Today’s Phrase for Latin Lovers

Rex in Regno suo superiores habet Deum et Legem.

Translation:
The King in his Realm hath two superiors: God and the Law. -- Henry Care (1646-1688) on English liberties and the Magna Carta

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Ancient History

|Political Prudence

Out-of-State Hacks Resort to Documentable Lies to Try to Ding Sanford in #SC1 Race

The lousy reporting on the congressional race in South Carolina’s 1st District for the seat vacated by Tim Scott (whom Governor Nikki Haley named to replace Senator Jim DeMint, who retired to head the Heritage Foundation) has reached a nadir of facts and truthfulness. In place of honest reporting, national audiences are treated to half-truths, innuendos and outright lies. Reporters and bloggers that have little knowledge of South Carolina politics or Lowcountry issues repeatedly pop off with downright laughably misconstrued “facts” to arrive at opinions that have little basis in reality.

Let’s take just one example to illustrate my point. From the illustrious Slate Magazine, we have king of the Journolist, Dave Weigel, doing his darnedest to tear down Mark Sanford’s whopping 53 to 40 lead over challenger Curtis Bostic.

Here’s the opening paragraph to Weigel’s gem of corrupt, lying propaganda:

Last night, the two Republican contenders for South Carolina’s open House seat finally debated one-on-one. Mark Sanford hadn’t bothered to attend every primary debate. He had a clear path to a runoff berth, and he eventually won 37 percent of the vote as a team of munchkins split the rest. But Curtis Bostic, the conservative former Charleston councilman who eked into the runoff, had worked all of the GOP’s low-profile events and debates. He was tested, ready.

Pure baloney, from start to finish. One of the chief complaints against Bostic in #SC1 is that he has not been showing up to events, and has been refusing to debate. Mark Sanford has been at these events, eager to answer any and all questions. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the publicly available record (easily searchable by esteemed journolisters such as Weigel himself) at the Charleston daily newspaper, The Post and Courier. Here’s the newspaper’s archive search engine. (Unfortunately the search results use temporary one-time URLs, otherwise I would provide convenient links to each article for you.)

Regarding a candidate forum on February 12th before 150 members of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, just as the quick sprint race was starting, the paper notes: “16 of 20 candidates – from the Republican, Democratic and Green parties – sat elbow to elbow on a stage inside a Charleston hotel.” The paper reports what attendee Mark Sanford said about “the one issue where [the candidates] diverged the most,” immigration, especially on Lindsey Graham’s amnesty plan:

Former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford said he didn’t support the plan.

But we never got to hear the position Curtis “Sometimes You Have to Say Yes” Bostic took on Grahamnesty that day. Why? Because, as Weigel could have seen in the paper: “Those candidates who didn’t appear Tuesday include Sullivan’s Island businessman Keith Blandford, former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, state Rep. Peter McCoy and Democratic candidate Ben Frasier.”

Okay, maybe Weigel’s opening could have just been a minor error, if Sanford then hid the rest of the campaign, resting on his name recognition, as Weigel implies. But no. Let’s check in on the other two forums to see who was there. If you took Weigel at his word, I think you’ll be surprised:

In the Post and Courier story on March 1, regarding the forum attended by both candidates Sanford and Bostic, it was a good thing Bostic showed up because in the midst of much agreement by all 15 candidates there, “Only engineer Jeff King and former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic indicated clear support for instant background checks for gun purchases.” So if Bostic’s wildest dreams were realized and he made it to the floor of the US House, he would be Mr. Yes and vote with the Democrats against the NRA and Lowcountry gun owners.

Then we have the March 7th forum hosted by the Republican Liberty Caucus. Fifteen of the 16 GOP primary candidates appeared. Guess who showed up? Mark Sanford. Guess who didn’t? That’s right. “Only former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic did not appear.”

That was the last debate prior to last night’s post-primary debate. Clearly someone gave Weigel intentionally wrong facts that he lapped up without bothering to check, or he made them up out of whole cloth, weaving a little fantasy tale for low-information voters.

[Update 3/29/13 6:20pm: I forgot to mention that Bostic has also declined to participate in a couple other one-on-one post-primary debates, including a second one by the RLC.]

