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Tilting at Windmills

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March 13, 2009

PUTTING A HUMAN FACE ON GOP NEO-HOOVERISM.... During President Obama's address to Congress last month, he pointed to Ty'Sheoma Bethea, a young girl in South Carolina whose school is falling apart. Bethea, who sat next to the First Lady, had written a letter to Congress.

"Bethea has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, 'We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters.'"

The good news is, the economic recovery package included money for schools. The bad news is, Mark Sanford is Ty'Sheoma Bethea's governor, and he wants to turn down $700 million in federal stimulus funds -- money that would go towards education in South Carolina.

Ali Frick noted this fairly devastating report on CNN last night, which considers the implications of Sanford's decision. (If you can't watch clips from your work computer, the transcript is online.)

Now, I suspect a conservative watching this would consider it a hit-job on Sanford. Though the CNN piece includes multiple quotes from the governor, Sanford is clearly the villain.

But as it happens, there's a good reason for that: he's spectacularly wrong. Sanford wants to reject $700 million from the federal government. As a consequence, 7,500 teachers would lose their jobs (and they, in turn, would spend less money in their local economies); construction workers who might work on school repair will not get hired (and they, in turn, will not be able to spend money in their local economies); and students like Ty'Sheoma Bethea will stay in schools that are literally falling apart.

All of this, Mark Sanford believes, is the best thing for South Carolina's economy. Is it any wonder the CNN piece makes him look like a monster?

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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How about Rick Perry turning down funds for unemployment benefits in Texas? Why? Because that would mean that Texas would have to actually start paying benefits that actually amounted to more than a can of beans.

Posted by: Ranger Jay on March 13, 2009 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

And this morning Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has joined "Tweedle Dumb" Sanford. Everything's bigger in Texas, so that makes Rick "Tweedle Dumber".

Something in this strikes me as very Dickensian, as if these GOP Governors have somehow misunderstood the sentiments of "Great Expectations", "Oliver Twist" and "A Christmas Story". Evidently when Sanford and Perry hear the Christmas classic retold, they identify with Scrooge as the hero, and the ghosts of Christmas past are just liberal scum.

I'm sure they rewrite the ending as a celebration of keeping worthless "losers" like Tiny Tim from getting their grubby paws on any taxpayer money.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on March 13, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Oh my...this report should be broadcast ALL over the country. Don't give up Ty'Sheoma - your last comments were spot on.

Posted by: whichwitch on March 13, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

When is this clown up for reelection?

Posted by: Tigershark on March 13, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Cost of rejecting stimulus money: $700 million.
Sticking it to a core Democratic constituency? Priceless?
Appealing to everyone who breaks out in hives at the word 'public?" Priceless?
Buffing your 2012 primary cred: Priceless.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on March 13, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Educating people is not to the republicans advantage. The more they can keep people in the dark the more they can manipulate them. The more ignorant the people are, the more likely they will be to vote for the rightwingnuts.

Posted by: CDW on March 13, 2009 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Gov. Sanford can afford to turn it down because he knows the legislature will over-rule him. he can pretend to be politically pure in time for an election run, while ensuring his state still got it's share of the pie. One of the most evil ploys ever.

Posted by: Darsan54 on March 13, 2009 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

In this case, I think the administration should let Stanford opt out, and then let schools in SC apply for separate grants. It would likely lead to a fairer distribution anyway.

Posted by: Danp on March 13, 2009 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

True conservatives understand that the real problem with this country is that rich people don't have enough money and poor people have too much. Slightly increasing taxes on the richest one percent of Americans to fund improvements in education for the poor is immoral and evil according to Ayn Rand. Sanford is courageously standing up for that moral principle.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 13, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Great quote from the piece by Sanford:

GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's easy to fall in the trap of we need to fix this one school. The hat that I wear is to look as best I can and it will be imperfect, at the statement's entirety.

Fixing a crumbling school is 'falling into a trap'? And he's worried about what 'hat' he's wearing?

I mean, he's seriously saying that his main concern is his own appearance (politically speaking). But for him to say it like that sounds absolutely horrible.

I really dont think this plan will turn out well for Sanford, even if his state legislature ends up taking the money over his wishes.

Posted by: TG Chicago on March 13, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

You go, Ty'Sheoma! You beat those Republiscum over the head with the consequences of their actions, and while you're at it, get in a few jabs at racism and sexism, too.

This next generation ain't too bad at all.

