We at VUI have been bombarded with reports from folks that said they saw firsthand Governor Haley getting drinks at Hilton Head Island last weekend during the golf event there. Yawn. Now, other blogs and others are saying members of Haley’s security detail were getting drinks for her and her party. Some folks out there are really upset with that rumor.
We at VUI are not. What we are upset is with the notion that drinking causes Nikki Haley to make boneheaded decisions such as breaking the state’s word with Amazon and placing her husband on a committee to select the next SLED chief. Don’t go blaming that kind of thing on strong drink. Next thing you know Haley will have rumors she was in the liquor cabinet when she fired Darla Moore from the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees. If Haley endorses Donald Trump for President the legislature might have to step in and ban all hard drink from the Governor’s Mansion.
Here is why we at VUI don‘t worry so much about strong drink and political leaders. Though the late Strom Thurmond never took a drink, most of the giants in South Carolina politics have. Indeed, James F. Byrnes, perhaps the most influential South Carolinian to ever live, with his roles in the US Senate, as Secretary of State, as Supreme Court Justice and close adviser to both Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, and late in life Governor of South Carolina, was known to cry out to his wife, “Maude, get me a drink” when something flabbergasted him. But, whatever he drank, he had some good sense on matters.
So have so many other Governors and state legislators. Governors and legislators from this state have drank a shot right before they attended church on Sunday morning. They have used their SLED details to get them a drink or drive them home. Some folks close to them see them as the choice of the people and help them through their vices because of the stress of the jobs they hold. Others see it as simple duty. People called such things the good ole boy system. And, like it or not, it produced some leaders who did some good things for this state and it also enabled some folks who had no business with public power. But, it was what it was.
The problem Governor Haley faces and why so many get so upset over such side issues is that she campaigned saying she would be so different. Governor Haley’s campaigned created a higher standard she has to live up to. Let’s be frank and fair. If Henry McMaster or Gresham Barrett had won the GOP nomination and the Governor’s office, someone fetching them a drink would not make anyone‘s, even the bloggers’ political radar. But, Haley was nominated and elected as the wronged woman who was good and pure and who wanted to do right. Now, she has to live up to that standard she created more than anyone could imagine. That is the reality of politics.
But, again we at VUI say, with some personal knowledge of the subject, one can not blame strong drink on really stupid stuff. It is easy to. It is easy to have people do it for you. But, in the end, mistakes are all your own. We all would love to blame some guy named Jack Daniels for our mistakes, but we can not. And, when history shows that previous holders of your office were drunker than a Talladega race fan and made sounder decisions, you got to rethink how you are doing things. Think on it. Winston Churchill stayed drunk on brandy most of his life according to anti alcohol advocates, but he saved the free world. Abraham Lincoln, according to some, was fond of whiskey with water, and it was even served to him when he briefly sat in the Southern White House in Richmond. Franklin Roosevelt liked his martinis. Harry Truman had to have his “eye opener” every morning which was a shot of bourbon. Even Ronald Reagan liked a “cold beer.” So this notion of a leader drinking making them not able to do the job is incorrect.
But, drinker or no drinker, Haley is nowhere near that class of leader. As such, the great drinking leaders who actually served the people should not be insulted by those who contend that whatever the Governor drinks or does not drink makes her make such boneheaded decisions in office.
And, people should give those security folks around the Governor a pass. Those folks are doing their jobs. Sometimes those jobs are not pretty. But, we the people of South Carolina, elected those they are charged to serve and protect. Give them a break. Those folks are just doing their jobs. Whether or not Governor Haley is doing her job is something we all can judge come 2014. But, her SLED protective detail ought to be left out of the political debate. They are just doing their duty, like so many before them have.