Democrat and Independent Thinker..."The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." -Nietzsche

Commenting on many things, including..."A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from." - Keith Olbermann

Friday, August 17, 2007

Rudy! and Mitt! and South Carolina

I really cannot pretend to know who South Carolina Republicans will favor in 2008 overall. The wingnuts in this state are unfathomable to Democrats here. I'll give it a shot, nevertheless.

But, I will bet you dimes to dollars that it will not be Rudy Giuliani. One of the reasons will be articles like this in the New Yorker:

The South Carolina State House, a grand, copper-domed structure in downtown Columbia, is a showplace for the state’s long history of hellbent defiance. The most prominent feature on the grounds is a monument to fallen Confederate soldiers, whose virtues “plead for just judgment of the cause in which they perished.” Beside it, atop a thirty-foot pole, waves the Rebel flag, the object of fierce national debate a decade ago, when it flew above the capitol dome, and no less conspicuous now, in its new location. Among the nearby statuary stands a life-size likeness of Benjamin R. (Pitchfork Ben) Tillman, the four-term United States senator who led the movement that disenfranchised black voters in 1895 and instituted Jim Crow. Inside the building, cast-iron staircases rise to an elegant lobby, and portraits honor the men who shaped the state’s querulous history, including John C. Calhoun, who contrived the rationale—nullification—for Southern secession, and Strom Thurmond, who led the South out of the Democratic Party. The lobby opens at either end to the state’s two legislative chambers, which, in March, ratified an amendment to the state constitution that bans not only gay marriage but gay civil unions. That month, the state house of representatives also passed a bill requiring any woman considering abortion to reflect upon an ultrasound image of the fetus.

It was here that Rudolph Giuliani, New York’s thrice-married, anti-gun, pro-gay, pro-choice former mayor, found himself one morning in April, in what appeared to be a critical moment in his young campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination. The previous day, during a campaign stop in Florida, he was asked by CNN’s Dana Bash if he supported the public funding of abortions. Giuliani seemed flustered by the question and finally answered, “If that’s the status of the law, I would, yes.”

Even before Giuliani began his run for the Presidency, the consensus, sounded in news columns, blogs, and political journals, was that he could not survive scrutiny of his political heterodoxy and his personal imperfections by the Republican Party’s conservative base.

Now, as Giuliani made his way into the capitol, his candidate smile firmly fixed, he was met by reporters. “Mayor, you talk about being a straight shooter,” one said. “Is this position you have on abortion something that’s going to shoot a hole in a key Republican plank?” [...]

At Magnolia’s, Giuliani’s advance people tried to fill time. Barry Wynn, his South Carolina campaign chairman, talked up his candidate’s chances, solicited donations, and took questions from the waiting group seated before him. Someone asked what effect the Christian right would have on Giuliani’s prospects. “Good question,” Wynn replied. He lives in the Greenville-Spartanburg area, the home of Bob Jones University. In South Carolina, another way of saying Christian right is “Greenville Republicans,” the group credited with John McCain’s undoing in his 2000 run against George W. Bush. Wynn’s uncle was Lester Maddox, the axe-handle-wielding Atlanta segregationist who became governor of Georgia. Wynn himself is a former state Party chairman. “I’ve already talked to a lot of people I consider very hard-core social conservatives, part of the religious right, who are supporting Rudy Giuliani,” Wynn said.
Lordy, where do I begin? Let me just go paragraph by paragraph.

First of all, let me just say that I was at the state house about a year ago. The dome cannot be missed. It can be seen many city blocks away. If the damned old Rebel flag was still flying there, you could see it quite far away. I looked for the Confederate soldier statue, which just about every southern city of middling size has on main street, and I couldn't find it. So, no, it is not "no less conspicuous now". It is considerably less conspicuous unless you just go traipsing around the grounds hunting for it.

Yeah, there probably is some statue of "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman who was a racist, a former governor, and a four term U.S. Senator but the truth is that no matter how he is demonized, and perhaps rightly so, he was a man of his time. That time being the freakin' 1890's. You know, a hundred years ago!

Don't talk about John C. Calhoun. Just. Don't. He was the Vice President of the United States, after all, and he wasn't voted in by just South Carolina.

Yeahyeahyeah, Strom Thurmond, blahblahblah. For the first 50 years of his life, he pandered to the racists even though most everyone knew he wasn't that much of one himself. For the last 50+ years, he was a burden to good, real Democrats in the state but all in all, was a pretty good Senator to the people of South Carolina.

Yep, they did do that banning gay marriage thing which totally sucked. I haven't been able to find the voting records for the legislature on anything, much less this, as the Republican's have been doing a bang up job of keeping their doings under wraps as much as possible. But, just off the top of my head, I'm betting that the opposition didn't get much traction because a whole lot, if not the majority, of Democratic legislators in the state are black and anti-gayness is preached in black congregations quite virulently here as it is in much of the country.

The House did vote on that ridiculous bill about abortion, was roundly and passionately lambasted for it all across the state, and the Senate had enough sense to effectively gut it.

That's right. Anti-abortion forces are not all that powerful here except in the most wingnuttery factions.

So... you might be saying about now, well then, if so, then Giuliani must have a good chance in SC.

