Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dawson, Sanford and the GOP's Fortune Cookie Intrigue

“Your principles mean more to you than any money or success.”

-Fortune Cookie Proverb

Miyo’s restaurant in downtown Columbia is the “It” spot for political power lunches ... and telling fortune cookies.

A half-block from the State House on South Main Street, Miyo's is where all the Jokerville insiders go to “see and be seen” between gavels, and on most legislative days you could literally call a quorum of both the House and Senate there.

Not coincidentally, a parade of short-skirted lobbyists, ambitious government staffers and quote-hungry reporters dot the restaurant’s lunch-scape, cozying up to the various powerbrokers for a favor when they're not whispering secrets about them behind their backs.

Ironically, on our last visit to Miyo's we got the fortune cookie proverb quoted above – a little crackle of honesty in an establishment that could probably cook its food in the dining area given all the hot air emanating from its regular patrons.

Sadly, far from meaning “more than any money or success,” principles are anathema to the vast majority of individuals constituting the Columbia establishment. They are akin to faded images from an old family photo album, scarcely-recognizable relics of a past that was sacrificed long ago on the altars of power, greed and convenience.

Take SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson, for example.

Just this morning, Dawson, performed another “see no evil” jig of Swiss Diplomacy in the ongoing spat between GOP Treasurer nominee Thomas Ravenel and liberal philanthropist John Rainey.

Once again, the man most responsible for electing Republicans to statewide office in 2006 allowed a left-leaning, anti-tax cut, attention-seeking blowhard to blister his party’s nominee for one of the most critical elected offices in the state – and get away with it scot-free.


Like most things in politics, it all boils down to the twin corrosives of personal power and the almighty dollar.

Katon Dawson desperately wants to become an ambassador, to trade in the pedestrian desk at his West Columbia auto parts store for the aristocratic trappings of a faraway embassy.

But to curry favor, he must continue appeasing “Bush Gods” like Karl Rove and David Wilkins, which is why doing his duty to the state party and defending Ravenel against John Rainey just won’t do.

Rainey, after all, has raised significant sums of money for the Bushies, and was recently rewarded for his efforts with a Presidential appointment to the Board of Visitors at West Point. Rainey is also the governor’s Board of Economic Advisor’s Chairman, another bought-and-paid-for honorarium he has parlayed into solidifying his GOP “untouchable” status.

Is that status deserved? We'll let you decide.

In three-plus years at the helm of the BEA, Rainey hasn’t even come close to accurately predicting South Carolina’s incoming revenues. In fact, he’s missed the mark by $800 million.

Rainey defends himself by citing the gross overstatements of revenue that were epidemic during the Hodges administration, but there’s clearly an ulterior method to his misinformed madness.

Had Rainey’s revenue estimates been on the mark, Gov. Mark Sanford would have had a slam dunk case for the job-creating income tax cuts that he pushed so aggressively during the first two years of his administration.

Instead, the Rainey-led BEA low-balled the numbers, and unleashed supposedly neutral State Economist Bill Gillespie to wage nonstop warfare against the governor’s proposed tax cuts.

Gillespie’s weapon of choice? The class warfare argument so frequently employed by the liberal establishment any time conservative Republicans seek to stimulate the economy by cutting taxes. Lapped up eagerly by The State newspaper’s Jennifer Talhelm, every utterance from Gillespie merited another front page story attacking the governor’s wisdom in reducing what is effectively the highest income tax rate in the Southeast.

With the media marching in goose step with Rainey’s BEA, Democrats and anti-Sanford Republicans in the General Assembly, the governor’s tax cuts never had a chance.

One would think that the governor – who desperately needs Ravenel’s vote on the State Budget and Control Board (not to mention another pro-growth Republican in statewide elected office), would have long ago figured out “Who’s Zooming Who?” in this insider intrigue.

Inexplicably, he hasn’t.

In fact, the deafening silence coming from the governor’s office throughout the Rainey-Ravenel exchange is even more disheartening than Chairman Dawson’s tepid support.

Does the governor want to continue going it alone, ramming his head against the institutional wall in Columbia with nothing to show for it? Or could it be that the prospect of another strong fiscal conservative with a statewide bully pulpit somehow threatens the “Maverick Monopoly” he’s carved out for himself?

Despite a double-digit lead in the polls and a nonexistent Democratic challenger, Sanford continues to cite the November election as the root of his lethargy, promising to make things right once his second term has been secured.

Dawson has no such crutch to lean on.

November 7 will soon have come and gone, but no matter what the outcome, Dawson and Sanford have proven that when the rubber hit the road, money and success appear to have meant more to them than their principles.

As a result, we continue to have a government that spends too much, gives back too little and encourages a cycle of dependency that keeps our state at the bottom of the national barrel.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its hard for us to stomach this now that we know you are getting paid for it.

11:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said!

This governor has the money, the goodwill and the polling number to elect a complete slate of Republicans to help him with his self appointed task. Instead, he has sucked the money out of all races, and guards it and its ability to bring votes for the Republican constitutional officers.

If Sanford wants an admirable political legacy…he needs success. His first term shows he needs help…and now it seems he has decided to forgo the opportunity to gain that help, and run selfishly on his own.

Bad move…very bad move.

11:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wilford look at the upside. they have something else to say now when refutation is impossible instead of "He Beats Women."

11:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you say that Sanford doesn't care about principles? If anything he cares about them way too much.

2:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is all about principals just not those who support them.

4:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

principals or principles?

4:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find these points to be perfectly rational irregardless of Mr. Folks affiliations or contractual arrangements. Regularly it seems to me that these articles address the true nature of the subjects discussed, however much commenters might wish to make the writer the subject of discussion.

4:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey dip****, Dawson doesn't have any stores in West Columbia. Go see him on Calhoun if you've got the stones nancy-boy.

8:51 PM

Blogger faithinsound said...

Dear Anon,

We prefer Nancy girls, actually, but thanks just the same.

And while we appreciate you getting all Alpha Male on us and everything, our interest in Mr. Dawson generally concludes the moment we finish writing about Mr. Dawson.


11:10 PM

Anonymous west_rhino said...

I understnd that we could have an opening in Baghdad that would suit Katon...

11:24 AM

Blogger Bill Smith said...

Sic Willie--That is an amazing story. Rainey is a true limousine liberal and a first-class villain. Given all of his wealth and power, what does he use it for? To fight against lower taxes for Joe Sixpack. That's super, Mr. Rainey.

In the meantime, we're getting screwed by the criminal incompetence and state embarassment that is Grady Patterson. Oh well, it's not like anyone needed that pension money to retire on. We should all be thankful to Patterson for making our state pension plan worst in the nation.

But this Rainey support for Patterson--cynicism supporting senescence--would be completely unintelligible without the help of this blog. It's an ugly story, but somebody's got to tell it. Thanks.

1:06 PM

Anonymous abc said...

Very well put.

6:54 PM


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