Michael Crowley has an interesting article up on the New Republic site discussing the unsavory past and present of South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, featuring an array of consultants and operatives who apparently learned the dark arts of smearing opponents at the knee of the late Lee Atwater. Unlike 2000, when virtually all of the nasty stuff was aimed at John McCain, it looks like most of the candidates this time around are getting down into the gutter, or at least allowing their Palmetto State supporters to do so. (BTW, I was dismayed to learn that one of the “haunts” of S.C. Republican operatives is Lizard Thicket, that excellent Columbia-based purveyor of southern fried foods).
But the really scary note comes at the end of Crowley’s piece:
As [GOP consultant Rod] Shealy notes, “The anonymity of the Internet is going to take the whole game to a new and much lower level than thought possible.” Last April, one anonymous blog–“McCain SC,” the “Unofficial Home for Palmetto State McCainiacs”–hawked a New York tabloid story alleging that Giuliani’s wife Judith was “involved in a program that killed innocent puppies” to test medical products. It sounds like the McCain team may have learned its lesson back in 2000, and now knows the secret to victory: When in South Carolina, do as the South Carolinians do.
We’re all used to conservatives calling their pro-choice fellow citizens “baby-killers.” But puppy-killers? That’s cold.