Nikki Haley: "Politics in SC is blood sport. I wear heels not as a fashion statement but bc you have to be prepared to kick at any time."
— Molly Ball (@mollyesque) February 18, 2016
Mr. Charles P. Pierce, “Lee Atwater’s Legacy”:
… It was the father of the Southern Strategy, longtime South Carolinian political boss Harry Dent, along with Atwater, who invented the South Carolina Republican presidential primary in 1980. Shrewdly, they both saw the centers of conservative power moving south and west, away from establishment WASP-ish Republicans like George H.W. Bush. At the same time, they’d noticed how blue-collar white Democrats in the industrial north had flocked to the campaigns of segregationist idol George Wallace, first in 1968 and then again in 1972, until Wallace was shot and nearly killed in a Maryland shopping center. They both felt demographic and political tides that were gathering themselves behind a new vision for the Party of Lincoln. At the time, Dent was working for the Bush campaign and, in South Carolina, Atwater had signed on with Reagan. At this point, the Republican race was still up for grabs. Reagan had lost in Iowa to Bush, and his win in New Hampshire was not a significant enough victory in the rapidly transforming Republican party. So Dent set up the South Carolina primary both as a breakthrough and a firewall for the Bush campaign. Meanwhile, Atwater was honing his chops that year by leaking a rumor that former Texas Governor John Connally was trying to buy black votes. And that was how the South Carolina Republican primary was born—in carefully calculating realpolitik and in dirty tricks…
What Atwater did was more than inject into Republican politics a modern form of strategic viciousness. With it, he injected an entirely new form of strategic unreality. From that has come the party’s inability to recognize or acknowledge the empirical. By creating an entirely new Dukakis in which his voters could believe, Atwater showed them how to build the bubble and to armor it against reality. The combination of strategic viciousness and strategic unreality has come full flower this year. We have Donald Trump, who is one ring of the circus all to himself, calling his opponents liars and Mexicans rapists, and threatening to sue Ted Cruz, who responds by telling Trump to bring it on, and that he, Cruz, would be happy to depose Trump in discovery personally. And Marco Rubio is telling people that the United States is at the edge of the abyss and that only he can restore it to its former glory. What seemed crude and nasty in 1980 has become sleek and edgeless and as common as milk now…
Second GOPer today to tell me Team Bernie calling all NV voters, trying to get them to register Dem on Caucus Day. pic.twitter.com/kqEhlNqhqF
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) February 13, 2016
As we gird up for the Nevada/South Carolina events, what’s on the agenda for the day?