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

Why Mark Sanford Is the Right Choice for #SC1

All right. Let’s just jump straight to the main—seemingly only—argument against electing Mark Sanford: his affair. I’m not going to rehash all the details or make excuses for him. I was devastated. But the statehouse press conference where he stepped up to the plate and poured his heart out and out and out planted a kernel of forgiveness in my heart, because unlike other politicians that give a made-for-camera bite-the-lip-and-give-a-sniffle apology, I knew Mark Sanford was completely sincere and extremely humbled. No one could possibly have given that presser and been acting. It wasn’t typical politician.

I was willing to wait and see if his words of sincerity would translate into action—and what I saw was Sanford try to ease out of the limelight as much as possible, letting everyone take potshots at him unanswered, letting everyone vent their venom, anger and disappointment, as he went about what was important to him: trying to repair and resolve the relationships in his life out of public view. When he would emerge into the spotlight, however briefly, he would be asked the inevitable question about the affair, how could he have done it, and every time, he would answer anew with deep reflection, sincerity and humility—never lashing out at others or trying to make excuses, never acting like “c’mon, I’ve already answered this.” Time and again, his actions matched his words. Over time, I fully forgave him.

Here is a man that has had a very public fall from grace, such a spectacular fall and with such circumstances that I believe it was a once-in-a-lifetime screw-up. I actually trust that he has worked to put his life back together in a way that assures me it won’t happen again. He is ready to move on, and so am I along with a multitude of #SC1 voters.

While he has been a big enough man to bear all the slings and arrows hurled at him, he hasn’t been too big to still humble himself before us and ask for a second chance, in an extremely personal way. Mark Sanford needs us. He needs us to give him the chance to fully redeem himself, and I think that makes him even more beholden to us in a deep, almost spiritual way. I believe he has something to prove to us now, to make things as right as he can possibly make them in this lifetime. We could be vindictive and withhold redemption from him, make it so that no amount of effort to regain our trust would ever be good enough, but I don’t think his sin comes anywhere close to deserving that punishment. I’m willing to give him the chance to go the next step and make amends to us, because South Carolina’s 1st district needs him. America needs him.

Now let me tell you why.

The Sanford Record

Mark Sanford is the fiscal conservative’s fiscal conservative. He was Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. Outside of his fall from grace, Sanford had a stellar record of public service.

When he was in Congress from 1995 to 2001, he actually returned a quarter of a million dollars to the US Treasury every year, which he had personally slashed out of his Congressional office’s operating budget. This was money allocated to him, approved by voters to spend, but he took it upon himself to protect the voters further, pinching every penny and looking after voter wallets.

This attitude was also reflected in his Congressional voting record, making him ranked as the most fiscally conservative member of Congress by both Citizens Against Government Waste and the National Taxpayers Union.

Then, as a two-term Governor of South Carolina, when Obama came to office and was shoveling our money out of the doors of the White House, Sanford was the first governor to reject the stimulus money–$700 million of it. This is important not only because he was standing on his fiscal conservatism principles (and withstanding the onslaught of leftist and media howling), but by his very act of stepping forward and having the courage to lead on it, other governors around the country were emboldened to follow his lead, to compete to see who could be declared the most fiscally conservative of the fiscal conservatives.

Wouldn’t it be a great thing to have that repeated over and again in Washington–contests to see who can spend less instead of the quest, even by Republicans, to spend more? It takes bold leadership, someone that can withstand the pressure to cave, to do this. It’s something Bostic has no record of doing, and no record of even claiming to be interested in doing it. (His campaign mantra has become “Sometimes you just have to say yes” as they jeeringly call Sanford “Mr. No.” When it comes to the insatiable appetite that Congress has for spending our grandchildren’s tax dollars and Chinese loans, I want Mr. No casting my vote any day.)

And Sanford is not afraid to take on his own party. While Boehner and the House leadership keep telling us that they’ll get us a better deal next time every time they cave, Sanford is one that won’t cave. The Republican-dominated South Carolina legislature and he had some mighty famous battles, with Sanford constantly vetoing their spending bills and forcing them to override them to pry the money out of the SC coffers. (Understand that and you’ll understand the background of the trumped-up “ethics charges” his opponents love to tout.)

He made the GOP majority squeal with indignation when he brought two little piglets, Pork and Barrel, into the statehouse to bring attention to their spending spree. We NEED more politicians with the guts to stop the spending in opposition to their party’s good old boy backscratching system.

Due to Sanford’s storybook record of reigning in state spending, the CATO Institute ranked him as the most fiscally conservative governor in America. (Can Bostic come anywhere close to these prestigious accolades? No.)

And the Tea Party needs Sanford in their ranks. Not only because he would be a solid vote with them, if not a leader. They have had difficulty in getting leadership to go their way, mainly because so many are freshmen and sophomore backbenchers. Sanford, however, by virtue of his previous three terms in the US House of Representatives will immediately reenter Congress with seniority over nearly 60% of his colleagues. He will be hard to ignore, and in a position to press the Tea Party perspective.

The Bostic Record

Personal injury lawyer Bostic presents himself as a Christian family man. I believe him. Most of Bostic’s support is coming from the extreme-wing of the religious right, whose sole focus is on Sanford’s divorce with much less concern about spending reductions and liberty issues. In fact, their tactics have been cause for alarm by some, including the leader of a local Tea Party group. (As noted in today’s Morning Jolt from Jim Geraghty at National Review, Bostic describes himself as a creationist, but declines to elaborate on how he defines that. If some GOP are worried about Sanford being promoted to the general election because of the national media jokes about the Appalachian Trail, just wait till they sink their teeth in on creationism.)

