BY FRANK WOOTEN
With apologies to the Bard:
What’s in a name?
Well, in politics, what’s much too often in a name is name-calling.
And when the names called are lowdown enough, you might even call it mud-slinging.
For instance, on Tuesday night, after Mark Sanford’s victory over Curtis Bostic in the 1st Congressional District Republican runoff was assured, state GOP chairman Chad Connelly issued a statement congratulating both candidates “for conducting themselves with such dignity during the process.”
But hey, dignity is for primaries, not general elections. So Connelly added this shot at Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch:
“Voters in the 1st District are smart — they know that ‘businesswoman’ and ‘centrist’ are political spin used to mask Lulu Colbert Busch’s real record as an overpaid liberal educrat who is out of touch with Lowcountry values. Just as they rejected Barack Obama by almost 20 percent in 2012, Lowcountry voters will reject liberal darling and Obama disciple Colbert Busch in 2013.”
OK, so Lulu was Colbert Busch’s childhood nickname. So she is still called Lulu by her famous brother Stephen Colbert, who calls Sanford a “renowned hike-lover.”
Yet who’s Connelly, or anybody else, to say who’s “overpaid”?
Clemson’s paying Dabo Swinney a lot more than it’s paying Colbert Busch, and he’s lost four straight to the dreaded Gamecocks.
And did Connelly really have to use that dirty word “liberal” twice?
As for “educrat” and “Obama disciple,” that’s far enough on the offensive-language path.
After all, this is a family newspaper.
Still, if rancorous rhetoric makes you squeamish, you might want to skip the rest of this column.
That’s because casting those on the other side of the political fence as fools, frauds, scoundrels or worse is a bipartisan habit that extends far beyond the 1st District.
For example, President Barack Obama, in an interview with Rolling Stone last October, called Mitt Romney a word that can’t be printed here. But here’s a clue: The word rhymes with, and is spelled with only one letter different than, “bullspitter.”
That was a particularly galling label coming from a president who billed his massively unaffordable health care takeover as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
And during last year’s successful demonization of Romney, he wasn’t just called a “bull----ter” by Obama. He was smeared by a SuperPac commercial as a greedy tycoon responsible for a cancer-stricken woman’s death due to a loss of insurance. He also was subjected in August to this false charge by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “The word’s out that he hasn’t paid any taxes for 10 years.”
Back to this year: During last Sunday’s service at Washington’s St. John’s Episcopal Church, Obama heard the Rev. Luis Leon vent this righteous wrath at Christian conservatives:
“It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back ... for blacks to be back in the back of the bus ... for women to be back in the kitchen ... for immigrants to be back on their side of the border.”
Gee, Happy Easter to you, too, preacher man.
Of course, Obama has been called plenty of derogatory names, too.
Numerous right-wing broadcasters routinely brand him a “communist.”
Radio star Mark “The Great One” Levin, though, generally sticks with the “Marxist” tag on Obama.
Levin also frequently condemns our state’s senior senator as insufficiently conservative. Last month, he declared that “Goober Lindsey Graham is a disaster.” Levin also likened him to a former (now deceased) Pennsylvania senator deplored by many conservatives as the quintessential RINO (Republican In Name Only):
“Lindsey Graham is the Arlen Specter of South Carolina.”
Levin did add, though, that Jim DeMint was “one of the great senators of modern times,” and that Tim Scott “will be a great senator.”
Levin apparently wasn’t too bothered by our “great senator” DeMint quitting the job for which we elected him with four years left in his second term.
But if you’re a sensitive sort easily bothered by being called ugly names, don’t go into politics. Because in the not-so-grand scheme of partisan maligning, Connelly calling Colbert Busch “Lulu,” “overpaid” and even an “Obama disciple” was relatively mild.
Then again, “liberal” and “educrat” are fighting words in these parts.
And if anybody calls you a “fascist,” “redistributionist,” “Trotskyite,” “imperialist,” “illegal immigrant,” “bridge run cheater” or some other hurtful name, turn the tables with this curt comeback that still works for all ages:
“I know you are, but what am I?”
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.