Thursday, June 3, 2010

Notes on Nikki

I'm not sure I should leave South Carolina anymore! Just over a year ago I had gone to Bedford, Texas to attend the inaugural Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America when the story broke that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's whereabouts weren't entirely certain, but that he was somewhere on the Appalachian Trail. Literally on the day of my return (and the same day that Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson passed away -- it was a very busy news day!)the Governor confessed that he had strayed off of the trail (and away from his marriage) and had been down in Argentina.

Last week I was at Messiah College near Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for the annual Banner of Truth Ministers' Conference (an outstanding time of teaching, by the way) and while I was traveling up there I checked my Twitter feed and learned that Will Folks, the founding Editor of FITS News had "confessed" to an "inappropriate physical relationship" with Rep. Nikki Haley (R-Lexington), currently the front runner in next week's gubernatorial primary. Haley promptly denied it and it seems not to have hurt her campaign (while Folks has broken some interesting stories, his reputation is not the best). There seems to have been little effect (most people seeming to believe Haley's denial), although his "confession" was joined by a second claim by Columbia consultant Larry Marchant that he had had an one-night stand with Haley during a trip in 2008. Again, Hailey denied it and suggested a link to the Andre' Bauer campaign. Bauer, for his part, suggested that Haley should take a polygraph test regarding the charges and other matters.

Several observations:

1. Hailey is correct that the timing of these allegations is very suspect. It is interesting that both Folks and Marchant were mum until she was polling very favorably, gaining momentum and igniting the grass roots. It smells like a character assassination..

2. Even assuming that the charges of Folks and Marchant are true (and Folks' evidence is sketchy at best, only proving that they contacted each other frequently at a time when they were working together; Marchant has no evidence) these charges come ipso facto from men who committed adultery with another man's wife and then kissed (well, more than that) and told. Not men of very high character!

3. Conversely, admittedly, the reputations of both Folks and (especially) Marchant (both of whom are married men) will suffer by these admissions regardless of their truthfulness. That must at least be considered -- is that a sword upon which one would dubiously fall for a story or for a political candidate?

4. Haley's husband, Michael, is an officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard. I have not been able to ascertain what his assignment is, but his Facebook profile includes a photo of the patch of the unit now known as the 218th Maneuver Support Brigade but formerly known as the 218 Infantry Brigade (I served in the unit for several years in the early 1990s). Parts of that unit have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, meaning that the candidate's husband could've been in a combat zone during the time that these incidents allegedly took place. I mention that because, while all adultery is certainly wrong, commuting adultery with the wife of a man who's subject to IEDs, mortar fire, etc. because he's serving his country is particularly odious.

5. One of the few things potentially as odious as "4" would be to falsely claim that one had had an affair with the mother of two young children or to have a hand in the same. If it is uncovered that that is indeed the case, then those involved should be effectively anathematized from political life.

6. Haley has stated that she would resign if elected and it was later proved that she had been unfaithful to her husband, she'd resign. That's standing up to her opponents, and is praiseworthy.

The next few days (and, if there's a runoff -- and likely even if not) weeks should be interesting in this race!

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