“FOGHORN LEGHORN” HIGHLIGHTS THE INCESTUOUS NATURE OF SOUTH CAROLINA’S LATEST (AND POSSIBLY GREATEST) POLITICAL SCANDAL
S.C. lieutenant governor Henry McMaster has never been the sharpest tool in the shed. And as he’s gotten older, a lot of people have mistaken his rampant intellectual incuriosity and chronic mouth-breathing for early onset Alzheimer’s.
“Some days he shows up to work around 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon and doesn’t really know where he’s supposed to be going or what he’s supposed to be doing,” one source close to the politician told us.
Several S.C. Senators have also told us McMaster’s lack of situational awareness when presiding over the chamber has been a contributing factor to its elevated dysfunction in recent years.
For the record, we don’t think McMaster is senile. For one to lose their marbles, there had to have been a point where they had them in the first place.
Over the last few days McMaster has bumbled, stumbled and fumbled into a starring role in the political comic tragedy we’ve come to refer to as “Probe-gate” (or #ProbeGate for the cool kids on Twitter).
“Probe-gate” is the saga of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson‘s ongoing, unnervingly dramatic fall from grace. It’s the sad tale of a one-time crusader against public corruption becoming the embodiment of the very evil he vowed to eradicate.
Or worse … it’s the increasingly unavoidable realization that Wilson duped all of us into thinking he was something he wasn’t, burnishing his image as a crusader by picking off those politicians who hindered the advancement of his neo-Confederate cronies. Oh … and then actively sabotaging efforts to hold those cronies accountable when it became clear they were guilty of far worse crimes than the corrupt politicians he previously took down.
Of course we’ve been saying that for months now …
Anyway, into this very serious drama McMaster has waded … first as background scenery for Wilson’s disastrous press conference last week (a failed attempt to rationalize his behavior) and more recently as a participant in Wilson’s similarly botched effort to turn his shameful obstructionism into some sort of partisan pissing match.
The entrance of McMaster’s character has provided us with some long-overdue comic relief in this drama. After all, it’s hard not to chuckle at the appearance of a man whose trademark guffaw has earned him the nickname “Foghorn Leghorn” around the S.C. State House? Also, it’s entertaining to think about someone including McMaster’s dim bulb in some high-level political conspiracy, isn’t it?
This guy probably can’t even spell conspiracy, let alone participate in one.
McMaster offered a predictably ineloquent – albeit revealing – response to his participation in the failed politicization of this high-stakes legal drama.
“A whole lot of us were at a fundraiser for Rick Quinn Tuesday night, before the news conference on Wednesday,” McMaster told The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.
Hold up … a fundraiser for Rick Quinn?
Quinn, of course, is one of several state lawmakers Wilson is believed to be covering for by obstructing the investigation of S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe. Quinn’s firm also represents Wilson’s political interests – and McMaster’s political interests (most of the time). Without even thinking about it, McMaster has laid bare the fundamentally incestuous nature of this scandal.
So … what went down at this fundraiser?
“There were a lot of people there,” McMaster said. “I don’t know what everyone else was talking about.”
Foghorn doesn’t know what was said? No shocker there … if McMaster has even the faintest inkling of what planet he’s on, it’s a good day for him.
The thick-accented, thicker-skulled “Republican” later told the paper he agreed to appear at Wilson’s press conference because he thought he would be standing up “for the authority and the integrity of the state grand jury.”
Most people’s read on this saga is that Wilson has usurped the grand jury authority he previously delegated to Pascoe – and in the process obliterated the integrity of the institution (perhaps deliberately).
While the high stakes battle over the grand jury heads to the S.C. Supreme Court (we think), there’s another drama involving McMaster to keep a close eye on … the political component to all this.
A little over a month ago, McMaster made a very public, very high-profile break with the Quinns when he endorsed the presidential campaign of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. One of McMaster’s closest long-time political confidants – Trey Walker – was very public in rebuking his former boss over that endorsement.
But did he protest too much?
Walker and McMaster have clearly reconciled … and McMaster’s appearance at Quinn’s fundraiser (and at Wilson’s press conference) suggests those fences have mended, too.
But have they?
Sources tell us there may still be bad blood within this once tight-knit political family, and that bad blood may be one of the driving forces of this entire scandal.
Stay tuned for much more on that in future installments …