Posted by: Personal Failure on March 13, 2009 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

I can still remember, back during the whole Graham Frost SCHIP flap (remember that?), there was an episode of Bill Maher's Real Time. One of the panelists was a mouth breather from the MSM (for the life of me, I can't remember who, but I think he was from NBC). His reaction to using young Mr. Frost to show the human cost of Bush's veto of the SCHIP expansion was to whine about how unfair it is. He bitched that putting a human face on the issue "ends the debate."

I swear to FSM, that was his complaint. I wanted to get in my car, drive down to the studio, and slap that asshole silly.

These twits seriously believe that political policy is just some kind of high school debating club. They either don't understand or don't care (my bet) that policy has real-life consequences for real-life people. They love to posture and bloviate as if the whole thing was a big hypothetical discussion. And when someone comes along and points out that it isn't, they get all offended and start browbeating that person.

I'll bet that Gov. Sanford is at least nominally a member of that group. It is far easier to take a stand in a vacuum than to actually govern.

Posted by: Shade Tail on March 13, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

These people, who have lived comfortable lives with all of the advantages, have no idea of what it is like to struggle - and they don't care. One can only hope that one day they will find out, and they will receive as much sympathy as they were willing to give.
As the Beatles said in the last line to their last song "and in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make".

Posted by: James G on March 13, 2009 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Cue Malkin's flying monkeys to go out and dig up every piece of dirt about Ty'Sheoma and her family that exists in even the most trivial way. But but but someone did it to Joe the Plumber, so it's totally fair to go after a 16-year-old girl the same way!

Posted by: Mnemosyne on March 13, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

I assume that if the state had the money I assume they would spend it - on whatever.

Posted by: ET on March 13, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

All right, so Sanford looks like a monster, but on the flip side, Obama IS a closet Muslim terrorist who wants America to lose and wasn't even born in America so his Presidency is a sham.

I mean, that pile of horsesh*t IS the last refuge of Republican scoundrels, isn't it?

Posted by: slappy magoo on March 13, 2009 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

If you really think conservatives would view this as a "hit piece" you haven't been paying attention to the conservative movement lately. A Republican Governor who wants to be president turning down federal money to use on public schools for poor black kids? That's a puff piece.

Posted by: Ted Frier on March 13, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, if Sanford goes around giving everyone who wants one a decent job and educational opportunities, how will they ever learn how much South Carolina sucks?

Posted by: jonas on March 13, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

"If you really think conservatives would view this as a "hit piece" you haven't been paying attention to the conservative movement lately."

I know you're being facetious... ^_^

But seriously, the GOP likes to pretend that they are sane and mainstream. Everybody knows they aren't; the kow-towing to Limbaugh proves it beyond any doubt. But being openly portrayed as American-hating elitists really is a blow to their public (or rather, publicized) image as the party of the good, "real" Americans.

Posted by: Shade Tail on March 13, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone else have My Sharona stuck in their head after reading that courageous little girl's name?

Well, now you do.

Posted by: doubtful on March 13, 2009 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

wow, how unpolite of CNN to point out what an ass sanford is.

how long do we have to wait until conventional wisdom realizes that that's their job?

Posted by: karen marie on March 13, 2009 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

When is this clown up for reelection?

Posted by: Tigershark

He's in second term as SC governor, so he's not up for re-election. He's actually running for the GOP presidential nom. in 2012.

Posted by: kc on March 13, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

>"as if these GOP Governors have somehow misunderstood the sentiments of "Great Expectations", "Oliver Twist" and "A Christmas Story".

Hits the proverbial nail on the head. To these folks, the world of Charles Dickens represents an ideal society.

Well, perhaps that's taking it a little bit too far... the 1890's or perhaps the ante-bellum glory years of the South might be a more accurate utopia for the right-wing.

Posted by: Buford on March 13, 2009 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

TG, Sanford is always only concerned with what "hat" he is wearing. He doesn't care about real people, he cares about his libertarian principles.

Shade Tail is close to right. Sanford is not nominally one of those people who just want their policy view to be right and ignore the consequences. He is fully like this, and always has been. It is why the the Republican legislature here hates him. Those legislators actually talk to people in their districts. Sanford lives in a world unencumbered by real struggling people. All he cares about are his pseudo-intellectual ideas and his eventaul run for president.

Posted by: scarolina on March 13, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

The real villain in this story is the monster of a parent who named her daughter Ty'Sheoma.

