Friday, March 30, 2007

A semi-fisk of Brad Warthen

Brad Warthen today dredges up a 10-year-old column to complain about David Beasley, my former boss. My personal view is that Brad spends a lot of time being disappointed by politicans, most of the time because they never remove themselves from politics. Except, of course, for St. Joe the Beloved from Charleston.

Brad's appearance on the ETV radio show he links to essentially is a rehash of that column. It would be nice if Brad had some new thoughts or even actual evidence about how the Confederate flag controversy got resolved, who helped make sure it wouldn't get resolved, and who dropped the ball on the way to resolving it. He doesn't. Essentially, Brad's sole argument then was that had David Beasley made more public speeches and public proclamations about the flag during 1997, he would have met with more success.

I doubt it. The more public the governor went, the more the Legislature dug in its heels. So for a couple of months in 1997, when Brad Warthen most wanted the governor to be lobbying the public to pressure the Legislature, David Beasley went quiet. Brad takes that to mean he did nothing. Which isn't true, not that I can prove otherwise other than what I know from being there.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, several Democratic members of the state Senate, whose constituents clearly wanted the Confederate flag moved, did all they could to keep a Republican governor from getting traction on the flag. And Republican members of the House went as fast as they could away from an issue because they had their eye on small but loud voices inside the GOP primary.

Could Gov. Beasley have overcome all this? Maybe. Could he have overcome it with more public speeches? Very unlikely -- and there certainly isn't any evidence that I've seen that he could have.

Brad said about Gov. Beasley in 1997:
Count me among those who believe it was a genuine, road-to-Damascus experience, born of true concern about race relations in this state.

But now on the radio Brad says David Beasley's desire to be President is the reason he wanted to move the flag. So which is it? For what it's worth, all politicians have big egos and dreams, even St. Joe the Beloved of Charleston, who, if he had applied a little more work in the spring and summer of 1994, could have been governor himself.

Brad in 1997 said:

The governor, a veteran of the House, was apparently taken by surprise that leaders of the lower chamber resented being the last to know about his plans - even though they were the ones who would have to do the dirty work to make it happen.

What Brad surely had to know when he wrote this was that Gov. Beasley and staff met with members of the House before his plans became public. They weren't the last to know, and they didn't resent it because of when they were told, but more likely, that they were told at all.

The people who leaked the plans to the press were members of the House who didn't like the plans to begin with. I know. I got one of those leaks when I was a reporter.

I do not blame Brad Warthen for Gov. Beasley's failure to convince the General Assembly to move the flag. I also disagree with Gov. Beasley that the flag issue was the reason he lost re-election, and I could spend three more posts hashing out why David Beasley lost in 1998 (it isn't the flag, in my opinion, though it's silly to say it's not some factor).

The question that we're never able to answer completely is what would have happened had the flag debate taken a different turn in 1994. That year the South Carolina General Assembly nearly passed a compromise that would have moved the flag. Later that summer, David Beasley could have endorsed that compromise -- some prominent pro-Confederate flag senators backed it -- but he didn't. I wish he had.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Female lawmakers in South Carolina

Aaron Sheinin's piece in The State on Monday about the retirement of state Sen. Linda Short of Chester County includes this comment from the Senator:

“It’s harder for women to make the decision to run,” Short said, “because of hearth and home kinds of things. For younger women who have young children, it’s especially difficult.
“The initial decision to run is the hardest.”

The General Asssembly in South Carolina, if it wanted, could shorten the January-to-June legislative session. That would make it a great deal easier on any person, male or female, to consider running. A part-time Legislature should really be part-time.

It's not a new idea. But it's nearly always a dead one. Elected officials rarely like to encourage competition.


Banning Legos?

Oh brother.


A poignant turn for a song

Scott Johnson at Powerline discusses a review of a biography of songwriter Doc Pomus, author of several Elvis Presley hits including "Little Sister," and "His Latest Flame (Marie's the Name)." The most touching part of Johnson's post is his quote of Alan Light's NYT review. I'll just repost here:

  • His crowning achievement was the Drifters' sublime, "Save the Last Dance for Me." In a story straight out of Hollywood, Pomus actually wrote the lyrics on the back of an invitation to his own wedding, remembering how it felt to watch his bride dance with his brother, knowing that he himself was unable to navigate a dance floor. Under his pen, Halberstadt writes, the simple declaration of love he set out to write wavered, giving way to vulnerability and fear.

I don't think I can hear that song in the same way again.


Monday, March 26, 2007

How do they discover this stuff?

Do they just sit in a tree and look for moths?

(Hat tip: The Corner)


Monday, March 19, 2007

Hi again everyone ...

and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be...."

Less than two weeks to go until baseball begins. So to get us all in the mood, I post a link to a wonderful essay by's Eric Neel about the friend of every baseball fan in Southern California, Vin Scully.

My favorite part:
  • >> ... Scully, the sound of Scully, is synonymous with Dodgerdom. Whatever else we're doing when we put on a cap or a t-shirt, we're pledging allegiance to Vin. He's who we are.
    That's no doubt true in many major league cities, but it's especially crucial in Los Angeles. It's a vast stretch between the coast and the desert, and thanks in part to a tangle of freeways, a history of water grabs, and great geographical diversity, the L.A. area is a spread-wide place, with communities distanced and often cut off from one another. That's part of the charm of the place, for sure; you get great variety and, at the margins, some fantastic cultural, culinary, and political mélanges. But it comes, too, with a kind of alienated undercurrent, like the city's prone to spin, from time to time, like Yeats' widening gyre, like you're not always sure what connects you to folks on some other spoke of the wheel. I've always felt that Vin counteracts that in some steady, fundamental way.<<

Friday, March 02, 2007

Alas, Ted

Ted complains too much about press coverage, I think. He's right that the Caps reporter at the Post is a bit on the negative/cynical side, and that the NHL's attendance increase should be getting better coverage. I don't think the complaints really do much, however, and if I were reporter I'd be asking the NHL for a team-by-team breakdown of the attendance figures each month throughout the year.

In the larger picture, I am yet convinced that hockey is really recovering from the painful effects of the strike. That strike did more than take hockey away from its very loyal core fan base. It fed coverage of pending doom for what is truly North America's finest spectator sport -- the stories were filled with negative comments on how hockey had too many teams, that it had expanded too fast, that it allowed too much fighting, or not enough fighting. The strike set off thousands of painful cuts among opinion elites that can't be fixed with a couple of good attendance years.

I don't get as excited about the game as I did when I was young -- it's harder to follow players because they jump frequently and you can't see them as easily on television now that everyone wears helmets, and, well it's just not cheap to go.

It's still a great game, however, especially at the arena. The Caps are family friendly, they market themselves well (and they have persistent sales people, I tell ya) and Ted is a great owner for the fans.

And as long as we have players like this guy and this guy , it will be a game worth seeing.

(no this isn't going to become a respond-to-Ted blog).


57 Channels and Nothin' On

Don Surber makes a good point -- there's really not much on worth watching. The Eye Roller watches reality tv fairly passionately -- American Idol, Top Chef, The Apprentice -- but She Who Sighs and I hardly ever watch anything unless it's a sporting contest. And yes, she helps choose the contests.