As you can tell from the above, I’ll leave people’s faiths to themselves. My focus is on our country’s debt and spending, and it is in those areas that things give me pause with Bostic.

First, while Bostic served on Charleston County Council from 2000 to 2008, its spending increased 25%–significantly outpacing inflation and population increase. Bostic argues that Charleston County voters themselves voted for the increase. I reply, yes, but he went along with it and voted for every single big-spending budget. He championed no cost-cutting measures, and some complain that he even added in projects such as the long-running I-526 extension boondoggle without subjecting it to voter comment or diverted tax revenues to his own pet projects, such as the Greenbelt Plan.

Taking the spending thing further, Bostic refused to sign a pledge to reduce federal spending—even though most of the other candidates in the primary signed it. It was just him, the Democrat general election candidate Elizabeth Colbert-Busch and two other small percentage voter getters that spurned the pledge. Bostic and Sanford both signed Grover Norquist’s ATR pledge to not raise taxes, and that’s a good thing, but we are drowning in debt. We must reduce spending if we are to save America. Our spending is unsustainable, and it should have been an easy thing to pledge to do.

Bostic has also refused to timely file his FEC disclosure form indicating the amount and sources of his income. He has filed for an extension that will put this knowledge out of reach for the runoff Republican voters but will be laid bare for general election purposes. How do voters know what’s in it, especially since he deems it too complicated for his CPAs and law firm to be able to figure out? What kinds of nasty surprises await us? Both Sanford and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Colbert-Busch managed to get their forms in on time.

Finally, the most disturbing thing is that Bostic has repeatedly canceled or refused to appear in debates and forums before conservative, libertarian and Tea Party groups. It’s quite troubling that Bostic had to be dragged to have a one-on-one conversation with Sanford on the issues facing South Carolina’s 1st District and America.

During his eight years on Charleston County Council, Bostic also missed an average of 20% of its twice-monthly meetings. The Bostic campaign took great offense to Sanford’s noting this during their first one-on-one debate, with Bostic saying that his wife suffered from cancer twice during his tenure, implying he had to miss county business in order to tend to her needs. Quite understandable, of course.

However, the SC Patch looked into a sampling of Bostic’s attendance records and found:

Patch reviewed the minutes from 11 of the meetings during Bostic’s time on council. Those minutes are attached to this article. On nine occasions he was either was out of state, out of the country or out of town. On two occasions his absence was unexplained.

His attendance ranges from 67 percent in 2005 to 93 percent in 2001. Most years on council it ranged around 80 percent.

When another media outlet asked the Bostic campaign to confirm the absences were directly related to Mrs. Bostic’s illness, they declined to respond. The Huffington Post also notes that the indignant tweets that his son, actor Daniel Bostic, tweeted after the debate (and served as fodder for various right-wing blog attacks on Sanford) have since been deleted.

North Charleston Patch added that his son, Daniel Bostic, tweeted: “Not gonna lie – I’m still infuriated over Sanford attacking my dad for missing council when my mom was dying.” As of Friday afternoon, the tweet was no longer on Daniel Bostic’s account.

The broad picture here is that Bostic has left the #SC1 voters with many questions: on his finances, on the issues, his beliefs and principles, on whether he can withstand the withering attacks that would come his way should he advance to the general election. He’s asking us to just blindly trust him. Bostic’s record is full of secrets. With Sanford, we know all his secrets.

On top of that, Bostic has a history of not showing up, and when he has shown up, he has voted for bigger budgets and said he would support background check gun legislation and a Constitutional amendment to make traditional marriage the law of the land (does he really believe that, with some states already approving gay marriage, an amendment could ever get ratified? or does he just think it sounds pretty to low-info voters?). Worst of all, he’s said he wants to be non-partisan and work across the aisle.

If he’s been so fearful to let the voters see how his positions contrast with Sanford’s, how will he stand up to politicians in Washington that are going to want him to just shut up, sit down and vote the way they tell him to?

We know Sanford will have the fortitude to stand up for us, against both Democrats and Republicans. He’s been there in the heat and glitz of Washington; he knows the games played and how not to get played. This is no time to be sending a rookie in during the middle of the game. We need someone that can be a strong voice, have some seniority and lead others to vote the right way.

The Closing Argument

There’s an old story about the 1884 presidential race between anti-corruption fiscal-conservative New York Governor Grover Cleveland and the Republican Senator from Maine, James G. Blaine. Blaine made his status as a devoted family man a centerpiece in his campaign, and his campaign had the dirt on Cleveland and an illegitimate child Grover had fathered out-of-wedlock years before but had supported financially.

The Blaine campaign taunted him with the slogan “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House. Ha, ha, ha.” The scandal was embarrassing indeed.

Yet, when it came to soberly assessing the race with logic instead of emotion, one observer noted (as related in Irving Copi’s classic text Introduction to Logic):

Since Cleveland has a terrific public record but a blemished private life, and Blaine has a storybook private life but a checkered public record, why not put them both where they perform best—return Blaine to private life and keep Cleveland in public life.

I couldn’t say it better myself. Put Sanford where we know he’ll do a stellar job. Return Sanford to Congress.

 

|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.