Heard in the Echo Chamber - Volume X
Ronald Reagan he's not, but Virginia Senator George Allen might as well have ridden all "Dutch-style" into the GOP State Convention in Columbia this Saturday based on his reception.
The leading 2008 GOP Presidential prospect among the still-potent "Anybody But McCain" crowd, Allen (pictured left, all Dutch-style) wasn't so much imitating Reagan yesterday as he was your friendly neighbor butcher, serving up slab after slab of social conservative red meat to the far-right activist wing of the South Carolina Republican Party. As it turns out the natives were quite hungry indeed ...
Perhaps sensing momentum in light of Massachusetts governor (and fellow fire-and-brimstoner) Mitt Romney's well-publicized pitch for universal health care last week, Allen railed on the usual suspects - immigrants, bureaucrats and terrorists.
To the shock of no one, it turns out Republicans in South Carolina don't like ... you guessed it, immigrants, bureaucrats or terrorists. (Well, Republican legislators are OK with bureaucrats) ...
Senator Allen's speech was a stark contrast to remarks made just 24 hours earlier by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who struck a much more fiscally conservative tone in his address. Reminding convention-goers that hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, like South Carolina, is also experiencing double-digit revenue growth, Barbour proceeded to subtly contrast his state's modest spending increases with the pork orgy currently taking place in Columbia.
Not surprisingly, it was a message Gov. Mark Sanford made sure wasn't lost on the assembled delegates.
CULT OF SANFORD-ALITY
Speaking of Sanford, the governor was the subject of a Clinton-esque spin video unveiled at the weekend convention by SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson - ostensibly to the governor's great surprise.
A fairly lengthy series of picturesque, family-themed images set to triumphal, West Wing-style music, the film - much like the governor himself - was very well-received by the audience, although several veteran Sanford-ites were less than thrilled with the governor's speech.
Focusing more on the "I'm tight with Lindsey Graham" theme than his bread-and-butter message of economic competitiveness and fiscal conservatism, Sanford's speech still went over a heckuva lot better than Dr. Oscar Lovelace's remarks, which managed only a smattering of polite applause.
Note to Dr. Lovelace: The South Carolina Democratic Convention won't be held until May.
Charleston Post and Courier wunderkid John Frank is reporting that Lt. Governor Andre Bauer's recent speeding mishaps have already cost him dearly with South Carolina voters.
According to Frank's weekly "Capital Notebook" column, Bauer's favorable rating is down to a paltry 21%, with his negatives more than doubling to 41%. Worse still for Bauer, Lite Gov Candidate Mike Campbell is enjoying a 38% to 19% lead in their head-to-head primary matchup - adding a healthy 15% cushion to what was only a 4%, inside-the-margins lead two weeks ago.
Even the most ardent Andre opponents admitted shock at the numbers.
"We figured he'd just shot himself in the foot," one Campbell supporter told FITS. "We had no idea he'd gone and completely blown his brains out."
RACIAL PROBLEM FOR SCGOP?
While perhaps not as immediately grabbing as the Bauer poll revelation, Greenville News columnist Dan Hoover nonetheless dropped a bombshell of his own this weekend on the Palmetto political landscape, a story that could have far-reaching negative repercussions for the SCGOP in its occasional efforts at wooing minorities.
According to Hoover's Sunday column, Rep. Gloria Arias Haskins was not invited to present the party's annual Terry Haskins Award, which is named after her late husband, because of her ethnicity.
Rep. Haskins, who hails from South America, has presented the award in each of the previous four years.
Never one to hold her tongue, Haskins told Hoover she wasn't invited to present the award "because there's an immigration debate and I'm a face of Hispanics in the Republican Party."
SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson then compounded the problem by using the "I didn't see her" defense, precisely the kind of response that will warm minorities' hearts.
With the predominantly Republican Upstate home to one of the fastest-growing Hispanic populations anywhere in South Carolina, it's difficult to overstate the problems the SCGOP just created for itself in its own backyard.
We'd start brushing up on your Spanglish, Mr. Chairman.
PLAINS OF THE SERENGETI?
Typically elephants and rubber chickens are the animals du jour at Republican functions like this weekend's state convention.
Not this year.
First, we had Commissioner of Agriculture candidate William Bell showing up on horseback. Then came the real treat, an unidentified indivudal who showed up in a Rhino suit to hand out anti-Bob Staton literature.
RINO - which stands for "Republican in Name Only" - is a label that has dogged Staton since he first announced his campaign for State Superintendent of Education earlier this year.
Sadly, one RINO was quite insufficient to accomodate this gathering. Given the State Republican Party's tragic ineptitude when it comes to electing true fiscal conservatives to the state legislature, a herd of 100 probably wouldn't have done the trick.
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
It was a tough week for our colleauges over at the LaurinLine, and no, we're not talking about USC's increasingly worthless law degree.
Apparently, a Russian-based "Trojan Horse" virus infiltrated Queen Laurin's inner sanctum last week, blocking her website and attempting to spread itself to anyone who tried accessing its pages.
Fortunately for the Queen - and for we her loyal blogospheric subjects - Laurin & Co. succeeded in putting the smack down on the nefarious intruder. The Stiletto Mafia immediately celebrated with a four-part a cappella rendition of the LaurinLine national anthem.
"Oh LaurinLine, our home and native land. Oh LaurinLine ... "
S---, wait a minute, that's Canada. This immigration debate has FITS all kinds of confused.
Anyway, until next week ... be heard. Oh, and don't go "Betty Ryberg" (see below) on anybody, either.