Thursday, August 30, 2007

If Larry Craig was from South Carolina

I do not wish to tell the good people of the state of Idaho how to conduct their political affairs. I have never been to Idaho. I admit the most I know about Idaho is the famous blue field the Boise State college football team plays on and how the bowl game hosted there is the sort of the bowl no one wants to to go to because it is played outside in Idaho in January.

That said, I do know what would happen in South Carolina if Larry Craig was a Senator from South Carolina. There would be outrage. I would join in the outrage and call for the Senator to resign, which I do so here.

When I read the first article about the situation in an internet edition of Roll Call, I laughed out loud. I called a friend and told him I was sending him the story. We both joked about the foot tapping while using the john in a public men's room. I actually had some sympathy for the Senator at that point. I could imagine having to go and waiting on someone to exit the stall and standing there and tapping a foot or making some sort of gesture that said, "hurry up, man, I got to go."

To her credit another friend's wife called me naive. She apparently was right. When I downloaded the police report, I saw it was much different than I thought. Craig was in a stall beside the cop, not waiting on the cop to exit. And, apparently at that airport foot tapping and a hand gesture are sexual come ons.

I plead ignorance of the codes gay men use to express interest in having sex in a bathroom. I really don't care to know. Also, I really don't care if Senator Craig is gay or not. He is not my senator.

However, what I do care about is that a sitting United States Senator of my party pled guilty to a charge related to soliciting sex in a public restroom. I do not care if he was trying to have sex with three hot strippers from The Gentleman's Club, having sex in the public bathroom is wrong and illegal. There is the old saying, "innocent until proven guilty." But, in this case, the accused has admitted guilt, and then put on some sort of press conference tap dance around that guilt.

Enough. Craig should resign. As John McCain put it, "he pled guilty to a crime unbecoming a United States Senator." The " is he gay", "is he a hypocrite," stuff is irrelevant to Craig's future. He should have resigned the day he decided to plead guilty.

In South Carolina, we would have people ready to knock down his office doors to demand his resignation, and nearly every elected official would join them. But we also play our college football on natural grass.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rudy makes a right move

Last night on the WIS news broadcast it was reported that Heath Thomspson was being brought on the Rudy for President campaign. That is a smart move. Heath Thompson worked for Jim DeMint and for George W. Bush. I got to know Heath back in the day, so speak when we both worked for Bob Peeler in his Lt. Governor's races.

By hiriing Heath Thomspson, the Rudy folks are a getting a guy that some call ruthless, and that he might be. But, think of him as talented and hard working. It is a step that makes us know Rudy and his folks are taking South Carolina seriously and are hiring a serious old hand to get some things done.

The hiriing of someone like Heath Thompson tells us that the Rudy folks want to win South Carolina, not just show up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Columbia Police Chief must have ticked someone off

The Columbia media, such as WIS and The State are screaming out in headline stories the controversy surrounding Columbia Police Chief Dean Crisp. The headlines grab one’s attention, but once you get into the stories, there seems not to be that much there.
First, the Chief is accused of letting his adult son and father into crime scenes. He is also accused of letting a Hollywood movie worker into a crime scene. No one accuses the Chief of allowing the crime scenes to be contaminated; only the access is questioned.
When I read those accusations, I thought “What’s the big deal?” First, let’s look at the father’s access to a crime scene. The Chief’s father is a retired law enforcement officer from North Carolina. The man knows his way around a crime scene. Further, I am in business, and father was and is a very good business man, there are times I share with him information and asked for his advice. To me there is nothing wrong with the Chief going to his father and saying, “Hey dad, come take a look at this and tell me what you think.” Indeed, there was even a country music video that glorified such a situation by Toby Keith entitled, “Beer for My Horses.” Go check it out on yahoo music and see it.
Then there is the son situation. When I was a small boy, about 7 or 8, my dad was a textile plant manager. He took into his plant and showed me what he did. I imagine some would call him a criminal for that in today’s world. But, the fact that a father wants his son to see what it is he does is perfectly normal. Indeed, we have days that daughters and sons come to work all over the business world. The fact that the Chief’s son was grown does not change that. That just means the young man was old enough to understand the situation.
Let’s move on to the Hollywood movie worker incident. Who, prominent in any profession, has not had some reporter, some movie worker, some writer, approach them and want access to their business, crime scene, and the like? The Chief seems to me guilty of being a nice guy in this regard. I assume he said something like, “Sure, you can take a look, but stay out of the way. “ Frankly, what local chief or sheriff has not done something like that?
Then there is the allegation The State raises in its article that really makes me shake my head. In their article of the day, they talk about a military officer from Afghanistan being arrested for an altercation with a hotel staffer and somehow attribute that to the Chief since the officer was attached to the Columbia city police department. First, what police chief in his right mind would refuse such a person when the federal government requested they be placed with his department to train in this current climate? Second if and I stress if, the allegations are true, how could the Chief control that?
There is something going one with Chief Crisp that has less to do with his job performance and more to do with some political gamesmanship. The numbers about crime in Columbia are improving under his watch. The media storm surrounding him in the Midlands right now seems to be based on things that are marginal at best.
I believe there is someone in the political know in the Midlands that the Chief ticked off. That someone is pushing all the political buttons. The State attributed attorney Hemphill Pride accusing Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County being that someone. I do not know that and I will not speculate. I believe the Sheriff, like the Chief, is a dedicated law enforcement officer and I would be shocked if the Sheriff was playing this kind of politics.
But, my political instincts do tell that someone in the political know is ticked off at the Chief and trying to give the Chief a case of what one former legislator calls “Congaree fever” It is a shame. The Chief seems to have done nothing wrong.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Is Fred Thompson waiting on McCain?

