The Sleaze State Is Also The Sanctimony State
Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
February 13, 2016

Ben Terris of The Washington Post writes about South Carolina's reputation for below-the-belt presidential politicking:

“The hallmarks of the South Carolina dirty tricks are: high impact, low tech, high deniability,” said Joel Sawyer, a GOP consultant based in Columbia. “The more salacious the better. And the people that do these kinds of things know their audience -- they are going to play to the fears of the blue-collar South Carolinians and know these tricks are going to be impactful.”

The late GOP campaign consultant Lee Atwater is remembered as the patron saint of aggressive South Carolina politics. In 1980, he used push polls to link Democratic congressional candidate Tom Turnipseed to the NAACP -- a scary notion for some white suburbanites -- and spread rumors that as a depressive child Turnipseed had been “hooked up to jumper cables.” Atwater later became an adviser to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and chaired the Republican National Committee.

His tactics are still very much in play. It feels like just yesterday when anonymous phone calls went out around the state asking primary voters in 2000 if they would be “more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if [they] knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?”

Curiously, it's also the state where candidates -- and, presumably, voters -- get the vapors when people use bad words:

Mr. Rubio expressed disgust with Mr. Trump’s use of obscene language earlier this week, describing how his two young sons had watched a news clip of Mr. Trump insulting Senator Ted Cruz on the eve of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. When the boys, age 8 and 10, asked their father what word had been bleeped out, Mr. Rubio said, he was at a loss.

“The commentator said it was another word for cat,” Mr. Rubio said in an interview on Thursday aboard his campaign plane, which touched down here for a rally. “My boys wanted to know, ‘What was the word? What was the word?’ I said, ‘I can’t tell you.’ I had to make something up. And it bothered me.”

“I think you can be a straight talker,” he added, “but yet do it in a way that doesn’t offend.”

Meanwhile the head of Jeb Bush's communications team is trying to paint Rubio as anti-family because he denounces certain aspects of pop culture despite being a self-proclaimed hip-hop fan, as noted in a McClatchy article:

Why do dirty tricks and loud proclamations of "family values" coexist so well in South Carolina?

I'm a Northerner. I say if a state or locality is going to be nasty and sleazy, it should be that way across the board -- don't craft the best sleaze and then act all holy the next day.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.