Posted by: garnash on March 13, 2009 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

This is going to be a spectacularly stupid move by Sanford. Unless all 7,500 of those teachers are in poor black districts he is going to get an earful from enraged white voters--married men and women with children are generally pretty serious voters and they depend on their kids schools for, among other things, childcare so they can work. You can't lay off that number of teachers without essentially destroying one of the few areas in which voters are *already organized*--PTA's, School Boards, and town councils. Its spectacularly stupid to piss off people who have each other's addresses and emails and are used to getting together to raise money already.


Posted by: aimai on March 13, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Sanford does not care how this affects the people of South Carolina. He is an ideologue who is positioning himself to get the financial support of the far right money for a run for President in 2012. He is simply willing to sacrifice his state to maintain his purity as a conservative. Apparently he has not noticed that a republican who is ultra conservative is not likely to get elected in a nation still reeling from Duh-bya.

Posted by: Observer in SC on March 13, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

"To these folks, the world of Charles Dickens represents an idea society."

Oh he was a tightfisted hand at the grindstone, old Sanford was, a covetous, scheming, miserable old flint!

As said above, this guy is already prepping for 2012 and is all about burnishing his credentials as "Most Conservative" for the GOP base. If people in his state have to suffer for that, so be it.

Nice guy, Sanford. Both stupid and venal.

Posted by: gf120581 on March 13, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

It's too bad he's not up for re-election. I noticed the story the Washington Post did on all the unemployed in South Carolina focused on quite a few blue-collar white folks. They probably voted for the guy and aren't taking kindly to his rhetoric now.

Posted by: lou on March 13, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised that no one has quoted the recent study that names the "100 Worst Schools in America," and noted that a disproportionate hunk of them are in SC.


Posted by: Mauimom on March 13, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

its kind of bothersome how much anyone feels compelled to defend an 'attack piece' these days, especially anything that draws a normal, fact-based conclusion about how wrong Republicans are.

there is nothing wrong with a piece being very heavily anti-Republican. it just can't rely on made-up facts or specious arguments. there is one positive argument for what Sanford is doing (keep deficit low, not a particularly high priority during a recession, but its something) and many, many, many downsides.

now, wouldn't it be much weirder and show much more bias to write an even-handed account of such a thing? bias isn't the point. accuracy is. bias is inevitable, much as our culture isn't mature enough to really grasp that concept. it is natural and fine to have personal biases. just don't be like the Republicans you see on the TV who just make crap up on the spot, or repeat the crap that they and their buddies made up together at some meeting, as if its the truth. right wing crazies have been allowed to do this at will without being called out on it since 1994.

Posted by: onceler on March 13, 2009 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

The Conservatives want government everywhere it seems; if it means promoting God-worship and prayer, or funding destruction by munitions of "brown people" overseas. But help out a school? That's the voice of the demon beast!

Posted by: Daro on March 13, 2009 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly, with courageous and principled men like Sanford in place I can't figure out why today's GOP has so little support among African-Americans. The ingratitude for his being reluctant to waste money on silly things like schools is simply appalling. If they would just accept their place then everything would be fine.

Posted by: bluestatedon on March 13, 2009 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I'm slow to notice this but the very word "spending" is a negative to conservatives.

They hate it when government spends. What it's spent on enter into their thinking a good fifteen twenty minutes after they've finished shaking their heads ruefully, fighting off dry heaves, maybe wiping a tear of anger away...

So when you claim Sanford is doing a horrible thing by making sure teachers don't spend money, I'm not sure if you realize that conservatives don't automatically see this as a problem.

When people aren't spending, what are they doing?
When a wealthy person (the conservatives' role models and "base" isn't spending, he's INVESTING! or SAVING! (for an investment one surmises.)

So when economies grind to a halt perhaps it's because people are saving money! Hallelujah! Bootstrap kind of stuff! Frugality! Back to basics! All very wholesome stuff.

Hell I hear economists on NPR who are joyful of the 3% savings rate Americans have adopted of late (while acknowledging that the thrift has serious drawback at the moment.

Conservatives are convinced that bad economies are a sign of moral triumph over materialistic avarice. When malls are empty it's because people are reconnecting with family and poring through a good book rather than getting the latest video game.

It paints a pretty picture. I like it a great deal myself as I'm get by on used GameCube games for my kids and buy books aplenty and even visit the library. Norman Rockwell stuff.

Problem is, those that didn't have much disposable income aren't saving. They're going under. They're slowly dying. When people don't spend, sometimes they aren't spending on groceries. Or heating oil. Or electricity.

The Norman Rockwell scene is revealed instead to be something out of a Dickens tome. A certain yuletide hero of his would be very impressed with Sanford's economic restraint.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 13, 2009 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK



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