I have griped on this blog in an earlier post about the presidential campaign being far too long. As a character in one of my favorite movies, Oh Brother Where art Thou says, I have said my peace and counted to three on that. Now I will address some questions I have received from readers about Fred Thompson. I keep getting asked “Why has he not announced officially yet?”
Well, let me give you my guess. As an old political hack who worked on statewide winning campaigns while some readers were in middle school, I have an idea. It is my theory that Fred Thompson will run officially for President. I think is a legitimate candidate.
I also think that Fred Thompson will announce officially after his good friend John McCain officially drops out. McCain’s campaign seems mortally wounded due to McCain’s stand on the failed amnesty legislation. Eventually, and probably not too far off, the old soldier that is McCain will realize his political wounds and drop out.
I believe when and if McCain does drop out that he will endorse his good friend Fred Thompson. Thus, by waiting a bit, Fred Thompson could score a coup of not only announcing his candidacy but also have one of the national icons stand beside him as he does.
I sincerely believe that is what Fred Thompson is waiting on. It would not shock me if his people and McCain’s were not in some sort of negotiations right now as you read this. Fred Thompson is biding his time, and that is smart. Getting in after his old friend McCain drops out and getting his old friend’s open support will strengthen Thompson’s effort towards the nomination. McCain still holds say with about ten to twelve percent of the Republican primary electorate, come what may. Add that to the Thompson numbers, and Fred Thompson is in the thick of things for the nomination.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Presidential races are getting too long

Katon Dawson, the Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, announced in New Hampshire this week the January 19th Republican Presidential primary date. While I understand the leadership of the South Carolina Republican Party wanting to keep the “:First in the South” status of the primary, I am a little taken aback that we Republicans will vote for our preference for President a full year before the new President takes office.

New Hampshire and Iowa will certainly make their dates earlier. There is even speculation about Iowa holding its caucus before Christmas. Add to that fact that big states such as Florida and California have moved their primaries to January and February respectively and there is a real possibility the race for the nomination will be over six months before the convention.

The Democrats are in a similar situation, also having early dates for primaries, with South Carolina’s coming on January 29th of next year.

There is a real possibility that both parties will have their nominees with about six months left to convention, and about 8 months left to the General Election. Those nominees are not going to sit around and wait; they will be raising money and making headlines. The money involved will be incredible.

But, it is the atmosphere that will be created that bothers me far more than the money. With nominees in place, both the sitting President of the United States and the sitting Congress of the United States will be players in the national political campaign, not in the national governing.

Now, I do love a good campaign. I am a political campaign junkie. But, there is a time for campaigning and a time for governing. Doing the nation’s business, making deals that are not under the microscope of the campaign season, is essential to making things work.

During what call the governing period of our system, politicians of both parties will make deals and allowances to make the trains run on time so to speak. In what I call the political season, the least little thing is harped upon for advantage. Compromise and deal making are absent. The grandstanding needed to get this or that bloc of voters simply will not allow logical reasoning at times.

Historically, our nation has done pretty well in sifting through the political rabble rousing to get things done that needed to be done. But, this upcoming election will present a unique challenge.
As a nation at war, I will cite two modern unpopular war examples. The first is in 1952, when outgoing President Harry Truman was overseeing the Korean War. Once Eisenhower and Stevenson were nominated, Truman basically had his hands tied on ending the stalemate. But, that only lasted for three months. In 1968, Lyndon Johnson faced a firestorm over Vietnam and withdrew from the race, but he still had the Presidency. His withdrawal seemed to remove his effectiveness as Commander in Chief, but he still had the bully pulpit of the Presidency until Nixon and Humphrey were nominated.

Now, President Bush faces going into to 2008 with a crisis in the financial markets and the War on Terror and Iraq. Once the nominees are in place, logical reasoning between the President and the Congress will likely give way to political grandstanding. Further, in this modern age, the nominees will take even the bully pulpit away from the President as they show up on talk shows, send out emails and run ads.

The problem is, only the sitting President and Congress can actually do something about the nation’s problems. The nominees will be well known commentators, with their operatives in both camps.

