Right now, I can't decide who is more gutless, Bobby Harrell or the folks at the Post and Courier who allowed the speaker to spin his way out of yesterday's paranoid conspiracy yarn.
First of all, let me backtrack. Yesterday, Harrell called up WTMA's Tara Servatius for a chat, and in it, the House speaker said without hesitation that the powers that be were conspiring against him. The reason: they were just tired of having all of the power in the Statehouse in the hands of a few Charlestonians. According to audio from the interview, Harrell said:
"I think this is a political event. I think that what is going on is that ah — to be perfectly blunt, we used to have the President of the Senate from Charleston, the Speaker of the House from Charleston, and the governor from down here,” he said. “We had a lot of folks in powerful positions down here. By removing Ken Ard, folks from around the state were able to relieve Charleston of having the president of the Senate. I think folks are coming after the Speaker of the House now, because I haven't done anything wrong.”
Seems pretty cut and dry, yeah? Harrell clearly believes that "they" orchestrated the entire Ken Ard scandal in an effort to strip power away from the Holy City; after all, the man who was forced to take Ard's place was none other than Charleston native and then-Senate President Glenn McConnell, who, at the time, was the single most powerful man in state politics. And just like "they" had gone after Ard, "they" were now going after Harrell.
Now, I don't care if that's the case or not. It might be. It might not be.
Truth be told, I don't believe in conspiracies, only opportunities for opportunity-minded opportunists. And I would imagine Harrell does as well. But when he's speaking to the anti-government populists who regularly tune into WTMA it's wise to paint any crisis before you as one between you and a malevolent cadre of power-mad politicians, bureaucrats, and big business interests with an appetite for your own personal and political destruction. If there's one thing this particular strain of Republican understands, it's victimization. It's the very prism from which they view the entire world.
And like many, but not all, of those who delight in perpetrating cheap-seat disenchantments, Harrell was apparently shocked to discover that other media outlets took notice of his sordid story.
First, there was the S.C. Radio Network, and then there was the P&C. But while S.C. Radio spread this story
as is — the speaker of the House claimed he was being targeted by dark forces, egads — the daily paper decided to play a different role in the affair. They would allow Harrell to spin his way out of this narcissistic misstep. And in order to do this they would not only give Harrell free reign to reimagine his WTMA interview, they colluded with him to cover his tracks. The P&C reports
Asked Tuesday about his comments on the radio program, Harrell said that the theory was one that other Charleston Republicans have advocated. "I've had a number of people from the Lowcountry tell me that they think that's what's going on and that's what I was trying to express on the radio," he said.
Harrell said he does not believe the theory. "I don't think there's anything that organized going on," he said. "But I am hearing that just about everywhere I go in the Lowcountry."
How shall I put this? Oh. I know. To be perfectly blunt, Bobby Harrell is a gutless gremlin who is trying to pilot his rapidly plummeting political career from crashing and burning in heap of ethical, if not criminal, wreckage and he's willing to put on the blame on anybody but himself.
Now, the P&C shouldn't care whether Harrell's career goes up in flames, nor should they relish it, except from the position that a good government scandal will bring in new readers. However, one thing they shouldn't be doing is trying to put those flames out by refusing to challenge the speaker's revisionist recollection of his radio interview and by clearly ignoring the most damning statement he made. The P&C noted:
Harrell told radio station WTMA that he may have been "targeted" in order to weaken Charleston's influence in the Statehouse, according to S.C. Radio Network. "We used to have the President of the Senate (Glenn McConnell) from Charleston, the Speaker of the House from Charleston, and (Governor Sanford) was from down here," he said to host Tara Servatius. "We had a lot of folks in powerful positions from down here."
The thing is Harrell didn't say he may have been targeted. He said that he was being targeted. Even worse, he claimed that a conspiracy conspired against Ken Ard for the sole purpose of removing Glenn McConnell from his top Statehouse post — but the P&C carefully ignored that. And by doing so, they added credence to Harrell's careful clarification.
But as much as the speaker may want to change history, and no matter how willing the P&C is to go along with it, the internet never forgets. We know what Bobby Harrell said, and make no mistake, we know exactly what he meant. “They” are out to get him — just like “they” came after Ken Ard. That Harrell sees a similarity between his case and the disgraced lieutenant governor’s says it all.