Only only only in

March 22, 2001 9:46 a.m.

Only, only, only in South Carolina!

In late 1999 and early 2000 I spent a couple months trying to nail down some suspicions of mine that Ralph Reed was getting ready to bludgeon John McCain down in South Carolina if his boss, George W. Bush, stumbled in New Hampshire.

He did stumble of course. And the Bush operation did bludgeon McCain with all sorts of scurrilous accusations. The main one I was trying to track down were hints that the Bush operation was planning on pushing the line that McCain was gay, or overly friendly toward gays.

And, yes, they did end up using this line of attack — memorably spreading word that McCain was the “fag candidate.”

Here’s one example of my efforts; here’s another article looking a little more broadly at Reed’s nasty South Carolina shenanigans.

Anyway, those South Carolinians are apparently at it again. Only now it’s Dems bashing Republicans!

Lindsey Graham is an extremely popular South Carolina politician; he’s a congressman now fixin’ (as they would say) to run for Strom Thurmond’s Senate seat. Most Americans know Graham — if they know him at all — as one of the House impeachment managers. From that you’d probably think Graham is pretty much a whacko. And to an extent you’d be right. But not entirely.

Graham was a big supporter of McCain in the primaries last year. But he’s also a big supporter of campaign finance reform and a number of other McCainite type reforms. So let’s just say he may be a right-wing whacko. But also one with some important redeeming qualities.

So anyway, as I said, he’s gearing up to run for Senator.

Recently, Dick Harpootlian, the head of the Democratic party down in South Carolina, issued a press release (and apparently also said in a number of speeches) that Lindsey was “a little too light in the loafers” to succeed Strom Thurmond. (Graham is 45 and unmarried, but denies he’s gay. And, as far as I know, there’s no reason to think that he is.) Graham accused Harpootlian of slander for insinuating that he was gay.

Harpootlian said he didn’t know the phrase had that connotation.

Anyway, now I read in the Southern Political Report that this isn’t the first time Harpootlian has pulled this stunt with Graham. So reads the March 12th issue of the Report

At a Democratic luncheon last year, Harpootlian said, “Congressman Lindsey Graham criticized President Clinton for ‘having sex with a woman in the Oval office.’ Now, I don’t know about you but I can’t tell what part he objected to — having sex with a young woman or having sex in the Oval office?”

Southern politics. Gotta love it.

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