When the U.S. Supreme Court said is was unconstitutional to keep women out of the state-supported Virginia Military Institute, and by inference the Citadel, most of the defenders of the male-only tradition took it like gentlemen.
Attorney General Charlie Condon, never one to let legal, moral or ethical considerations cloud his political ambitions, pandered to the mob with a cryptic one liner. "We lost this case because we were defending single-gender, heterosexual education."
The next day, to insure that he had not offended the wrong people, Condon said, "I didn't dream anyone would read anything into this [statement] in a negative fashion. I understand that there are some people out there that say I am gay-bashing. That is not in the statement.
"What I was trying to say," the general said, muffled by the feet in his mouth, "is that the standard of equal protection is no longer equal. It's biased against normal people. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we bend over backwards to protect the rights of the accused, the rights of animals and yes, the rights of homosexuals. But if you represent the rights of the middle ground, the normal, the average, then you're ignored."
If you were disturbed by the actions of Greenville County Council recently, you don't want to hear about the county school board, which makes the council look downright rational.
Greenville County school board trustee and Christian Coalition stalwart Julie Hershey pulled the plug on the videotape series "The Power of Choice," which was being shown to middle school students.
The school board's Materials Review Committee disagreed with Hershey and said the "video series is an excellent way to get students to think about their choices and the consequences of those choices." Hershey apparently feels that if students are taught how to make choices they won't choose the only true path: her path.
The video, which posed choices like what do you do when you find someone's wallet, is still not available to Greenville School middle kids. Hershey objected to the program because it didn't tell the kids how to respond.
The Board, in another ruling that raises questions about their family values, changed the notification process for elementary school kids taking the "Talking About Touching" program. The course has been taught for four years by the Rape Crisis Network, with parents being given the opportunity to opt out of the program. Now parents must provide written permission for their kids to take the course.
Greenville School Board Chairman Joe Dill recently told a local radio audience that he was "chosen by God to bring about change in the system." Before Dill was divinely anointed, he had promised not to take the 140 percent salary increase he voted himself in 1993. District records indicate that Dill not only has been pocketing the raise, but also the increase he receives as chairman. Dill better hope that his constituents are as forgiving as his Boss.
Elliott Close's first TV commercials in his race for U.S. Senate against Strom Thurmond touted his grandfather's struggle to keep the family's textile mills open during the depression. Close is heir to the billion-dollar Springs textile industry, the state's largest private employer.
When the company announced it was shutting down three mills and laying off 850 workers, it strained Close's tenuous grasp on the blue collar vote.
"Elliott Close is a friend to American workers just like Colonel Sanders is a friend to chickens," said a UNITE spokesman. The union put the blame for the plant closings on Close, and used the opportunity to trash his Senate campaign.
Close's comments regarding the matter left supporters cringing. In one interview, he corrected a reporter's assertion that the company's stock went up six million dollars the day after the sale, it was really only about four million, he explained.
In another interview, Close urged people to relate to the plant closings as a "human tragedy" much like "the burning of black churches." It was a poorly chosen metaphor. Close had earlier turned down an invitation from Jesse Jackson to participate in a press event with President Clinton at a burned black church in Greelyville.
Close's claim that he didn't have anything to do with the company's decision on the closings carries more truth than the union believes. Close, like most of his family, doesn't have anything to do with the running of the company. Those searching for an explanation as to why the plant closings were announced during a critical time in Closes' political campaign are looking to the company's CEO, Walter Elisha.
Elisha, who took over the company after Close's father died in the late 1970s, may have been underscoring his displeasure with Close's campaign. Walters had been working on phasing out the unprofitable plants for a lot longer than Close had been considering being a politician. Acquaintances describe Elisha as a Republican who has supported Thurmond in the past.
If Close wanted to ignore Elisha's advice against seeking office, Walters had a built-in way to teach the young whippersnapper the harsh realities of corporate capitalism.
Thurmond hasn't attacked Close on the plant closing because the people who do his thinking know that he voted for shutting down the Charleston Navy Base, and they don't want that albatross dragged into the discussion.
The election may still be Close's to lose, but he had better start playing a smarter game soon. He should go for the votes Thurmond isn't going to get. They're a majority.
While considering why the Close campaign is flagging, it is instructive to look at one of the black horses the Democratic Party insists on riding. The white Democrats who seem content to roll out Sen. Darrel Jackson every time they need to address a "black issue" should check the senator's standing in his own district.
Jackson backed a looser in the District 70 house race between convicted felon and industry darling Jim Faber and incumbent Joe Neal. Several of Neal's volunteers in Sumter County said they were offered money that was connected to Jackson to change their allegiance.
Neal, the most outspoken House member on the environment and social justice issues, beat Faber by a two-to-one margin.
