Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 26, 2010
POLITICS: Worse Than Smear
The really damaging thing about he-said-she-said allegations in politics, especially in the weeks close to an election, is that long experience makes voters hesitant to ever totally discount the allegation. Hence, my awarding in years past of the Bedfellow Awards for particularly late-breaking hits.
We've had a doozy recently in the South Carolina Governor's race, where conservative Nikki Haley is looking to carry on the reformist, anti-establishment legacy of Mark Sanford, without the baggage of Sanford's messy extramarital affair. Haley has the endorsement of Jenny Sanford, and promoting her candidacy has long been a project of Erick Erickson at RedState, as part of Erick's broader promotion of a slate of candidates who are trying to break the GOP away from the spending excesses and related scandals that doomed the party in 2006. Haley recently surged into first place in the race for the June 8 GOP primary (there's a June 22 runoff if no candidate clears, I believe, 50%) upon receiving the coveted endorsement of Sarah Palin (Palin's endorsement was also vital to surges in the polls by Rand Paul in Kentucky and Carly Fiorina in California).
South Carolina, however, is one of a handful of states whose politics are most notoriously vicious at the retail level (Louisiana, Illinois, and New Jersey are others), and lo and behold, Haley's campaign has been hit by a sensational attack: former Haley staffer and blog gadfly Will Folks claims to have had an unspecified "inappropriate physical relationship" with the married Haley.
The left-blogs and the national media immediately ran with this story; it seems that local press in South Carolina, being more familiar with Folks, has kept a little more arms length from him, seeing this as potentially more like the guy who claims to have had a gay affair with Barack Obama. But the more we see about Folks and the more we hear from him, the less credibile he seems and the more holes appear in his story. (Speculation appears to be that Folks is bitter at Jenny Sanford, who he blames for getting him fired from speechwriting gigs in both the Sanford Administration and the Haley campaign, and/or that he's on the payroll of a rival camp).
Ben Domenech has the best roundup, including a creepy you-have-to-see-to-believe video mock interview produced last year by Folks in which a cartoon version of Folks, who has a rap sheet for domestic violence, repeatedly refers to a desire to hit the cartoon version of Haley in the face. But make sure to follow a bunch of Ben's links to Ace, who is all over this story.
Combined with the nasty history of stalkerish to the point of criminal behavior aimed by Democrats at Palin and her family, including the latest news that writer Joe McGinnis has moved in next door to her after failing at a $60,000 bid to buy dinner with her, and you can see why this looks like the same old m.o. of character assassination.