The problem is that for ordinary South Carolinians, it is no laughing matter. Unemployment is high. The state's economy has been floundering. And the state government, firmly in the control of Republican politicos for many years now, is a dysfunctional mess.
The current governor, Mark Sanford, is--thankfully--term limited. Not only was Sanford a national disgrace for his affair with an Argentine dancer, but in eight years as governor he accomplished little. In Sanford's view, the government is not there to help people.
The Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer, was so bad that he came in FOURTH place in a four person primary for the Republican nomination to succeed Sanford (and he was generally acknowledged as the reason Sanford wasn't forced from office).
Instead, the Republicans nominated a heretofore little known state senator, Nikki Haley, who's claim to fame is that she is a Tea Partier fancied by Sarah Palin. She may end up just as embarassing to the state as Sanford, as two male political operatives in the state have claimed to have had affairs with the married Haley.
[Haley denies it and claims there's no "evidence" to support the claims. Where we come from, testimony is evidence. Plus, one of her suitors has phone records showing hundreds of hours of contacts. That's evidence, and usually these things turn out to be true.]
Putting aside Haley's bedroom exploits--which Republicans seem ready to overlook when it's one of their own--she represents nothing new for the Palmetto State. Yes, she's a woman, and yes, she's Indian-American; but she's really just more of the same. As a state Senator, Haley refused to disclose outside income from "consulting" activities, claiming it was exempt from ethical disclosure requirements. Yet, nothing could be more important to disclose than who she's "consulting" for.
In the "Tea Party" mode--something she seems to have adopted as the current fad--she espouses low taxes and limited government. In other words, she won't do anything, other than favors for her consultee friends.
Now, there is an alternative for voters in the Palmetto State. Democrats have nominated Vincent Sheheen, a state senator from Camden. Sheheen's three boys attend the same public school he attended.
Sheheen would be a breath of fresh air. Every indication is that he is a true family man, with a long record of dedicated service to his church and his community. As a state senator he has vigourously pursued reformation of state government to make it more open and efficient.
We hope SC voters get to know Vincent over the next few months. Many white voters in the state have a knee-jerk aversion to anyone running as a Democrat, but those voters ought to look at the laughing stock that the Republican Party has made of their state. It's time to take a fresh look. Haley's "Tea Party" is no change at all; if voters want something new--a government that serves the people, then they should look closely at Sheheen.