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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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 :: Jonathan Pait
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The Bluffton Event
Jonathan Pait
May 16, 2002 has been accused of being The site has been called a "shill" for Bob Peeler. Now, people are beginning to think that the editor is a "Sanford-Supporter." I take that to mean we must be doing something right!

Boy, is it ever tempting to weigh in and make articles personal-to get away from the issues and focus on the personalities. I'm not saying there isn't a place for such discussions. I'm simply saying that I do not see that as the role of the editor of this site. I'll leave that for the readers to take care of in the discussion sections.

However, I must admit that I find Sanford's recent attendance at the "Bluffton event" to be somewhat intriguing. Jimmy calls it the Sanford campaign's Kiss of Death. At the risk of now being called a Sanford "shillster" (I know it isn't a word), I would like to take a look at it.

First, the fact is that Sanford did not sponsor or organize the event. The event was sponsored by the Beaufort County Republican Party (look for a correction soon in the Island Packet). Now, a valid point could be made that it wasn’t politically wise for Sanford to appear at the shindig, but it is incorrect to say he sponsored or helped organize the event. Politicians are showing up in many places where politically minded people gather. It is a way to press the flesh and make contacts.

Second, "The Kiss" gives us some further insight into why Sanford would be at the event. John McCain is a former colleague and, I would assume current friend of Mark Sanford. I have friends like that; friends with whom I do not agree on many points, but personally we hit it off. We may have connected at some gathering or shared a common hobby. I look forward to seeing them when I get a chance and enjoy their company-this doesn't mean I would have them speak for me.

However, what most McCain haters want is for Sanford to not only repudiate his support for McCain in 2000 (which he has) but to treat McCain the same way they do (which he doesn't). Here those issues come up, "Sanford hates the sin but loves the sinner" or "Sanford can be known by the company he keeps."

Last, I have to disagree with Jimmy that the "The Kiss" is a kiss of death. Those who are most offended by Sanford's attendance at the event viewed it as more of a confirmation than a realization. For many of them; good, loyal and activist Republicans, the call is for a scorched earth approach to anyone who supported McCain against George Bush. With them, Sanford's current campaign for Governor was doomed in 2000-not at the Bluffton event.

Perhaps that about Sanford intrigues me. The seeming visceral hatred that people have for him makes me look with some suspicion on the attacks against him. That is why I invariably look for the explanation that answers the attacks. Further intrigue comes in the fact that the more I look into the explanations, the more I find that many of the attacks are based in half-truths and misinterpretations.

I am not defending Sanford's attendance. I personally do not think it was the right political move. Even if he was simply attending it as a gubernatorial candidate, it didn't work in his favor that he was the only one of seven who showed up. Even if Sanford was simply taking the opportunity to visit with an old colleague or friend, he must have known how it would be received. Sanford keeps giving us reasons to question him. It all just boils down to the conclusions at which you arrive.

Is Sanford a closet liberal who is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of conservative Republicans?

Is Sanford an independent, but true conservative who operates outside of the Republican establishment?

For now, I am simply intrigued with the questions.

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