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A sickening report from New Hampshire
Ian Murphy & Paul Jones

ArrowDumb as Dixie
The manly myth of SC politics
Allan Uthman

ArrowMonkeywrenching the System
Ron Paul's revolution, the anti-war solution
Stan Goff

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Deprived and depraved
Rich Herschlag


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29 days of off-color justice

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ArrowKino Kwikees: Movie Trailer Reviews

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[sic] - Letters




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Dumb as Dixie
The manly myth of South Carolina politics
By Allan Uthman

With the back to back primaries in South Carolina occurring last week and this week, respectively, campaign coverage is awash with transparent admiration for the revolting tactics the state has become famous for. The most virile and violent political adjectives are out in full force: South Carolina politics is a tough, bare-knuckle, below the belt, heavyweight, blood-sport slugfest, we’re told. The New York Times, for instance, hails the “long, and infamous, tradition of hardball political attacks” on “the bloody political battlefields of South Carolina.” Cable TV pundits salivate over the “rough and tumble” tactics in the state.

But why is it really that presidential campaigns pull out their dirtiest, most detestable tricks in South Carolina? Why, after all, do they reserve their metaphorical brawn only for this one primary?

The answer is simple: South Carolinians are idiots. They are in fact so stupid that they’ll believe any bullshit story you can deliver to them third class. They are stupid enough to believe that John McCain worked for the Viet Cong. They are stupid enough to believe Mike Huckabee when he says he has “nothing to do” with a group that just happened to be push-polling on his behalf, despite his apparent protestations. They’re dumb enough to believe Obama is a secret agent of the Taleban. They’re dumb enough to believe Mitt Romney is an alien-human hybrid—oh wait, that one’s true.

You may not agree with me, but it’s clear that political campaign strategists do. Why didn’t the Bush campaign try the much-hallowed “McCain has an illegitimate black baby” hoax in Iowa or New Hampshire in 2000? Because those people are not dumb enough to believe it. Perhaps they’re also not racist enough for it to have made a difference, but isn’t racism really just an effect of stupidity anyway?

If you watch how the candidates tailor their messages for South Carolina, a pattern emerges. Mike Huckabee, who’d been all smiles and warm, welcoming hugs before, got to South Carolina and started belching fire and brimstone, calling for changes to the constitution to bring it in line with the Old Testament, and defending the confederate flag, an old and well-coded symbol of racism.

There’s no bones about it: South Carolinians are, by and large, idiots. Sorry, but it is just objectively true.

Remember that beauty queen who achieved fleeting fame a few months ago for her submoronic response to a question, appropriately enough, about America’s shameful educational deficit regarding geography? You know, “U.S. Americans, South Africa, and the Iraq, such as?” Guess what state she was from? That’s right, Miss Teen South Carolina.

Think about that girl once again. How incomprehensible her speech was—almost non-lingual. That girl is South Carolina. Do you think she’d do any fact-checking if she got an e-mail about Obama refusing to say the pledge of allegiance?

Another example of “hardball” campaigning in South Carolina is a phony “happy holidays” card from Mitt Romney, which was sent to many voters in the state last month. The card, falsely purporting to be sent from the “Boston Massachusetts Temple,” features a quotation from the Book of Mormon which ends, “In the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white,” with “fair and white” bolded and in a larger font size. Another quote, from a 19th century Mormon leader, declares that “God the Father had a plurality of wives.”

Now think about this: If you got that card, raising so many conservative red flags about Mormons (polygamy, religious racism) and liberals (Massachusetts, “War on Christmas”) would you think it was really Romney? Would you think Romney and his advisors were so politically stupid as to do that? No. No you wouldn’t. You’re not that stupid, unless you’re from South Carolina.

Of course, Romney’s down in the filth too, having hired former Bush political consultant Warren Tompkins, the man most suspected of having started the rumors about McCain’s “black baby” in 2000. For this flatly disgusting stratagem, Tompkins is lauded by the Times as “a legendary tough-playing Republican strategist.” He defends the tactic to Bloomberg News by saying, “It worked, didn’t it?” He’s quoted by ABC as saying, “If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.” Romney and his new smear specialist Tompkins may, or may not, be behind what is probably the most repellent attack of this year’s South Carolina shit-throwing contest, a foul, easily debunked mailer falsely accusing John McCain of collaborating with his Vietnamese captors and betraying his country. Again, most Americans would be appalled, and there’s a reason such asinine lies are reserved for the knuckle-dragging voters of South Carolina.

“Tough playing.” “Big dogs.” There it is again, the equation of exploiting idiocy to toughness and masculinity. This framing of underhanded, dishonorable, craven bullshit as tough and savvy pervades virtually all coverage of South Carolina, and it is goddamn ridiculous.

Let’s get it straight: It’s not “bare-knuckle,” or “tough,” or “below the belt.” It’s not “cutthroat” or a “slugfest,” it’s just stupid—really, really stupid. It’s not to be lionized or celebrated; it’s to be lamented and excoriated. Lying to uneducated, gullible morons is not tough, manly or admirable; it’s fucking easy, and these scumbags would do it all the time if they thought they could get away with it. But they can only get away with it in the Deep South, where literacy is optional and critical thinking is the devil’s work. Tompkins is right: These smears work, because they depend on the unthinking credulity of confederate yokels.

They also work because one thing you won’t often find the press doing is attributing any of these attacks to the campaigns that surreptitiously sponsor them. Is Romney really behind the McCain slur? Is Clinton behind the flood of libelous e-mails about Obama? We’ll probably never know for sure.

While it can be difficult to verify, some connections are obvious. For instance, when a pro-Huckabee non-profit, which shares major donors with Huckabee, blankets a state with dishonest, illegal automated push-poll phone calls attacking the other candidates, all Huckabee has to do to keep his name clean is say, “that’s their business,” and “I wish they would stop.” This paper-thin denial apparently provided enough cover for the Creationist candidate to feign angelic innocence at his South Carolina concession speech where he added insult to injury: “One of the things I’m proud of,” he said, “is that those of us, the two of us who finished at the top, ran a campaign with a level of civility, without attacking each other... I had rather be where I am and have done it with honor than to have won with the dishonor of attacking somebody else.”

The crowd cheered. Nary a peep about the Huckster’s hypocrisy in the press. Hey, that’s just how the big dogs roll in South Carolina.

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