This week’s edition of the Palmetto Political Stock Index is a day late … but by no means a dollar short. If anything, the extra 24 hours gave our dynamic duo of South Carolina prognosticators a bit of extra time to read the tea leaves during yet another jam-packed week for presidential prospects and state-level politicians.
The past seven (well, eight) days saw the first visit of a major Republican challenger – and the first real dip in our index for the GOP frontrunner. Our latest balance sheet also profiles some political courage from the South Carolina GOP congressional delegation (well, most of it) – and a lack of courage on the part of the state’s status quo governor.
The Palmetto Political Stock Index is compiled weekly by our founding editor Will Folks and our political columnist Mark Powell. Got a hot “stock tip” for their consideration? Email Will (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/ or Mark (email@example.com). Just make sure to include “Palmetto Political Stock Index” in the subject line.
Remember, our installment is simply a reflection of how individuals (or institutions) fared over the past week. It doesn’t necessarily root for candidates – or against them. Positive reports certainly don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones don’t indicate a vendetta. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em. To borrow Walter Cronkite’s famous line, “That’s the way it is….” No more, no less.
So who’s up and who’s down this week? Let’s find out where you should invest your political capital …
Politics is all about momentum. And so far during the 2024 presidential election cycle, Florida governor Ron DeSantis has had it … and lost it. Well, if his latest visit to the Palmetto State is any indication, “Uncle Mo” is solidly back on Team DeSantis’ side.
The top rival to U.S president Donald Trump held three events in South Carolina on Friday – all of them exceedingly well-attended and brimming with the sort of organic crowd energy that makes campaign aides get goosebumps.
Dinged by some critics for allegedly having a persistent personality deficit disorder, DeSantis certainly didn’t appear to be afflicted with any such condition on his Palmetto State swing. In addition to firing up the faithful in Bluffton, Gilbert and Greenville, S.C., DeSantis showed a willingness to mix it up with his critics.
After being cursed by a ‘woke’ heckler at his stop in Gilbert for his opposition to pornography in schools (who knew people opposed that?), DeSantis fired back aggressively.
“We’re not gonna let you impose an agenda on our kids,” he shouted as the GOP faithful in attendance roared their approval. “We’re gonna stand up for our kids!”
“Those people like that in Florida are the people we beat every single day on policy,” DeSantis continued. “We do not let them win. We win all these battles. We’re not letting them indoctrinate our kids. Not on our watch.”
DeSantis was already feeling his oats before the heckler interrupted him, but the shout-down showed he was not only ready – but perhaps even spoiling – for a fight. Does that sound like someone with personality deficit disorder to you?
When Joe Biden launched his thinly veiled wealth redistribution scheme earlier this year (which he tried to hide behind the “social justice” fig leaf), there was much outrage. In a take-from-the-rich-and-give-to-the-poor scam straight out of Robin Hood, his “loan level pricing adjustment” penalizes responsible homeowners with good credit by raising their borrowing fees while giving that money to those with poor credit.
We’re not talking chump change here, either. Under Biden’s plan, if you have good credit, you’ll pay an extra $500 a year — more than $14,000 extra over a 30-year mortgage.
This week, 18 Republican governors pushed back in a group protest letter (.pdf) to Biden. They bluntly told him his plan is not only misguided and unfair, but also was “threatening the American housing system.”
One name conspicuously missing from the list: South Carolina’s own Henry McMaster. Why was he unwilling to do the right thing and stand up to Biden exceeding his authority? We’re still waiting for your answer, governor.
For those of you who worry there won’t be enough trash talk in the 2024 GOP presidential primary campaign … relax. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is scheduled to officially jump into the race next week.
And the ex-Trump rival turned Trump ally turned Trump rival once again isn’t wasting time. He’s already telling everyone who’ll listen, “You want me on that stage,” debating Trump. His pitch is he’s the only candidate with the guts to stand up to Trump’s bullying.
More on that in a minute …
True, Christie brings a full share of baggage with him. Such as 2013’s “Bridgegate” scandal, though that doesn’t mean a single thing to anyone outside the New York-Washington Axis. Still, you can’t help wondering if the expected Trump and Christie shrillness that is likely to give Republican voters earaches might create an opening for a kinder and gentler campaigner, like South Carolina’s own Tim Scott or former Vice President Mike Pence.
NANCY MACE, WILLIAM TIMMONS, RUSSELL FRY & RALPH NORMAN
It’s hard to imagine a more eclectic mashup of political personalities than these four. Because apart from being Republican members of Congress from South Carolina, this quartet has very little in common. Russell Fry is the new kid on the congressional block; Nancy Mace’s performance in the House has been erratic as best; Ralph Norman is a wily political conniver with one foot planted in DC politics and the other in SC; and William Timmons is burdened with a moving van load of personal scandal.