One has to wonder how history would be different if the current way we pick the President was in place throughout the nation’s life. Would someone like Lincoln, who was homely and high pitched in speech, even have a chance? Would someone like Franklin Roosevelt, who had health issues, be able to endure the campaign?

Then there is the governing part. Several Presidents of the United States have worked with Congress to make large historic moves during there last year or two in office. Could James Monroe sell the Monroe Doctrine with his potential successors hammering him in debates? Could Thomas Jefferson have been able to cobble together the coalition that banned the importation of slaves in an election year as he did in 1808? Could Theodore Roosevelt finish up the Panama Canal and send the naval fleet on a world tour that forever changed how America’s military power was respected around the world?

We in the United States are the only democracy in the world in which it takes so long and costs so much to choose our political leader. Making the political season longer might appeal to some, especially those who make money off of it. But it seems to do little to help problems gets solved and it seems to make more and more people tune out. It also gives fewer candidates a real chance at the nomination. The thing is too drawn out, and I believe, hurts us more than helps us.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Then and now heroes the same

You know them as Grandpa or Uncle. They are the old heroes of World War II. They won the day at D-Day and at the Battle of the Bulge. They loved Hank Williams, the old one. They lived Hank’s “Honky Tonk Blues.”

But those men, the men who held fast in what some call the nations darkest hour, are dying out. They are now old men. But, they were once men who fought for their country and returned home.

And what did they return home to build? America as we know it. The grandfather, the father, the kindly old uncles, all put away the horrors of war and rolled up their sleeves up again to build up this nation in the factories and the like .

They did so for the most part without any complaint. They had no idea what post dramatic stress disorder was. They simply got over the horrors of battle and lived on to build the nation.

Now, as those men are dying out, the United States faces a new enemy, one just as evil as Hitler. It is Islamic Fascism. The Islamic Fascists want us to die just because we do not believe in the same religion that they do.

The question is will the political operatives in this generation allow the heroes of today to live up the generation before them, or with politicians, such as Speaker Pelosi, make our heroes feel ashamed for standing and fighting for American values? As the War on Terror rages on, in Iraq and beyond, where is the celebration of the heroes?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Governor Sanford appears to have no relevance in the Genaral Assembly

It is no news that Governor Sanford has had a hard time dealing with the legislature of South Carolina. Despite agreement on most issues, and the Governor offering some great ideas for consideration, the two political entities just have not been able to get along.

Those on the legislative side cite the Governor’s lack of personal political skills. Things like aloofness from legislators and getting into primary races come to mind. One former legislator made it clear to me that Governor Sanford and his people were just “clueless” in knowing how to work well with other elected officials.

Friday’s vote revealed how deep Governor Sanford and his people have hurt the Governor’s office’s influence in the General Assembly. It is not that the Governor’s endorsed candidate, Charleston County Councilman Tim Scott did not win the bid to replace Thomas Ravenel as State Treasurer. It is the fact that not one member of the General Assembly stepped forward to even nominate the Governor’s choice for the job. That was a stinging blow the Governor’s credibility in dealing with the General Assembly.

More recent factors might have added to the now five plus year conflict between the Governor and the General Assembly. When a a blogger, who was once an employee of the Governor’s office, along with another blogger, passed on “rumors” about now Treasurer Converse Chellis days before the vote, political insiders and commentators smelled a smear campaign being launched. To some, it seemed unusual that a blogger with ties to the Governor could just innocently pass on a rumor about a sexual harassment lawsuit. The high road that Mark Sanford and his people always claim to hold in politics seemed to be gone. They seemed to be on the political low road.

The result was, as stated before, not one single member of the General Assembly stood up for the Governor’s candidate.

The Governor’s shrill response through a press release that seemed to be written before the vote even happened summed up his growing irrelevance in getting real things done in his remaining time in South Carolina.

It is a fascinating political paradox. The people of South Carolina elected Mark Sanford by solid margins to the office of Governor, but they also elected most of their members of the General Assembly by the same solid margins. So, politically, Mark Sanford seems strong. But, on the governing side of the politician’s equation, he is all but done, because the equally politically strong General Assembly simply does not want to deal with the Governor at any serious level.

The Governor is still Governor, and as such can do things like organize the state’s emergency responses, commute some death sentences, travel to promote economic development, and do other various administrative and public relations acts. The Governor can also us his office as a bully pulpit for his ideas. But, the actions of the General Assembly on Friday, August 3, 2007 make clear that the Governor has a very slim chance of getting substantial legislative packages through the General Assembly for the remainder of his time in office. The Governor’s response to those acts makes clear that he does not understand his situation or how to remedy it.

It is unfortunate. For it seems the personal stubbornness of the Governor and his people is going to prevent the substantial changes they hoped to bring about. It is ironic that the political misfortunes of a Sanford political ally, Thomas Ravenel, would make the situation so clear.