Veterans of South Carolina politics have been waiting and wondering what the last minute stunt would be leading up to Saturday’s First-in-the-South bellwether Republican primary. I predicted it would be a Confederate flag stunt and begged the Ron Paul campaign to make his positions on the War Between the States better known, early on.
The stunt ads came out today in South Carolina. They attack McCain and Romney for going against the Confederate flag and calling it all of the typical politically correct names: racist, bigoted, hatred. Then they talk about how Governor Huckabee feels when he sees a pickup truck with a Confederate flag on it. It just makes him so proud to be a Southerner! Shame on those who would disparage those who wore the gray!
Referendum after referendum all across the South proves that this kind of thing makes voters fall in love with you. Three-to-one in South Carolina in 1996 voted to keep the flag atop the State House dome. Two-to-one in Mississippi a few years ago voted to keep their Confederate canton in their flag. Georgia, Virginia, and Missouri have shown the same patterns when the issue arose. Surveys say 14 to 18 percent of Southerners would prefer that their states secede, today.
These new radio ads are a ridiculous attempt to exploit the good sympathies of South Carolinians for a totally dishonest and fraudulent candidate. All along, Huckabee has said his liberal stance on illegal immigration is brought on by his desire to make atonement for slavery, “a second chance for America to get right with God.” He has, himself, over and over, repeatedly used all of the same politically correct slurs against the Confederate flag—not to mention grandstanding for the NAACP.
Not only does this last minute ploy attempt to align Confederate flag voters with a bad and fraudulent candidate, but it plays into the national stereotype that those who like the Confederate flag will support a megalomaniac Big Government Liberal Republican. In South Carolina, this means State Senators like Jake Knotts and David Thomas, and Attorney General Henry McMaster. The ad takes the Confederate flag away from Lynyrd Skynyrd and hands it to Billy Sunday (the famed fundamentalist preacher, who, by the way, was from Iowa and whose father was a Yankee soldier). Or, more specifically, rather than Billy Sunday, it puts the flag in the hands of Jimmy Carter Part Deux. What a mistake.
Beyond that, the ad is misleading. It is paid for by a well-known lobbyist for foreign arms deals. Perhaps this individual, who will remain anonymous here, believes that Huckabee will be McCain’s vice president, and can be a convenient personal ally in selling arms to Middle-eastern warlords.
Why not go ahead and let the Southern Heritage supporters support their natural ally, Ron Paul? After all, he defended their cause, top to bottom, on Meet the Press, Morning Joe, and Bill Maher’s show. For Ron Paul, it’s part of an overarching philosophy that rejects New York City neoconservative political correctness, the real American enemy. For him, it’s not just a brief ploy that he will ditch on Sunday morning, after the South Carolina primary, when presumably, Mike Huckabee will give a speech on the many virtues of Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Monday, Hillary and Obama will be giving speeches on the South Carolina State House steps, in a contest to see who can hate the Confederate flag the most. It will be flying right in front of them, at the center of the State House grounds, and Southern Heritage protesters will be waving their flags. Get ready for a circus.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Huckabee continued in his dishonest takeover of evangelical Republicans in South Carolina. All of the candidates were told (on tape) that none of them would be permitted to address this week’s South Carolina pastor’s convention in downtown Columbia, South Carolina.
On Wednesday morning, Tim LaHaye introduced Huckabee to the convention, who then gave his own speech. Questions have been raised over whether this kind of tactic was legal. In the long haul of the South Carolina campaign, it is a perfect representation of the Huckabee South Carolina strategy: Lie for as long as you can. Tell no one that you support Huckabee. Then unleash all of the endorsements during the final hour. It’s the perfect straw man for the Left: the “Christian leader” whose supporters’ greatest strength is their capacity to lie, lie, and lie.
After being called out time after time in South Carolina for supporting Huckabee, evangelical leaders such as Oran Smith, president of Jim Dobson’s South Carolina Focus on the Family affiliate, the Palmetto Family Council, have insisted that they are not supporting Huckabee. Not to mention South Carolina Lt. Governor (and the ultimate Confederate flag sellout) Andre Bauer. And also consultant Rod Shealy; political goons and flag sellouts David Beasley (former governor and U.S. Senate candidate) and Mike Campbell (son of our Reagan-era governor and candidate for Lt. Governor and personal friend of George H.W. Bush). All the while, their names were on press releases announcing Huckabee events, and they went out of their way to stifle Ron Paul’s efforts, in particular. The same strategy is true of Dobson himself, if you remember his Research Family Council straw poll in Washington, D.C., last September.
So, while South Carolinians are falling in love with Mike Huckabee—and they sure do love him in that red sweater Christmas TV commercial—they had better wake up. If they think McCain exploited them in 2000, they ain’t seen nothing yet.
Huckabee’s numbers in South Carolina are rising as a result of the bogus radio ad. Southerners expecting to make an ally with someone who’s going somewhere are going to be miffed. As soon as Fred finishes getting just enough votes to palliate an embarrassing showing for McCain against Huckabee and Romney, he’s going to drop out and endorse the Mac.
That’s been the neocon plan from the beginning. Fred’s voting record is rated four points lower than McCain’s by the American Conservative Union. He’s only pretending, as actors do, to be a conservative, just long enough to do the hit job.
Who gets anything out of this ridiculous radio ad stunt? Complicit in the deal were many of the leaders of Southern Heritage activism, including the Commander-in-Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. They will be the biggest losers in Saturday’s election.
Tim Manning is Assistant Editor of Southern Partisan magazine and Vice President of Publications of the Foundation for American Education. His views do not necessarily represent those of his employers.