Yet when it truly mattered, all four rose to the occasion Wednesday night and voted against the debt ceiling increase. They all displayed the courage to vote the will of the people who elected them. In short, they lived up to the “represent” portion of “representative.” South Carolinians say over and over in one election cycle after another that federal spending is out of control, and they want Congress to slam on the brakes. Yet, like alcoholics dropped off at an open bar, Congress just can’t stop. And so the sending spree goes on and on.
Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott voted against the deal in the Senate – albeit for different reasons (Graham reportedly felt it cut too much money). But given the Democrat’s paper-thin majority there, the outcome in that chamber was never seriously in doubt.
The real battleground was the House. And when the crisis came, Reps. Fry, Mace, Norman, and Timmons delivered. Their constituents should be proud of them (for now, anyway).
If you are explaining, you are losing. That’s how the old expression goes, anyway. And congressman Jeff Duncan – a purported fiscal conservative – has been doing a lot of explaining after refusing to join Fry, Mace, Norman, and Timmons in voting against the debt ceiling increase.
Duncan claimed the bill – which utterly fails to curb deficit spending over the coming decade – was worth supporting because it had the imprimatur of former U.S. speaker Newt Gingrich, whom Duncan incorrectly identified as a “conservative.”
Gingrich? Really? The guy who single-handedly sabotaged the “Republican Revolution” back in 1994?
We’re not sure what’s “conservative” about that …
One reason America is in its current fiscal predicament is politicians like Gingrich campaigning as conservatives and governing like pawns of the establishment. Sort of like Duncan did with his debt ceiling vote.
The former president finally called one name too many this week. “He went too far this time,” a committed Trump supporter in South Carolina admitted. To the shock of many MAGA acolytes, he dumped on his own former press secretary.
Kayleigh McEnany was widely regarded as the most effective in the revolving door of press secretaries who cycled through the Trump Administration. Young, energetic, articulate and attractive, she was more than a match for the snarky White House press corps that didn’t bother masking its anti-Trump bias. Plus, she displayed that most treasured coin of the realm in the political world — loyalty — both during and after her time with the 45th president.
That’s why it came as a major jolt when Trump lashed out with his trademark, full-throated viciousness at his former spox on his Truth Social platform. Now a contributor to Fox News, McEnany had reported internal polling which showed Trump with a 25-point lead over Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
Trump shot back with, “Kayleigh ‘Milktoast’ McEnany just gave out the wrong poll numbers… “I’m up 34 points… She knew the number was corrected upward…The RINOs and Globalists can have her. FoxNews should only use REAL STARS!!!”
Note to Trump: It’s actually ‘milquetoast,’ not ‘milktoast.’ But that’s the least of your problems right now …
The putdown proved a bridge too far as many MAGA supporters cringed. This wasn’t an attack on Democrats or presidential rivals; it was a flame-thrower scorcher – and it was scorching one of his most loyal team members.
Now Americans in general and Republicans in particular are asking themselves, “Do I really want four more years of these juvenile antics?” That’s the one question Trump can’t afford to have circulating just now.
There is none so blind as he who will not see, the old saying reminds us. And it seems Big Businesses are failing to perceive the clear and present danger to their bottom line by continuing to crawl into bed with woke culture.
First, there was Bud Light’s transgender beer can debacle. Remember that one? Bud Lite drinkers haven’t forgotten. Industry analysts say the week of May 20, sales by volume were down a staggering nearly 30 percent from the same time last year. It came two months into the Bud Lite boycott. Two months, people! When folks get angry about something, they tend to cool down a week or two later. Instead, the “Say Bye-Bye to Bud Lite” boycott is entering its third month.
Next, Target ran headfirst into a minefield by pushing gay-friendly clothes for kids. Moms and dads were outraged. The issue isn’t gay rights; it’s the sexualization of little children (and thus indirectly weaponizing them in support of the Woke agenda).
The “cheap chic” retail giant lost billions of dollars in its market capitalization in less than two weeks. Its stock was selling at $160.96 a share when a boycott began on May 24; by Friday afternoon it was hovering around $132.50.
Target tried to stanch the financial hemorrhaging on Tuesday by saying it was removing some items from store shelves and tweaking its marketing campaign. But was it too little, too late?
Finally, Chick-fil-A dropped a bombshell on its militantly loyal conservative customer base. The fast-food company’s fans are so devoted they would swim through alligator-infested swamps just to buy a grilled chicken sandwich. That’s because many say they enjoy patronizing a business that shares their conservative values.
So, it came as a shock to many of those loyal customers this week when the company announced it was promoting a vice president to head its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department. For the uninitiated, DEI is code for directly mobilizing the business world in full support of the woke-progressive dream of reshaping America into its Marxist-inspired image.
Customers are rightly outraged. To them, it felt like a betrayal on the level of Benedict Arnold or Judas Iscariot.
Chick-fil-A would do well to avoid the lesson Bud Lite and Target learned the hard way. It never pays to spit into the face of the people whose purchases fund your bottom line.
“Go Woke, go broke” is more than a snappy line. It’s becoming a fundamental fact of financial life in 2023. The Left may not like that, but the numbers speak for themselves.
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