Sunday, June 4, 2006
your homework before going to the polls
SC Statehouse Report
4 , 2006 - - Political television advertising is misleading
by its very nature.
Candidates have to do a lot in 30 seconds: Introduce themselves,
highlight a policy position or two, and make voters feel good
about them so they'll vote for them. Because candidates have
to cram all of that into a short ad, you can't really see
their true nature and get the full picture about their positions
For candidates, televised advertising is a great way to communicate
because they can control their message, craft their image
and reach a lot of voters.
If you're looking at the current crop of political advertising
filling the airwaves in anticipation of the June 13 primaries,
you might want to compare what politicians tell you with what
In the governor's race, GOP Gov. Mark
Sanford offers a solid and slick series of ads that portray
him as a leader who fights for change for taxpayers. As is
the case with his popular ads from 2002, he still has a folksy
style with shades of Hollywood glitz.
But the ads don't tell the whole story. In one called "Changing
World," Sanford touts a record of creating more than
100,000 new jobs, among other things. In reality, the state
has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country, has
lost 70,000 manufacturing jobs over five years and last year
was considered last in job creation.
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Sanford's primary opponent, Dr. Oscar
Lovelace, has what some political bloggers say is one
of the better ads of the season. After introducing himself
as a family doctor, he takes an obvious shot at Sanford by
saying he will provide "hands-on leadership." But
he doesn't provide many specifics beyond political platitudes.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Tommy
Moore, D-Clearwater, has two ads running that say he'll
be more effective than Sanford and he'll promote public education
first. These ads show Moore talking directly to the camera
and offer a little more detail than others. But they (obviously)
don't include criticisms by some that Moore offers wrong positions
on some core Democratic issues.
Meanwhile, Florence Mayor Frank
Willis, also running for the Democratic nomination, offers
an ad with action-oriented music that touts a Sanford-like
message. The ad says Willis will fight the powers that be
(i.e., state legislators) for changes people deserve. But
critics contend the ad wrongly claims Willis cut crime in
Florence while mayor.
Democratic candidate Dennis
Aughtry doesn't have television ads.
In the lieutenant governor's race, ads tell a similar partial
Lt. Gov. Andre
Bauer, for example, offers an ad with an energetic feel
that matches what he wants people to think about him. But
there's something a little disingenuous about the claim Bauer
"single-handedly blocked over a billion and half dollars
in new property taxes." Why? Because it's not that difficult
for any lawmaker to introduce one bill for $1.5 billion or
even $10 trillion in new taxes. And if the presiding officer
of the Senate (the lieutenant governor) does something procedurally
to kill it, then he can make the claim. Whether the bill ever
had a chance is immaterial with such a claim.
Meanwhile, Bauer challenger Mike
Campbell provides ads that readily let you know he is
the son of the late Gov. Carroll A. Campbell Jr. and a big
friend of the Bush (as in two presidents) family. And while
he and others say he'll do a good job, that's about all we
really find out - that he "comes from good stock,"
as the first President Bush says.
Republican challenge Henry
Jordan doesn't have an ad. Neither does Democratic candidate
Robert Barber, but he doesn't need ads yet as he has no primary
Bottom line: Ads can give only a snapshot of a candidate
- - and it's the snapshot a candidate wants you to remember
and believe. But the ad doesn't make someone the best candidate.
If you really want to pick a candidate who you think will
be the best leader or best represent your views, you should
avoid television ads. Instead, read newspaper articles, listen
to debates and take a look at candidates' Internet sites.
Andy Brack's new book of commentary, Bugging
the Palmettos, is available for $15.00. Click
here for more.
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning
paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive
news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and
TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed
with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more.
Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less
for business subscribers. More: SC
5/28: Adding Brack's book to bookshelf
To the editor:
I read Andy Brack's book
recently and placed it next to Michael Graham's "Banned
From Public Radio" on my bookshelf. Though Brack and
Graham approach SC politics from different political views
they both get it right about the General Assembly in Columbia.
-- Robert Lahmon, John's Island, S.C.
a connection, Butch
Robbins, Hilton Head Island, SC
- 2/24: Block the
sale of national forest land, Elizabeth Bailey, Darlington
Ahead on closed
A look at how you often learn first about things in SC Statehouse
"Keeping caucus meetings private
is dangerous because it allows state lawmakers to have
a secret place where they can have frank or heated discussions
and crystallize their views "to a point just short
of ceremonial acceptance," as one New York court
case said. ... Just because caucus
meetings have always been secret is no reason to keep
them that way. When public officials meet, they should
err on the side of sunshine, not smoke-filled rooms.
From the Spartanburg
Herald Journal, 5/31/06
"The more secrecy the lawmakers
adopt, the more suspicion they will generate in the
people. When they meet behind closed doors, they give
voters and taxpayers reason to think they are dealing
dishonestly and trying to pull something over on the
people. They are eroding confidence in themselves."
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political news items from the past week:
Meetze. Hats off to Senate Chaplain George E. Meetze
who, even after 56-plus years in the job, can command his
audience with strong messages. He is retiring after this session
at age 96, and the Senate honored him with oratory and a commendation
to be signed by all present and past senators with whom he
served. The senators also did something unusual: They recessed
for 15 minutes that dragged on to 35 or more to attend a reception
in the cloakroom for Dr. Meetze.
Service. Many thanks to state Reps. John Graham Altman,
R-Charleston, and Ronny Townsend, R-Anderson, among those
who will retire from legislative service this year. Townsend
leaves after 22 years, with a teary farewell. While we often
did not agree with Altman, he leaves after a decade with a
farewell full of the stridency by which he known in his podium
Secrets. A coal in stockings for Santee Cooper, the
Republican House caucus, to new legislative caucuses. , and
the conference committee on the budget. They all get this
Thumbs Down for attempting to do public business in secret.
No to secret audits. No to closed door caucuses to make decisions,
if not take votes. And No to . You were elected or appointed
to do public business in the public eye. If you can't stand
either you should voluntarily pledge not to
do so again or the voters ought to kick you out of the kitchen.
A little late. What was the point? The Anderson Independent's
editorial page published an editorial opposing the sales tax
shift for school operating expenses statewide, on the day
before adjournment, when the deal was already done. Please,
just collect that edition and take it to the solid waste authority
instead of allowing it to blow in the wind.
How you can subscribe to the full edition
of the report
The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the
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Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse
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In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get:
- Hot issue
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Down of major political/policy events for the week.
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