite of a downtown business club here on Tuesday, Nikki Haley passed an oil painting of nine former South Carolina governors. All were men, all were white, depicted seated along a long table like a political version of “The Last Supper.”

But — and there is almost always a “but” — Haley is riding the far right train to, not just win on the Republican ticket, but to attempt to trade or change the state’s overriding Republicanism to conservatism, whatever that might mean. And in South Carolina, a state whose elected officials routinely ignore the interests of their minority constituents (In nastier cases, hostile to them), Haley’s tired and boring “us versus the establishment” rhetoric can get votes every time.

So, while it will be historic, and possibly refreshing, to have a female governor in a state that has historically trampled on the rights of every race and gender — except white and affluent males — it will not be a surprise and not terribly, if at all, dissimilar to having Palin herself (One can catch glimpses of the Palin charm in Haley’s speech, minus the Alaskan vernacular. She must be practicing).

Jenny on Mark: ‘Just saw him as lost’

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Credit: AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File

So, the forlorn governor of my home state has not only cost his constituents money with his extra-marital escapades (the marriage is now no more), he’s now apparently costing Florida money because of his recent visit to that state to see the woman, María Belén Chapur, who seems to have unalterably enchanted the good governor.

According to this report from The Associated Press,

The recently divorced governor spent several days in South Florida over Mother’s Day weekend to see if he could rekindle his relationship with Maria Belen Chapur.

Information obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request from the Department of Law Enforcement shows Florida state agents provided security for Sanford from May 7 through May 11, with the exception of Mothers’ Day.

The department’s cost analysis showed it protected Sanford for a total of 34 hours at a rate of $24.43 an hour in addition to $25.81 in travel costs.

The department has a reciprocal agreement with other states and will not be reimbursed by South Carolina for Sanford’s dalliance. Officials did not explain why Sanford was not protected on Mother’s Day, which was May 9.

Jenny Sanford, by all accounts, has moved on. She has a new book, which is aptly named, “Staying True” (We can only assume), and on an appearance this week on Dr. Phil, she aired some of her frustrations on the whole sundry ordeal:

Asked by Dr. Phil about why she didn’t stand next to her husband at the June press conference at which he publicly disclosed his affair, Jenny Sanford said it wasn’t a possibility.

“First of all, he never asked me to be next to him,” she said. “At the time, he was coming back from Argentina. We had had six months of what was sheer hell for me, and the thought of standing by him when he had just done the unconscionable, it just never entered my mind. It just wasn’t even a possibility for me.”

Dr. Phil said he was “astounded” Sanford first apologized to the state’s citizens and his lover at the press conference before acknowledging the pain he caused his wife and family.

“He didn’t say anything I wanted him to say,” Jenny Sanford said about the press conference. She said she would have liked to have heard him say, “I love my wife so much I can’t believe I did this to her.”

She said she was “astonished” and “crushed” when he later gave an interview detailing his romance with the woman and describing her as his “soul mate.”

“I just saw him as lost,” she said. “I love the Mark Sanford I knew, the one I fell in love with when we married. Can I ever be married to him again? Absolutely not.”

Sanford’s mushroom cloud

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Note: The part below the three stars was written the following day, June 25, 2009.

In the wake of the tidbit of news South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford decided to share with the state and the rest of the country today (He was, of course, in Argentina with a woman this week rather than hiking on the Appalachian Trail, as was the “official” reason given for his vanishing act … Or, as Stephen Colbert said yesterday, that must have been one long hike!), I’ve noticed that several news outlets have used the word “bombshell” to describe the content of the recent news Sanford conference: here, here and here, for examples.

I figured why not up the ante. I think “mushroom cloud” describes the situation fairly accurately. Seriously, though. Politicians, on either side of the aisle, who cheat or generally have themselves too good of a time should not make us overtly surprised by now after Eliot Spitzer’s (D-N.Y.) brouhaha, Mark Foley’s alleged communications with a male page, the John Ensign scandal, of course, the Big Cheese himself, Mr. Clinton, and I can go on. So, Sanford can just get in the back of a line, a long line, or politicians who’s power trumped their reason, and of course, who’s libido trumped all.

Of course, I jest about the “mushroom cloud” thing, but I wonder: what would Sanford have to do to warrant reporters’ use of language describing the most deadly explosion known to man? I don’t know. Rob a bank. Report back to us from the Statehouse in a few months that he now has a kid with some this girl in Argentina. That might do the trick.


Heck, at this point, he should just continue on and see what else he can get himself into. He’s already destroyed any respect that South Carolina and the South was attempting to build after that long foray into slavery, the Black Codes, Jim Crow and segregation. Education is not a bright spot. Many parts of the state look like a third world. Examples: the area just outside the bonny banks of Hilton Head’s luxurious coastline (If any area in the South addresses and symbolizes the rich-poor divide, that’s surely it), Orangeburg County, Florence. And, Sanford made national headlines by taking on the state legislature about the stimulus money. The governor’s excursion also doesn’t bode well at all for his party, which, like the state, was attempting to salvage some level of respect, lick its wounds, and rebuild after a crushing defeat in the election and losing majority support in Congress.

The New York Times story from the above link provides a telling quote from a representative of the Family Research Council:

I think there is somewhat of an identity crisis in the Republican Party. Are they going to be a party that attracts values voters, and are they going to be the party that lives by those values? — Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, The Times, June 24, 2009

Good question. And the Republicans don’t really have any better of a record on that issue than the Democrats at this point, the difference being that the Democrats don’t court the religious vote so outrightly, while the Republicans do … and, unfortunately for them, the latter winds up choking down the hypocritical pill.

Party over people?

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The Associated Press has reported that a few governors may opt to refuse economic stimulus money, including this guy, the governor of my home state, Mark Sanford, R-S.C.:

Credit: The Post and Courier

Credit: The Post and Courier

This, despite the fact that many of these states, including South Carolina, are in dire need of extra cash. In South Carolina, cuts in education have come frequently and local school districts are scrambling in attempts to save money, yet not have the local cutbacks affect what happens in the classroom. The state’s Medicaid program nearly dropped hospice care from its coverage to save cash and other areas are severely being short-changed because of the economy.

Thankfully, according to the AP,

… governors who reject some of the stimulus aid may find themselves overridden by their own legislatures because of language (U.S. Rep. James) Clyburn (D-S.C.) included in the bill that allows lawmakers to accept the federal money even if their governors object.

He inserted the provision based on the early and vocal opposition to the stimulus plan by South Carolina’s Republican governor, Mark Sanford. But it also means governors like Sanford and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal — a GOP up-and-comer often mentioned as a potential 2012 presidential candidate — can burnish their conservative credentials, knowing all the while that their legislatures can accept the money anyway.

This is ironic indeed since Clyburn is also from South Carolina. Sanford’s rejection of any stimulus money, as Democratic Party chairwoman Carol Fowler seemed to imply, would be cruel to people in this state who stand to benefit greatly from the boost:

He’s so ideological. He would rather South Carolina do without jobs than take that money, and I think he’s looking for a way not to take it.

In short, Sanford doesn’t care about the best interests of the people in his state. He cares about upholding the ideals of his own party. Party over people: That’s a nice mantra, albeit, not a very endearing one … or compassionate one.

Sanford’s office responded thusly, as spokesman Joel Sawyer said,

We’re going through a 1,200-page bill to determine what our options are. From there, we’ll make decisions.

But it may not matter. Hopefully, the lawmakers in Columbia will have enough sense help out our kids, our unemployed, our sick and others who could benefit from relief from all the financial bleeding this state has suffered through lately.

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