Now, let’s move down in Weigel’s piece of fiction. He rates Bostic’s performance as just “okay,” while noting Sanford’s was superior. But this is just the setup to smack Sanford down again:

He was okay. Sanford absolutely outplayed him. It took nearly an hour, past a long digression about whether the candidates should do a Lincoln-Douglas style debate (the primary is in four days!), for an audience member to ask about “the elephant in the room.”

“In 2009, you broke the trust of the people of South Carolina,” said the questioner. “How do you reconcile redemption with the costs of your personal decision, which could have compromised the state and/or the party?

I don’t know what debate Weigel watched, but it wasn’t the one last night at Porter-Gaud School, where moderator David Webb, not an audience member, asked Sanford the question, as noted by the Post and Courier, The State and local journalists on Twitter. (Oddly, Weigel still repeats Webb’s quote verbatim, while attributing it to someone else.)

He closes his short and bloody piece by bookending Sanford’s response with this:

This was a friendly way to ask the question. An unfriendly way might bring up the scandal (pretty much forgotten now) of South Carolina paying for Sanford trips that turned into trysts. But a “how can we trust you” question? Easy for Sanford.

Important question, and I suspect one that I’ll wrestle with at one level or another for the rest of my life. An old timer took me aside and said, you know, if you live long enough, you’re fonna fail at something. And I failed. I failed very publicly. But, you know, in the light of failure, you know, I guess you have a choice to make. This sermon, this Sunday, he said: Do the events of your life define or refine your life? And so, in the wake of my failure, you sort of push through to finish your term. I went down to our family farm, about an hour south of here, and I had an awfully quiet and very spiritual year. And to a degree I refined it. I wallowed in it. I struggled with it. And you go through this incredible soul-searching. You probably do more soul-searching on the way down than on the way up.

Well, of course you do! This string of Dale Carnegie blather got Sanford some mild applause.

One can only presume he’s being sarcastic with his parenthetical saying the Sanford scandal has been largely forgotten. Otherwise, he must be living on another planet.

But that last line of his post is the most preposterous. “Mild” applause. See, Weigel and company would prefer that Elizabeth Colbert-Busch face a weak, relatively unknown candidate (especially outside of Charleston County, and the congressional district spreads over five counties, from the upper reaches of Berkeley County down to near the Georgia line at Beaufort). But even they know that it is extremely unlikely that Bostic could win, so when it comes down to the one issue they can use against Sanford, they are desperate to hide the deep reservoir of forgiveness that Sanford has from Lowcountry voters, stemming not just from his past political record of service to them but in his humble approach to them since his fall.

How odd that local media (no cheering section for Sanford) found it worthy to note the rousing, loud, approving sustained applause that Sanford’s answer generated:

Even operatives from the Bostic camp noted their surprise at the applause.

There you have it. Four short paragraphs and two quotes, and Weigel gets it all wrong. Well, except for his assessment that Sanford outdebated Bostic. The rest is pure hackery and lies.

So if you read other similar tales of Sanford not giving it his all to reach out to voters or not getting a good reception in response, be very, very skeptical. Check to see if it’s written by anyone that knows South Carolina, the Lowcountry and its people. If not, they may just be weaving you a fairy tale to suit their political purposes.

Update 3/29/12 8:15pm: David Weigel has conceded that he made errors in his Slate article and says that he will make corrections. The Slate post currently reflects a very small, but still very wrong update, which Weigel tweeted to me that he had made “earlier” but took a long time to show up.

The current state of the Slate post:

Weigel's Initial Correction

In it, you’ll note that in the original post, he merely ripped out the second sentence that had said Sanford hadn’t shown up: “Mark Sanford hadn’t bothered to attend every primary debate.” As a result, his post now begins by only referring to Sanford as “he,” without saying who “he” is. [And he left in the sentence saying Bostic went to all of them.]

In his italicized update, Weigel says “Bostic, too, skipped forums,” still directly implying Sanford missed some (I’ve asked him to name which ones, as I am unaware of any). His clever wording also implies that Bostic showed up more often than not. He went to one, and skipped all the rest until last night.

Parts of my conversation with @DaveWeigel:

I’ll update more later as Weigel updates his post at Slate.

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