Nobody here in Kershaw County or anywhere else in the country would rationally assert that President Obama's victory last month transformed the United States into a one-party country. After all, Obama won by a skinny percentage (though by a wider margin in the antiquated Electoral College), and the U.S. House of Representatives is still controlled by the GOP, as are a majority of governorships. However, the protocols of presidential politics are creating a more difficult path for Republicans to win the White House unless the party steps back and takes a fresh look at itself.
There's an old saying that a cat has nine lives, but in politics, there's probably nobody who has more lives than Hillary Rodham Clinton. It's a measure of her resilience that as she completes four years as secretary of state in the Obama administration and prepares to step down from that post, her popularity is high, even among many who considered her almost the devil incarnate for a long while.
• There's a legitimate reason many Republican lawmakers in Washington oppose the potential nomination of Susan Rice as secretary of state. There are too many unanswered questions about her statements following the attack on the U. S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Many in the GOP say they'd be more comfortable with Sen. John Kerry, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004. Kerry has long years of experience and significant expertise in foreign affairs. Unless President Obama simply enjoys picking fights, he'd do well to go with Kerry.
We've been whacking national Republicans pretty hard lately. They lost the presidential election by appearing to be completely out of touch with the majority of voters. They have been the image of obstinacy, acting as if they are still operating in a cloakroom of darkness. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has said the party is running out of angry old white men and had better change its ways.
There's a lot not to like about college athletics these days. In many ways, it has become a giant money grab, with schools giving up longtime allegiances and rivalries to jump from conference to conference, wherever the dollar signs are highest. Academic and recruiting scandals such as the recent one at the University of North Carolina are common. Coaches are paid millions of dollars while schools raise ticket prices for their fans, many of whom swear until their dying breaths that the coaches are "worth every penny of it." It's not a pretty world.
• One of the frankest explanations we've heard from Republicans on what the party needs to do to revitalize itself nationally came from Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi and former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Said the folksy Barbour, "We've got to give our political organization a very serious proctology exam. We need to look everywhere."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the plain-spoken chief executive of the Garden State, found out following Hurricane Sandy just how deep partisan feelings can run. Christie, who praised President Obama for his response to New Jersey's being battered by the hurricane, came under severe criticism from many within his own party for being too complimentary of the president's actions; in fact, some laid the defeat of Mitt Romney at Christie's feet, which is a specious position to take. We'll acknowledge that Christie, who plays by his own rule book, might have been more effusive in his ...
The folks at the Carolina Cup Racing Association did their usual fine job in putting on last Saturday's Colonial Cup steeplechase program, and those who attended saw fine weather and a great racing program that featured two Camden connections in the winner's circle. The Colonial Cup, of course, has never been as well attended or as well known as its older cousin, the Carolina Cup, and the annual November outing has sometimes battled iffy weather as well as all the competition -- football being the primary one -- that comes with a fall date.
• Every year seems to find a new "over-used" expression -- something that is uttered by one person and then is heard everywhere you turn. For this year's we've-heard-it-too-much saying, we're nominating "kicking the can down the road," which Washington politicians are using to describe a quick fix to the nation's deficit problems rather than a solid, long-term solution. We hope that in the future they resort less to catchy phrases and more to solving our problems.
Every once in awhile we take to jousting at windmills, posing situations that we know will never become reality but advocating for them, nevertheless. This year's elections, and the massive amount of money spent on them, spur us to do a bit of windmill tilting today. We all know, of course, that President Obama and Mitt Romney spent billions of dollars during their presidential campaign, but over the years, other races have gotten more and more expensive. Those filter all the way down to the local level.
Tip O'Neill, the Massachusetts pol who was speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for many years, once said that all politics is local. That maxim was never more evident than in last Tuesday's election for mayor in which political newcomer Tony Scully unseated incumbent Jeffrey Graham. It was concrete proof that if voters believe their elected officials aren't listening to them, they'll turn them out of office. Scully was a reluctant candidate but turned out to be an effective one, and voters responded to that.
• Former Camdenite and equine enthusiast Sally Brown is now living in Hilton Head with her husband, Austin, but her many friends here are happy that she has had a race horse named after her, just as Austin did a couple years ago. Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard and his wife Cathy named a filly for her earlier this year, and that horse is now in training. We don't know of any other "couples horses" which have been named for people, and it's a fitting tribute to both of the Browns.
The best thing about Election Day is that all the drivel spooned out by the pundits and analysts and strategists and partisans goes right out the window. The electorate finally gets to have its say. And on Tuesday, the nation's voters said they'd rather have another term of the Obama administration than put Mitt Romney in the White House. Strangely enough, Americans say they're tired of bickering among the two parties and they want compromise, but they re-elected both the president and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the two parties which haven't been able to agree ...
With election day now in the rear-view mirror, all Kershaw County residents from the staunchest, most bleeding-heart Democrat to the most rabid, reactionary Republican probably agree on one matter: that campaigns at every level last too long, are too expensive and focus too much on negative advertising. It won't be more than a few days before national pundits will begin speculating on which candidates are so-called front-runners for the 2016 election, and we'll be subjected to endless political chatter once again.
• With election day upon us, there's one final sad fact to report: lawyers for both parties are mobilizing, ready to start flinging lawsuits. In Ohio alone, thousands of attorneys are standing by; we're reminded a bit of those ads for prescription drugs in which a somber announcer tells viewers there's a pretty good chance they have a disease they might not even know about. Actually, having a legal fight would be an appropriate though mournful way to end what has probably been the most down-and-dirty fight American voters have seen.
One of the things that keeps many people interested in politics is the fact that big decisions can turn on little details. Such is the case with control of the United States Senate in the upcoming election; Republicans want to gain six seats so they'll have a majority in both the Senate and House, while Democrats, even though they understand they probably will lose some seats, want desperately to prevent a GOP majority. The entire deal -- which party, in effect, controls the government in Washington -- could come down to Alaska, the least densely populated state in the nation. With ...
The unemployment rate here in Kershaw County and across South Carolina, as well as the rest of the United States, remains disappointingly high. The economy is still mired in slow growth, and too many people are out of work. Yet a recent study by a national newspaper shows how ineffective government jobs programs can be and points out that many people who have tried to take advantage of them end up worse off than they were before starting them.
• Here in Kershaw County, we don't think about bridges much, unless it's the spans crossing the Lynches and Wateree rivers on U.S. 1, I-20 and other roads. Many bridges in our county are small, made of wood or pipes used as culverts. They cross streams and branches of creeks and -- according to our recent two-part story -- not in the greatest shape. Some state-owned bridges are in the process of being repaired or replaced with state and/or federal funds. But many others are owned by the county. All but two currently open bridges that cross bodies of ...
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