Picking on the wrong pinata

S.C. AFL-CIO President Donna Dewitt takes a baseball bat to a piñata emblazoned with Gov. Nikki Haley's face and one of her go-to talking points: “Unions are not needed, wanted or welcome in South Carolina.”

Political bashing took on a broader meaning in South Carolina Saturday as the state AFL-CIO president took a baseball bat to a pinata made up to look like Gov. Nikki Haley.

The smash-fest was held at a picnic following the South Carolina Progressive Network’s spring conference in West Columbia. Donna Dewitt, who has been the AFL-CIO’s state head for 16 years, emphasized that it wasn’t a union event.

“It was all fun and games, and there was certainly no ill intent,” she said after video of her mock mayhem surfaced Tuesday.

A national AFL-CIO spokeswoman, in contrast, said it was an inappropriate joke.

Certainly there is a limited amusement value in even put-on violence against political leaders, considering all the real violence along those lines that the nation has experienced.

Think Gabby Giffords. And while the event might not have had the official union seal of approval, it certainly had a strong union message.

The pinata had a paste-up face of Gov. Haley and a cartoon balloon, in which the governor is making this memorable statement: “Unions are not necessary, wanted or needed in South Carolina.”

Ms. Dewitt had a cheering section in the background, urging her on with cries of delight. “Whack her! ... Hit her again! ... Wait until her face comes around!”

Meanwhile, a video of the “festivities” has become a minor hit on the Internet. As of Wednesday night, YouTube had recorded more than 25,000 viewings.

And while Ms. Dewitt thinks it’s all a big joke, the governor might have the last laugh.

She’s using the video as a fund-raising tool, urging supporters to pony up $50 to $250 to her re-election war chest to “show big labor we will not stand for their bullying.”

The governor added, “I wonder if the unions think this kind of thing will make people take them seriously.”

Unwittingly, Ms. Dewitt threw our politically savvy governor what amounted to a softball straight down the middle for her to hit out of the park.