"The things that this administration views as religious, they have been willing to pursue at all costs," said a well-placed Republican when the Department of Public Safety scandal broke. "They have argued vehemently that the victims' issue is not only their cause but a vote-getter."
When the governor suspended DPS Director Boykin Rose, knowing tongues wagged that it was the latest chapter in a struggle over using federal grants for political favors. The argument wasn't over whether to do it, but who gets to dole out the pie.
When state government was restructured in 1993, authority over millions of dollars in federal law enforcement grants was moved from an independent agency to DPS. The same act gave the head of DPS a cabinet position that, once confirmed by the legislature, could be revoked by the governor only under extreme circumstances.
"Fighting over grant money is not one of the circumstances we envisioned that would give the governor power to remove a cabinet member," said Sen. John Long (D-Horry). In January, legislation was introduced that would give the Governor's Office control over the grants. Long led the fight to defeat the bill in the Senate. "What the governor couldn't accomplish in the legislature [controlling the federal law enforcement grants] his people were willing to accomplish through slight of hand, and they got caught at it," a source said.
It's no secret that the governor was trying to edge Boykin out of the picture; the question is how high up did the decision to forge Rose's name to the grant documents go? Recipients of at least several of the grants in question were staunch Beasleyites who were promised the money as a reward for their support.
One of the grants, worth close to a half-million dollars (with a questionable signature) was to the Victims Assistance Network, a nonprofit headed by Laura Hudson, the MADD woman who delivers her constituency to the GOP.
Another grant was to the Mauldin Police Department, Howell Clyborne's (a top adviser for the governor) stomping grounds.
If Beasley's top operatives, Clyborne and Will McCain, don't take the heat, the investigation may lead right to the governor.
The governor's decision to suspend Rose was allegedly predicated on Rose's refusal to immediately turn over all his files to Bart Daniels, hired by the governor to investigate the matter. Rose recognized Daniels' conflict of interest in presuming to represent both the governor and pursuit of the truth.
"The governor's office is potentially involved in criminal activities," said one Republican. "The governor is using tax dollars to establish his first line of defense. Is Bart Daniels' job to investigate the governor's role, or to defend the governor? Rose was certainly correct in refusing to turn over everything to Daniels after [Rose] had called in the FBI."
Noticeably silent in the controversy is the state attorney general. While Rose was asking the AG to take sides in the battle, so was the governor. Will McCain and Warren Tompkins (the real governor) were reportedly leaning on Condon as early as mid May to stay out of the mess.
Condon, who generally has an opinion on anything he believes will further his ambition, has been keeping his dog out of this fight. If the Feds find anything criminal in the Grants to Buddies Program, Condon will have egg on his face if he's lucky, and his name in the stack of criminal indictments if he's not.
Rep. Claude Marchbanks (R-Pickens) claims to have gotten the POINT at "approximately 7:00 a.m. on June 12, 1996 in his House mailbox."
In a memo to House Speaker David Wilkins, Marchbanks complained, "I consider this publication as complete garbage. The purpose of this memo is to suggest that the S.C. House initiate restrictive measures (possibly legislation) that would prohibit access to our offices with such distasteful material as this."
The POINT staff wants to take this opportunity to thank Rep. Marchbanks for his help in our membership drive. Nothing would make POINT a hotter commodity than being banned in the State House.
Mark Goodin, Strom Thurmond's campaign strategist, gave us a rare glimpse inside a big-time campaign recently. In a June 19 interview with a New York Times columnist about his failed campaign for Oliver North, Goodin said, "Look, the winners write the history on this stuff. And in the end the negative stuff sticks and it works. I should never have forgotten that."
And in a direct threat to the Close campaign he noted, "I won't ever make that mistake again."
If you're still not disgusted with politics, consider Goodin's impressions. "Getting people elected, whether we like it or not, is not pretty, but getting people elected has a lot to do with dividing. It's like busting a big rock. You try to chip off your place and then break the rest of it in so many smithereens that they don't matter. We provide daily entertainment. What we are not providing is serious solutions to what's going on in the country."
If this is a hint of things to come in the Thurmond-Close race, we can cancel our subscription to The National Enquirer.
This month's Sleazeball is a constitutional officer who threw a party on the last day of the legislature for members of that august body. While it was billed as a party held by all the constitutional officers, checks were to be made out to this Sleazebag.
The only Democratic state office holder wasn't consulted about how his name was being use and wasn't amused.
Be the first caller to identify this month's sleazeball and win a free trial subscription to POINT.
Last month's Sleazeball was the state representative who lead the fight against an African-American monument on the State House grounds and doesn't give a damn what you think about him, Jakie Knotts.