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Mark Shields
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A South Carolina Giant

Comment

One of the real pluses of the South Carolina primary was the chance to tap into the fresh wisdom of an authentic American giant, the 90-years-young Fritz Hollings.

A vintage sample from an earlier speech: "Having been governor, I am frequently asked the difference of being a governor and senator. As governor, if you want to raise revenue, you raise taxes. As senator, if you want to raise revenue, you cut taxes. In Washington, you become smart. You become an economist and learn to stimulate the economy by cutting taxes. And promising not to raise taxes will guarantee your re-election."

That's the kind of candor absent from our 2012 presidential campaign, drowning in self-righteousness, and typical of the politically incorrect candor Fritz Hollings as South Carolina governor and U.S. senator for 38 years dispensed so generously.

In the 1986 Senate campaign, when Hollings' Republican opponent, a crime-busting prosecutor known for convicting marijuana vendors, challenged him to take a drug test, Hollings won the exchange by responding, "I'll take a drug test if you take an IQ test."

But Fritz Hollings was always a lot more than the master of one-liners. In 1963, when the states of Mississippi and Alabama, governed respectively by Ross Barnett and George C. Wallace, were combat zones of bayonets and brutality in the bloody struggle for civil rights, South Carolina was led by a different kind of man. To his state and its legislature, Gov. Hollings demanded — and got — peaceable change: "This general assembly must make clear South Carolina's choice, a government of laws rather than a government of men. ... We of today must realize the lesson of 100 years ago, and move on for the good of South Carolina and our United States. This should be done with dignity. It must be done with law and order."

Personally, I admire Fritz Hollings for the failed campaign he ran for the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination.

Hollings was that rarest candidate who dared to tell voters the unvarnished truth as he saw it. No panderer he, candidate Hollings went before the New Hampshire primary to that state's Ivy League school, Dartmouth College, where he told his privileged student audience: "I want to draft everyone in this room for the good of the country." The crowd was silent. Not, he explained, the "old Vietnam-style draft, where if you had enough money, you were either in college or Canada." Why? "Conscience tells us that we need a cross-section of Americans in our armed forces. Defense is everybody's business ... everybody's responsibility."

Hollings dared to call for common sacrifice for the common good. To a national convention of senior citizens — a group used to being toadied to by candidates — Hollings, a committed deficit hawk, spoke not of what was owed to them, but instead of the seniors' obligation "to your children and grandchildren." Then he vowed the politically unspeakable. "If I'm elected, I will freeze your cost-of-living adjustments for a year."

On Capitol Hill, Hollings, a decorated combat veteran of World War II, told a meeting of defense contractors who were prospering from President Reagan's doubling of the Pentagon budget: "If I'm elected, I will freeze the defense budget at 3 percent real growth and do away with the MX (missile) and the B-1 (bomber)." When he lost that race, he cracked: "Thomas Wolfe was wrong — 'you can go home again.' I know. That's what the people of New Hampshire told me to do."

Today, just as engaged and as passionate as ever, Fritz Hollings writes a regular column for The Huffington Post, where he condemns the excessive influence of money in politics as well as the financial, business and establishment interests, often by name, that sacrifice American jobs and families on the altar of a quick buck. In Washington, his absence continues to leave a lonely place against the sky.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

COPYRIGHT 2012 MARK SHIELDS



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
Michael Beschloss's"Presidential Courage" quotes FDR page81, 'government by organized money isjust as dangerous as government by organized mob." (footnote) I wonder how many Wall street movement folks have gone to jail compared to the rascals on Wall Street who created this greedy mess? It makes you wonder where on the fire hydrant we want to cling for life while the trickle down economics decends upon us ? Another point is why the administration never pointed out the national defense benefit to saveing General motots and chrysler assembly lines operating if we needed to mobilize for war?
Comment: #1
Posted by: pat murphy
Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:21 PM
Michael Beschloss's"Presidential Courage" quotes FDR page81, 'government by organized money isjust as dangerous as government by organized mob." (footnote) I wonder how many Wall street movement folks have gone to jail compared to the rascals on Wall Street who created this greedy mess? It makes you wonder where on the fire hydrant we want to cling for life while the trickle down economics decends upon us ? Another point is why the administration never pointed out the national defense benefit to saveing General motots and chrysler assembly lines operating if we needed to mobilize for war?
Comment: #2
Posted by: pat murphy
Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:21 PM
Sir; Judging from the recent campaigns, and even the state of the union address; the last thing Americans want to hear is the truth... It killed Jimmy Carter as candidate, and others as well... No candidate dares to be candid... Truth is something they tell only so much as it will hurt others... What the people desire is candidate who will lead them in denial, who will assert a vision of America long past and gone who will do all within his power to retrieve their collective vision from oblivion... It is a dangerous game the conservatives play, but it is a game the democrats play out of necessity... If we had government of the people the people would have no reason to lie to itself, and in fact, to do right, to do justice, and to do well the people must know, and speak the truth... Denied the truth in part, we can hope for the next best thing: to be denied the truth entirely and to be protected from it... We have all had enough dust blown up our butts by polititions to fill a ball field...We only demand more...Half the truth will not save us, but all bullshet all the time can blind us to our fate until it is too late to resist... I know that it is easy to look at the sorry state of this confused population, and say that we are incapable of self government... I think, that if politicians did not try so to deny us the truth of our condition that we would soon learn on our own the results of ill considered actions, and that with the fact we could learn to face our futures boldly and bravely... Denied the truth we are denied democracy, and denied democracy we are denied our future, the future of American greatness that was promised with our independence, and we have only our memories of the past laced with deadly nostalgia, and we give our votes to those who best promise this dangerous drug to us...It is inevitable that politicians will offer us the past in order to own our future, but they should consider the danger... The future holds death for us all, and the only way for those brave enough to grab the future by the tail and subdue the beast is to enlist the help of those who most fear it, and who seek to escape it, by promising that in so doing they will recapture the past whole...It was the desire to capture again a mythic past that made the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the English Revolution, and our own revolution good... If we want what is best for this people, for them to enjoy the best part of the past, we must be willing to together seek it in the future because the past is forever denied to all of us... Thanks and keep up the good work... Sweeney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:20 AM
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