It's been a rough seven months for South Carolina politicians. In June, Gov. Mark Sanford absconded to Argentina with his mistress without telling anyone in the state government (the Wire covered the fallout here, here, and here). Two months later, Republican House member Joe Wilson shouted "You lie" during an address from President Obama to a joint session of Congress, sparking rebukes from both sides of the aisle (covered by the Wire here, here, and here).
The latest Palmetto State gaffe comes from Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer, a leading Republican candidate for governor. Last week, he compared poor people to animals during a discussion on giving students free lunches. When confronted by an irate public, his apologized by saying "I used the wrong metaphor."
Bauer's inflammatory comments and non-apology apology has led to a horde of angry denunciations from the blogosphere (and a pair of smackdowns from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, shown below). Some pundits have been particularly scathing.
- Real "Compassionate" Conservatism "Wow. It’s not often that you get to hear what a politician actually thinks," declares True/Slant's Megan Cottrell, who is nonetheless horrified by Bauer's brief moment of candor. "So, I guess when the poor do breed, we should just stop feeding them?" she asks.
"Or I guess send them to the pound and gas them to death when we can’t
find anything else to do with them?"
- Beyond Un-PC, He's Out of Touch "Let's be absolutely clear, here: Bauer's remarks are not appalling
because they're offensive or 'un-PC' or a Biden-esque 'oops!'" writes New York Magazine's Lindsay Robertson. "They're
reprehensible because this man who currently holds office in South
Carolina and is making a bid to run the state is demonstrating beyond a
shadow of a doubt that he doesn't possess even the very most basic understanding of the biggest problem in his state, which is poverty." Forget being genteel about poverty--Robertson argues that "South Carolina deserves a leader who at least knows what it is."
- He's Also Wrong "Let’s set aside the pure viciousness of that statement and address what Bauer claims is his larger point," begins the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman before launching into a discussion of welfare and poverty. Bookman succinctly debunks Bauer's larger point that cutting off subsidies to the poor will decrease poverty.
Human poverty has existed in every culture and era, without exception.
It is a constant of human existence, a pre-existing condition, so to
speak. No matter what Bauer chooses to believe, government did not
create it. South Carolina, for example, was mired in deep poverty long
before school-lunch programs and welfare programs existed.