Sunday, Sept. 18, 2005
to be a leader
SC Statehouse Report
18, 2005 - - This governor named Mark - - the millionaire
whose claim to fame as a congressman was he slept for six
years on a futon to save money - - just what makes him tick?
question, which keeps surfacing in political circles, mostly
leaves analysts, long-time politicians and observers scratching
"He marches to his own beat," said University of
South Carolina historian Walter Edgar. "He did it when
he was in Congress and he's done it since he's been governor
had some governors who have been very independent, but they
were much easier to read. You can't really read Mark."
Gov. Mark Sanford is, if anything, a libertarian enigma.
On the surface, he seems to be the penultimate foot soldier
for the Grover Norquist notion of making government so small
that it can be drowned in a bathtub. (President Bush may be
getting past this idea as he now has pledged billions of dollars
from the "big" federal government to clean up the
mess made by Hurricane Katrina.)
on actions over the past three years, Sanford's ideal for
a perfect South Carolina would find the state with very limited
government, no income taxes, limited roles for public education
and little governmental involvement with job creation. It's
almost as if all he would want government to do would be to
pick up the trash and police the streets - - and both of those
things might be too expensive for him.
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As Sanford the libertarian wants to slash and starve government,
Sanford the politician realizes it is going to continue and
wants to centralize its power under (guess who) the governor's
office. That's why you've seen pushes to create a regent's
council to centralize the state's higher education bureaucracy.
There are proposals to make several constitutional officers
become appointed, rather than elected, positions that answer
to the governor. And there's been the zeal to privatize Santee
Cooper, although the governor still maintains that wasn't
Fortunately for South Carolina, the governor's office is
relatively weak compared to other states. All of the dismantling
that Sanford wants to do has to go through the Legislature,
which is still smarting about the governor's blatant end run
around lawmakers to rewrite how Medicaid works in the state.
With an election year approaching and more than $3.4 million
in the bank, Sanford is sitting pretty comfortably in the
Governor's Mansion. So in spite of the General Assembly and
fellow Republicans that run it, Sanford can crow and strut
about how state lawmakers are impeding his plans to make South
Carolina a better place, even though he's done little to support
South Carolina needs is a governor less concerned about publicity
stunts and Hollywood/presidential public relations and more
concerned about helping most South Carolinians attain the
American dream and get better lives.
Stalwart Republicans are shouting this in his ear, but he
seems deaf. As noted by former Commerce Secretary Bob Royall,
who mulled but finally dismissed a primary bid against the
governor, Sanford needs to "do a much better job, if
indeed he will listen to some of the concerns of the business
sector and others."
Here's a primer on what Sanford can do to start being effective
and less of an annoying place-holder at the Statehouse:
- Education. Stop trying to privatize public education
with a tax credit program which is nothing more than a veiled
- Higher education. Keep pushing for colleges to
curb tuition rises, but do it for the right reasons - -
to make college affordable for all, not to score points
in a zealous power-grab to take away autonomy of colleges.
- Jobs. Instead of crowing about the 400 new jobs
at a Charleston aircraft plant that will cost the state
$400 million in incentives, how about steering $400 million
to small businesses to help them create jobs all over the
- Economic development. Get serious about it. The
state has lost thousands and thousands of jobs on your watch
as governor and you still seem to wearing a deer-in-the-headlights
look on what to do.
- Bickering. Stop the tension with the Legislature
and get down to work to create real opportunities, not more
Governor Sanford, your bumper stickers said you'd provide
leadership. Where is it?
9/16: Next time
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
To send a message to cartoonist Bill McLemore,
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on property taxes, Alvin Jones, Easley, SC
energy is realistic,
Tom deTreville, Beaufort, SC
to serve is to drive slower,
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Julius L. Brown, Hartsville, S.C.
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Warner B. Huck, Hilton Head Island, SC
Calbert W. Johnson, Bishopville,
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Prof. David Bossman, Seton
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SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Lawsuit. It's a good thing that somebody has filed
a lawsuit contesting Gov. Mark Sanford's proposals to change
Medicaid. Somebody's got to stand up for those who need it.
Barber. With the entry of Robert Barber as a Democratic
lieutenant gubernatorial candidate, Democrats have a solid
leader to challenge the GOP primary winner.
Unemployment. At 6.2 percent, the state still has
one of the nation's top unemployment rates. Last month, the
state only created 1,400 new jobs.
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