Uh. No.

"Rudolph Giuliani, New York’s thrice-married, anti-gun, pro-gay, pro-choice former mayor"

of New York-fucking City!

(Hey! Don't pounce on me! I love New York City. Minus the Yankees and the Mets.)

I'm just sayin'.

I'm saying that I don't care how many people fawn over him while he's down here, say nice things about how they're going to vote for him, blahblah, it ain't gonna happen when they enter that voting booth!

In most cases, they are just being polite. Yep. Polite. They don't want him to get his feelings hurt and they want him to feel welcome.

They are not going to elect a philanderer who's on this third marriage to clearly a money grubbing social climber divorcee (there is almost nothing worse to be in this state), who is going to try to take away their GUNS!

And they are damned sure not going to vote for a New Yawk City Mayor!

Articles like the one in The New Yorker are just going to bring that reality home to them.

Now, let me add a caveat here. I'm talking about South Carolinians. Not transplants. Not second generation or probably even third generation transplants. Basically, if your granddaddy wasn't born and raised here, you aren't considered a "real" South Carolinian. You're just a guest. To be treated politely, even indulged, definitely excused, but never to be taken seriously in polite company. In my experience, by far the largest segment of the "religious right" are not native South Carolinians. They are transplants brought in by Bob Jones University or the spawn of those transplants. The natives that are the "religious right" are the holy rollers, pentecostals, Church of Christ country folks who don't know any better and aren't all that active politically or socially, and even those who are comprise only a very small eeny-meeny micro-segment. The vast, vast majority of native Southern Baptist South Carolinians are not that "right", not even that "religious" but only devoted church goers, and don't even know what evangelical means.

Seriously. I'm not kidding!

I just had to explain what evangelical means to my sister who is a lifelong devoted Southern Baptist two or three time a week church-goer and she's not a dummy either! She's very intelligent and would no sooner go to one of those mega-churches (we have one or two that do their business in big auditoriums) than she would go to the moon. A really big traditional church, sure, like Taylors First Baptist where the minister is the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention. But, they are moderate traditionalists. They don't run around on a stage with a microphone headset screaming at people that they've gotta preach the gospel or go to hell. That is Bob Jones territory and natives avoid it like the plague unless they are just ignorant and misguided (as some probably are).

Unfortunately, there's no getting around the fact that these transplanted BJU'er's are allowed to vote but I don't think the natives are outnumbered yet. So, no, it just ain't gonna happen for Rudy in SC, I don't think.

Now, I could just stop here, but since I'm at it, let's talk Mitt!

I frequently take casual polls of all my family, friends, and acquaintances on Rudy! and Mitt! Some are Dems, some are Repubs, but all are born and bred South Carolinians.

(Not my choice... I've lived all over the country and I like people from all over, it's just that here at home it's what I fall into, if you know what I mean.)

Here is how that conversation goes, invariably:

Me: "So, y'all think Rudy is going to win in South Carolina?"

Them: "Bwaaahahahahahaahaha!"

Me: "Uh, I guess not. Why do you think?"

Them: "He's a low-down cheater! His kids won't even talk to him! He's an ass! He's a New York Yankee! He'll try to abolish guns!"

Me: "So, how about Mitt Romney? You think he'll win SC?"

Them: "Bwaaaahahahahahahahahhahhahahahahhahahahahahahaha!"

Me: "Uh, I guess not. Why do you think?"

Them: "He's Mormon!"

Me: "Is that enough to keep him from winning SC?"

Them: "Bwaaaahahahhahahhaaahahahahahahahahahhaahhahhaaha! He's crazy! He's in a cult! He wears special underwear, for God's sake!"

OK. So that is how it is. Now you can say how awful, how prejudiced, how backward, how whatever-you-want-to-say, and I really wouldn't argue with you. But, that is how it is.

We are an idiosyncratic people here in South Carolina. Just like Vermonters, Mainers, Texans, Bostoners, Philadelphians, or wherever else in this country that is a little eccentric, peculiar, and out of the mainstream.

But that is just how it is.

What Republican has a chance in SC? Hmmm. Many men will like Fred Thompson, I'm betting. But his wife is a fatal flaw when it comes to South Carolinian women. Women here look on her and then look on both of them with disgust. And they will likely deride their menfolk who favor him. They may vote for him, but it will be sheepishly.

A lot of the women may actually like Tancredo. Huckabee* may charm them but he's too extreme on the abortion issue.

The secret truth about abortion here is that those who actually get abortions are more likely to be from "good Republican" households, or the daughters of those households who have been so kept in the dark about sex that they end up getting pregnant. The poor just end up having the children. And, heck, alot of the dumb redneck poor vote Republican anyway. Most middle-class Democrat families have well informed daughters unlikely to get pregnant.

If McCain re-positions himself on Iraq, he can and will win them all back if he gives it half a shot. The immigration issue hurt him badly, but the war is a lot more unpopular here than most would think, especially considering the response of the wingnut crowd in the SC Republican debate. If he can overcome his immigration fiasco, and take a more reasoned approach to Iraq, he will take SC Republicans hands down.

UPDATE: Changed from Brownback to Huckabee. What was I thinking? As if there's a dime's worth of difference.