Heard in the Echo Chamber - Volume VI
Just call it 'March Madness' ...
Although precious little actually got done at the South Carolina State House this past week, there was (as usual) more than enough politics to go around.
You know this week's installment of "Heard in the Echo Chamber" will take you there (like the Staple Singers), but first let's get the skinny on some national news that could have a profound impact on the Palmetto political scene.
NEW HAMPSHIRE NO MO?
According to this morning's Washington Post, Democrats may be close to ditching the Granite State (above) from its pole position as the nation's first Presidential primary. In fact the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee (a.k.a. the former cast of "What's Happening Now!") approved a resolution this weekend that would place two primaries between the Jan. 14, 2008 Iowa Caucuses and the Jan. 22 New Hampshire primary. Interested states have a month to submit their proposals, but word on the street is that South Carolina has already made the short list.
Needless to say, the response from politicos in "Live Free or Die Land" has been slightly less than accomodating. New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner is threatening to "bump up" his state's primary date all by himself if other states are moved ahead in the pecking order, prompting the party to threaten refused recognition of New Hampshire's delegates at the 2008 National Convention.
Drug addiction counselors in New Hampshire also warned the state primary of the dangers associated with "bumping."
No word yet from President Jed Bartlett, a New Hampshire native, on this attempt by his own party to devalue his home state's primary, but S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Joe Erwin was ecstatic upon hearing the news.
"We're used to making the short bus," Erwin said. "Making the short list would mean we're really, really special."
GRAND OLD PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS
Dems weren't the only ones making presidential noises over the weekend - and no, we're not talking about the forty minutes President George W. Bush spent on the executive crapper Sunday pondering his sub-40% approval rating.
We're talking about the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, which convened over the weekend in Memphis, TN to gauge activist support for the current slate of would-be GOP presidential hopefuls.
Not surprisingly, hometown Senator Bill Frist won the SRLC's straw poll with 37% of the vote, but apparently Frist did little to excite the assembled delegates with his speech. That distinction went to Virginia Sen. George Allen, who may as well have been a butcher with all the red meat he was throwing social conservatives. Arizona Senator and current GOP frontrunner John McCain threw a wrench in the straw poll's validity by instructing his supporters to vote for George W. Bush, which 10% of them did. McCain still got 5% in his own right for a combined total of 15%, placing him just ahead of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who got 14%.
FITS has learned that McCain South Carolina guru Richard Quinn was in attendance at the event, as was former gubernatorial Communications Director Chris Drummond.
That's actually what the Charleston Post and Courier wanted to call its new Sunday political column by State House Reporter (and now political columnist) John Frank. Fortunately for those of us who detest double entendres, the floppy-haired Boy Wonder of South Carolina political reporting got his way and the demonstrably less-cheesy title "Capital Notebook" prevailed.
Maybe he told them newspapers don't have vocal chords.
Let's give Frank some props, though. His ascension to column status is a big deal for anybody, let alone a 24-year old 'youngin' who's only been on the beat for just over a year. Frank now joins such sacred journalistic cows as The State's Lee Bandy and the Greenville News' Dan Hoover in boasting his own direct line to 100,000+ readers every Sunday, an opportunity few reporters get and even fewer master.
Frank's first shot out of the gate is a well-wagered, well-questioned look into the ongoing dispute between Gov. Mark Sanford and the House Ways & Means committee over the ballooning state budget - a feud he chronicles with sufficient verve and enough creative zingers directed at both sides to preserve his journalistic street cred. To read Frank's inaugural "Capital Notebook" in its entirety, click on the link below:
FITS senior editor Laurie D. would also like to point out to all our female readers that the link includes an e-mail and direct office phone number for this former No. 7 on the "Who's Hot at the State House" list.
It takes a big girl to admit when she's wrong, and FITS is a big girl. And what is it all the kids are singing these days, "Big girls need love, too?"
Anyway, since it's never happened before and is highly unlikely to ever happen again, FITS feels it necessary to admit we were wrong and formally apologize to our blog buddies Semper Libertas and Palmetto Pirate over at Free Carolina.
We've railed on them in the past, but these guys had one of the funniest posts ever last week, turning Aaron Sorkin's dramatic courtroom dialogue between Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise from A Few Good Men into a parody dialogue between Mark Sanford and House Ways & Means Chairman Dan "Egg-tooth" Cooper. If you think you can "Handle the Tooth," you've got to check this hilarious post out:
Now if you boys can only find a way to build an article around the Tom Cruise underwear scene in Risky Business, FITS associate editor Deb N. says the hatchet will officially be buried (provided pictures are included).
GILDA AWARD POSTPONED
Given that somebody apparently shoved state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter into some drywall last week (accidentally, according to police reports), FITS has officially postponed presentation of its weekly "I Got My Four Eyes on You, Baby" Award until next Sunday. We would like to extend to our favoritest Representative of all-time our best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.
Until next week ... be heard.