Monday, January 12, 2004


My home state raises some interesting challenges for the 9 dwarves.
If you're a Democrat running for president, South Carolina isn't a battlefield: It's a minefield.

First you have to somehow slip past the Confederate-flag issue. (Oops! There goes Howard Dean). Then you have to step around the flag-inspired NAACP boycott — a boycott that Senator John Edwards's campaign handled courageously by saying that "while he would honor [it], that did not mean he necessarily supported it." (Boom.)

Then you've got the problem of being a northeastern liberal with a potty mouth in the most socially conservative state east of Utah (Sorry, Senator Kerry). Or you could run on your credentials as a champion of Big Labor, and all twelve of South Carolina's unionized employees will rally to your flag. (Goodbye, Representative Gephardt.)

Unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, black voters are a major part of the South Carolina Democratic coalition, so there's real opportunity to motivate them. You just have to be careful and not use race-baiting rhetoric that will alienate the state's other major constituency: moderate, white Democrats. (Adios, Al Sharpton.)

And, finally, after years of Strom Thurmonds and Fritz Hollingses, South Carolina voters like colorful, entertaining characters. You don't want to bore them into submission. (Can I get you your coat, Senator Lieberman?)

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