Political Animal


May 06, 2013 5:25 PM Smiley-Face Wingnuttery

By Ed Kilgore

At Slate, Dave Weigel’s reporting from Mark Sanford’s campaign consistently reveals an anomaly: Sanford’s on a charm offensive to convince voters he’s this really nice, contrite, sensitive man who shares their paranoid fears about Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Check out this passage as an illustration:

Sanford let reporters tag along to the second (of 11) scheduled event, a meet-up with former Gov. James Edwards and defeated primary foe Rep. Chip Limehouse. Edwards, an octogenarian with an iron handshake, summed up Sanford’s anti-Nancy Pelosi message in helpfully apocalyptic terms.
“It’s a battle for the soul of America,” said Edwards. “If we don’t get every vote we can out, Obama will be a dictator. He’s practically a dictator now.”
Limehouse agreed. “What we’re talking about is whether we want socialism to prevail or whether we want to have capitalism,” he said. “I don’t think capitalism is a bad word.”

If you’re not use to “movement conservative” politics, particularly as it’s practiced in the Deep South, this has to be disorienting. Sanford doesn’t have to pursue separate high road/low road messages in this contest: many of the nicest people think Obama is a baby-killing, property-stealing totalitarian, so the candidate doesn’t have to raise his voice or stop smiling, bless his sweet heart.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • jjm on May 06, 2013 5:32 PM:

    Well, when I heard a woman commentator on Up with Steve Kornacki from HuffPo or Daily Beast say she 'had a soft spot' for this tea party philanderer, because he was a 'romantic' I thought surely it's over for trying to get rid of him.

    If he wins the women's vote for being a Lothario, watch out. Here come the Don Juans of the GOP...

  • stevio on May 06, 2013 5:54 PM:

    South Carolina , like Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, etc. deserve the likes of Sanford. They hate blacks and woman worse than they hate liars...funny how much they embrace liars, cheats, and back slappers...one hand on their back the other lifting their wallet.

    This is such a nauseating country.

  • emjayay on May 06, 2013 6:49 PM:

    I totally don't get the "dictator" thing, which is thrown around commonly among the apparently low info wingnuttery, including here a former governor. It's objective fact that GW Bush did all kinds of things to centralize power in the presidency and establish it as above all other parts of the government, in contradiction to the priciples of the Consitution, among other dictatorial-tending moves. The Unitary Executive Theory and all that. All in the tradition (but much further) of Republican Nixon, who said something like if the president does it it's legal.

    The only things about Obama that I can think of that are maybe in that direction is killing people with drones. Not that presidents in the past didn't have democratically elected foreign leaders assasinated - they just didn't talk about it.) Maybe continueing GW Bush's security state. Both things low info wingnuts are likely to think are great. Other than that Obama is the obviously the play by the rules compromise guy.

    Can anyone explain?

  • Mimikatz on May 06, 2013 8:40 PM:

    Forcing people to pay taxes so people poorer than they can have health insurance, or pre-school for their kids, or even pre-natal care and infant care is socialism, and the real tyranny is maybe making it harder to get guns. That is all this is about. That, and fear of the world we are becoming.

  • Anonymous on May 06, 2013 9:04 PM:

    Can anyone explain?

    Rush Limbaugh. Oh, and the fact Obama is black.

  • xpatriate on May 06, 2013 10:56 PM:

    Here's why even the BTs (Bible Thumpers) will vote for Sanford the lyin' philanderer. Jimmy Swaggert (cousin to Jerry Lee Lewis), Jim and Tammy Baker, begged forgiveness and then begged for more money. Sanford is just begging forgiveness so he can go make him some money.

  • MuddyLee on May 07, 2013 8:18 AM:

    Repubs in South Carolina think low taxes and lower government spending (which has the side effect of reducing regulation of business)are what matters. They don't believe in public health, increased insurance coverage, or "welfare" - those things make people "lazy"
    (or "dependent" if you're polite) and less likely to want to work for low wages. I think the history of slavery and sharecropping and low wage industries like textiles has a lot to do with this. The "low tax repubs" use the religious people to help them win elections - they don't really care about their issues. Free market guys like Sanford: good; "socialists" like Obama and Pelosi and Colbert Busch: bad.

  • smartalek on May 07, 2013 11:39 AM:

    "It's objective fact that..."

    Now, see, there's your problem right there.
    You think that actually matters!
    Silly liberal!
    We all know "facts have a liberal bias," of both of which the Publicans, and their loyal subjects (that is what they are -- ironic, innit, given their professed "freedom!" and rugged individualism; just read their comments, if you can stomach it), are the sworn nemeses.
    Plus, of course, what the 4 comments above mine said; they are all quite correct.