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Mister Speaker - you’re wrong on Sanford and wrong for your party!
Lee Walton

Bobby Harrell’s commentary, ‘Uneven’ Sanford out of touch with South Carolina, in this past Sunday’s Palter and Chatter shamelessly lambasted Governor Sanford’s steadfast opposition to the Obama Administration’s debt laden recovery plan and the Governor’s preference to pay down a portion of public debt with a small percentage of this state’s stimulus share. Not that he would care, but by his vicious diatribe, Harrell violated the most sacred of conservative tenants of the Republican Party – speak no public ill of a fellow party member. In doing so, it was not Sanford’s character and image that suffered, but the Speaker’s. In the eyes of many throughout this state, Harrell’s public image shrank to that of just another foot-stomping, shrill-shrieking, chicken-little political demigod. Lord knows, this state’s got one too many of them already in the Lowcountry.

Harrell may be Speaker of the S.C. House of Representatives, but he personifies what’s wrong with the Republican Party in S.C. and across this nation. Somewhere during those countless long, boring drives up I-26 to Columbia, Speaker Harrell has lost touch with the core fiscal conservative ideology of a once respectable political party. He has now taken his rightful position as just another State House RINO (Republican In Name Only) interested only in the short-term fix of spending this state into a legacy of burdensome debt for decades to come. By supporting a bloated state budget, balanced only by one-time federal stimulus borrowing, Harrell has bought into the price of extravagance and excess that was the singular catalyst of the current global recession. Apparently, he’s learned nothing from the negative experience of hardship and economic loss that has swept from Wall Street to Broad Street in little more than a year.

Like so many others of late in his party, Harrell seems to have lost what little character and courage and what few core conservative beliefs he may have had and is now working hand-in-hand with the Democratic Party across the isle of the State House Chambers. By opting to publicly take his own party’s governor to task in the manner and tone of his commentary, Harrell has done more damage to the tattered remnants of the state Republican Party that a pit full of liberal, socialist vipers could do in a month with a million dollars. His commentary, coupled with Sunday’s matching editorial rhetoric, End state’s budget crisis, spewed forth from the southwest corner of the Palter and Chatter’s third floor, has got the progressive liberals and want-to-be socialist all over this state grinning from ear-to-ear as they just stand aside and enjoy the Republican intra-party razor slashing and mud slinging.

At a time when millions of the conservative “silent majority” throughout this nation are struggling to find a national identity, Harrell and other elected leaders of his party would do well to stop listening to their own misguided rhetoric and be a little more attentive to what’s being said on the streets of this nation and in the cities and towns of this state. Much to the surprise and chagrin of career politicians from Charleston City Hall to the State House in Columbia, it was Governor Sanford and US Senator DeMint who got the greatest applauds and recognition from the nearly 4,000 citizens who gathered on the steps of Charleston’s US Custom House on April 15th. The attendees of Charleston’s Tea Party were as varied in age, appearance, and social and economic background as one could possibly imagine, but they all spoke with one clear, loud voice on the issue of run-away national debt and their fear of this nation’s rapid slide into European-style socialism.

From my perspective as a proud attendee, and as one of the thousands who took the time from our busy schedules to brave the Market Street tourist traffic to gather in a common cause at the US Custom House, there was a deeply gratifying realization that the citizens of the Lowcountry are publicly demanding a return to governments of frugality, fiscal restraint, and social moderation. Any elected official, be it Mayor Riley, Speaker Harrell, or President Obama, who would turn a deaf ear or blind eye to such spontaneous gatherings now does so at their extreme political peril.

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