Racism! Sexism! Religious bigotry!
And a Tea Party candidate is right in the middle of it!
This has all the ingredients of a scandal just made for the non-stop news cycle. Remember back in March when unsubstantiated allegations were made about racial slurs being shouted at members of the Congressional Black Caucus by Tea Party protesters? For weeks afterward pundits, columnists and talking heads couldn’t shut up about it — despite the complete lack of evidence that the incident even happened.
In this story, unlike the other, no one except those uttering the slurs is alleging anything — all the attacks are on the record. And a Tea Party candidate is very much involved. In fact, the candidate is the target of the attacks. Which goes a long way toward explaining why the punditocracy (in fact, most of the mainstream media) aren’t getting too worked up about it.
The candidate is Nikki Haley, a South Carolina Republican state representative who is running for governor with strong Tea Party support. Two weeks ago, a former aide claimed on his blog that he had had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with Ms. Haley, a married mother of two.
The blogger, one Will Folks, claimed that Haley was the one candidate in the Republican primary field who “would most consistently advance the ideals I believe in”, but that he felt compelled to go public with the information because a cabal of establishment Republicans was threatening to leak the story, potentially embarrassing his family and destroying his credibility as a blogger.
And this compulsion just happened to overwhelm him right after Haley emerged as the leader in the polls, surging from the back of the pack to a double-digit lead.
As they say down in those parts, that dog wouldn’t hunt. Donors responded to the allegations by giving Haley her most successful day of on-line fundraising since she entered the race. And former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose endorsement of Haley 10 days earlier had helped propel her into the lead, reiterated her support in a post on her Facebook page.
So a second allegation of infidelity was made, this time by a well-known lobbyist who claimed he had a one-night stand with Ms. Haley when they were both attending a school choice conference in Salt Lake City. That the lobbyist had, until the previous day, been employed by the campaign of Haley’s political rival, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, was not lost on anyone.
This time the dog died, and couldn’t be revived even after the first accuser released “proof” of the affair — more than 1,000 pages of records of cell phone calls that proved — PROVED! — that he and Ms. Haley had…talked on the phone.
When the sex thing didn’t work, Haley’s opponents tried to play the race and religion cards. South Carolina State Senator Jake Knotts, a Bauer supporter, said on “Pub Politics”, an online talk show, “we already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion.” This was a reference to the fact that Rep. Haley is the daughter of Sikh immigrants from the Punjab region of India.
Knotts went on to claim that Haley is “a raghead that’s ashamed of her religion trying to hide it behind being Methodist for political reasons”. (Ms. Haley converted to Christianity prior to her 1996 marriage to Michael Haley.)
As if this was not enough, CBN White House correspondent David Brody tried to lend some respectability to Knotts’ bigotry by devoting a lengthy post on his blog to questions about Ms. Haley’s religious beliefs. Brody, noting that newspaper reports at the time of her election to the legislature described her as the “first Sikh elected to a state legislature in the United States”, wondered how sincere her Christianity is.
So, there we have it: sexism, racism, religious bigotry. All directed at a conservative Republican.
Says Erick Erickson over at RedState:
It’s all too convenient. Let me break it down for you: Andre Bauer failed in his bid to paint Nikki Haley as a wh*re, so now he’s trying to paint her as a raghead. David Brody is serving as the useful idiot, most likely willingly. The story got out there this morning and Jake Knotts let loose this afternoon. It’s all designed to move the conversation from “is she a wh*re?” to “is she an American?”
The question is, where are all the usual guardians of political correctness? You can be sure that, were Nikki Haley a liberal Democrat, Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and their soul mates would be venting their spleens non-stop, that NOW president Terry O’Neill would be screaming “SEXISM!” at the top of her lungs, and Frank Rich would be raising the specter of white hoods and burning crosses.
But the target of these vile attacks is a Tea Party Republican, and the left-liberal media, when they have paid any attention at all to the story, have — with few exceptions — treated this sorry episode with a sort of wry amusement. The media believe, as an article of faith, that the Tea Party movement and the Republican base are made up of racist, homophobic, sexually-repressed, judgmental, hypocritical, Bible-thumping, knuckle-dragging bigots. So when these Neanderthals turn on one of their own, what’s to get upset about?
We know what the Left thinks of the Republican base. But these attacks reveal that certain elements of the Republican Party share those views. Why would Bauer campaign operatives try to slime Nikki Haley if they didn’t think GOP voters are the kind of sexists, racists and bigots who would buy into their crap?
The first thought I had after reading about the attacks on Rep. Haley was a wish to be a resident of South Carolina so I could vote for her. And I don’t even know anything about her or what her positions are!
However, I do know something about her Republican enemies. There are some Republican politicians and operatives, most of whom are based in Washington, who believe the media narrative about Republican voters, namely that they are ignorant, racist, bigoted and generally intolerant. Of course, they, the Republican elite, do not share these traits; however they are not above using these imagined characteristics of the GOP base to win elections.
If the Nikki Haley episode proves anything, it is that the elitists’ view of the Tea Party and the Republican base is dead wrong. I think a lot of South Carolina Republican voters are like me: they find the attacks on Ms. Haley so revolting that they want to vote for her just to spite her accusers.
A poll taken this weekend shows Rep. Haley with a comfortable 20-point lead over her nearest rival — who is not Andre Bauer, whose campaign was almost certainly responsible for the smears. Bauer has dropped to last place and now stands almost no chance of making it to a runoff even if Haley fails to secure 50 percent of the vote.