The Cornbread Dressing Award for Career Achievement goes to outgoing State Senator Jake Knotts. Sure, Knotts made a mess of things in his legal efforts to get Katrina Shealy off the primary ballot, and that made him a candidate for the Holiday Ham Award as well, but we look at things as a whole. Shealy got on the Fall ballot and defeated Knotts at the November polls. But, let's measure Knotts on his entire career. Knotts was accessible to South Carolinians inside and outside his district and was always good for straight politically incorrect remarks. Knotts stood for the everyman, the little guy, the redneck, the ne'er do well. Further, Knotts was not the product of out of state big money or well paid handlers. He did his own work and he was who he was, like him or not, honestly. The State Senate filled with handlers and out of state money whispering in State Senators ears will miss an honest voice like Knotts, whatever his faults. VUI thanks Knotts for his service in the South Carolina House and Senate and wishes him well in his retirement.
The Cranberry Sauce Award for achievement in local politics goes to Eight Circuit Solicitor Elect David Stumbo. Stumbo took a big risk taking on the political establishment in Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens and Newberry counties when he left his job in the South Carolina Attorney General's office to take on the politically entrenched and well connected incumbent Solicitor Jerry Peace in the Republican Primary. Stumbo rightly saw that people in that area wanted a fighter for justice, not the status quo. Stumbo defeated Peace in the primary and then a Democratic opponent in the Fall. Stumbo has goodwill and support that transcends party politics in that area and his integrity will be a breath of fresh air to that area.
The Fruitcake Award goes to all those people on Twitter, Facebook and the blogs who just kept spewing nonsense about President Obama and former Governor Romney during the campaign. You have heard the phrase, "that guy is as nutty as a fruitcake," well, read some of the outlandish stuff people posted about both Presidential candidates and you can see how nutty that they were. Donald Trump was the leader in that he just embarrassed himself when it came to President Obama. But, there were so many others. That is what is both amusing and disappointing People that we personally know, people we thought were sane until we read the nonsense they posted and reposted on social media. They earned the title "fruitcake." with their nonsense.
Speaking of nonsense on social media, the self chest thumping by staffers and by the man himself gives Congressman Jeff Duncan of the Third District of South Carolina the Holiday Ham Award for self promotion. Duncan got 60 plus percent of the vote in a heavy GOP district against a convicted felon who did not run a campaign. From some of the remarks of his supporters and even some of his staff, you would think the man won a dogfight against a formidable foe. It was not the case. He ran against a joke. But, the joke got bigger in how his minions claimed how great the victory was. To add to it, Duncan joined the Lindsey Graham for Senate campaign by bashing UN Ambassador Susan Rice. Sure, it is his right to do so, but he formed a petition on Facebook to oppose her nomination as Secretary of State. That might seem okay to some, but think on this. The President has not nominated the woman for that job. The House has nothing to do with confirming appointments to that job, and the day the Congressman launched his all important petition was the same day his leader, Speaker Boehner was meeting with President Obama to discuss something that the US House actually has something to do with, the upcoming fiscal cliff. That's a triple dose of self promotion worthy of a Holiday Ham.
Speaking of President Obama, lets get to the Golden Drumstick Award for political achievement. That goes to the President. A struggling economy, all those fruitcakes on social media, nearly a billion dollars spent to derail his campaign, some rather ugly racial undercurrents, and still the man won re-election. The President showed that he is a smart pol. He got Clinton involved. He appealed to middle class values. He overcame a dismal first debate. Whether you like him or not, the President is good at the game. And, he showed himself to the best at it this year.
That brings us the Political Turkey of the Year. That award goes to the political figure who really fowled things up. Romney and his inner circle might contend that Karl Rove deserves such because Rove blew $300 million on a loss. But, the real turkey is South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. No Governor in South Carolina's history, or the history of any state in the United States for that matter, has ever oversaw a Cabinet whose failures did so much harm to its people than Governor Haley. Millions of people were harmed by the hacking scandal under the Governor's watch now and for years to come. Millions of people, and hundreds of thousands of South Carolina businesses have had their private information that they trusted the state government cabinet department under Governor Haley to keep safe compromised.
What is really galling is how the Governor shirks taking responsibility and hides behind a so called credit monitoring program that the state is paying for that is just window dressing. Indeed, Governor Haley seems like the farmer, who after his cows went away, decided that those who advised him to spend money on fences might be right after all. But, make no mistake, the Department of Revenue is in her cabinet, under her control, and the it was her choice to secure the information as she saw fit, or did not. The harm done to the people of South Carolina will be long lasting and is unprecedented, For that, Governor Nikki Haley richly deserves being dubbed VUI's Political Turkey of the Year.