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According to S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham was “ecstatic” when he learned of her “Savannah River Sellout,” a controversial accommodation of the state of Georgia’s port expansion plans that will severely undermine the Port of Charleston’s competitive position and impede the development of a deepwater port in Jasper County, S.C.

Haley made the claim regarding Graham in an op-ed article published Sunday in The Charleston Post and Courier – her latest attempt to mitigate this mushrooming scandal.

(For more on Haley’s incessant spin doctoring, click here and here).

Graham – a longtime “Republican In Name Only” – has been providing political cover for Haley since her latest (greatest?) scandal began.

Why?

We’re not sure … but he’s clearly backing the wrong horse on this issue (a horse with a 34.6 percent approval rating, according to the latest numbers).

Over the last eight years, the Port of Charleston has dropped from No. 4 to No. 12 in the nation in terms of container traffic. During that time, state leaders have refused to allow private companies to invest in any additional infrastructure in the Holy City – or construct a new port facility in Jasper.

Instead we’ve stuck to a failed “total state control” model that shuts out private investment and keeps jobs from coming to our state.

Anyway, now that Charleston finally has a chance to make up some of the ground it has lost to Savannah, Haley has given away that competitive advantage – apparently for a few thousand bucks and a speaking slot at the 2012 GOP convention. Not only that, her appointees to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) board have done so in such a way as to effectively eliminate any chance of a Jasper facility being constructed.

Here’s the deal – while Charleston needs to have its harbor deepened, it can already handle the newer ships. Savannah can’t.

Not only is Haley making sure that Charleston’s competing port is able to keep up, her decision guarantees that U.S. taxpayers (including several million right here in South Carolina) will be on the hook for the Savannah expansion project rather than permitting private money to build in Jasper.

And all of that makes Graham “ecstatic?”

Sheesh …

Haley’s strategy for handling this ongoing controversy has been to repeat ad nauseam that our state got a great deal – which is about as accurate as her claiming to be “transparent.” Or “fiscally conservative.”

All of which leads us to believe that if he keeps sticking with Haley on this deal, Lindsey Graham’s “ecstasy” will soon turn into “agony.”

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