Palmetto Political Stock Index: 7/16/2023

Contenders versus pretenders …

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Some weeks, our political day-trading column focuses on fallout … the reverberations, repercussions and recriminations which follow from tectonic-altering occurrences across the ‘First in the South” electoral landscape (and beyond). Other weeks, we read tea leaves in anticipation of such shifts … and, of course, spill the (political) tea.

This week feels a lot like the latter … which should bode for some interesting editions of our Palmetto Political Stock Index in the weeks to come.

For now, though, the 2024 presidential race is clearly settling into a period of “separation” – a time in which GOP “contenders” are distinguishing themselves from “pretenders” ahead of the first televised debate next month in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

So who is contending? And who is pretending? Well, that’s what we’re here to tell you …



In an effort to keep our fingers on the pulse of Palmetto politics, founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell produce this index each week – tracking all manner of rising and falling fortunes as well as the interplay of state and national politics in our early-voting home. Got a hot “stock tip” for our consideration? Email Will (here) and/ or Mark (here). Just make sure to include “Palmetto Political Stock Index” in the subject line.

Remember, though, our weekly installment is simply an assessment of how listed individuals (or institutions) fared over the past week. Positive reports certainly don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones aren’t indicative of a vendetta. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em. To borrow Walter Cronkite’s famous line, “That’s the way it is …”

Oh, and just because your favorite (or least favorite) politician didn’t wind up on this week’s list doesn’t mean we aren’t still tracking them. Look for them to appear in future indices … and of course check prior installments to see how we’ve covered them in the past.

To view last week’s edition, click here. And to get your historical fix, click here.

On tap this week?

A crime without a criminal …

A Republican-on-Republican smackdown taking shape …

A rising Palmetto political group getting the last laugh …

Where you should invest your political capital this week? To the index!




The White House is one of the most closely watched, most secure places in the world. But don’t take our word for it. The next time you’re in D.C., breeze through the north gate and see what happens. Best case scenario: Security personnel will tackle you to the ground and rush you to St. Elizabeths, where a shrink will show you pictures of inkblots and ask you lots of questions about your mother.

The names of everyone who sets foot inside this historic home are diligently logged, their every move captured by multiple cameras. And that’s just the security we know about; there’s no telling what other hush-hush measures are in place at 1600 Pennsylvania. So it boggles the imagination to believe the U.S. Secret Service cannot identify who recently left .007 of an ounce of cocaine on the premises.

In one of Washington’s greatest shoulder shrugs of all time, the agency compiled a list of some 500 staffers, visitors and tourists who were on the premises when the drug turned up. But now it says it doesn’t have the time, resources or staff to interview them all. You or I would have as much success with guessing, “It was Professor Plum, in the library, with the candlestick.” Or maybe “Green, Revolver. Lounge.”

Seriously, the Keystone Kops could crack this caper.

So, what gives? We don’t know. And therein lies the rub. The most charitable assessment is the agency tasked with safeguarding the president can’t solve an astonishingly simple crime of someone bringing a controlled substance onto federal property. Scenarios grow more disturbing from there. 

Was the inquiry merely a coverup to protect a presidential pal or big campaign donor? Is the administration signaling a softness on drug laws? Was the coke planted as a distraction to divert attention from Biden’s dismal approval ratings?

Cocaine pops up at the White House without consequences … a Chinese spy balloon is allowed to float at leisure over classified installations for days without repercussions … and when the White House says, “trust us,” we’re supposed to accept it face value?

Toss in the president’s painfully obvious ongoing mental decline, and more and more Democrats are getting heartburn at the prospect of slapping a “Biden-Harris ‘24” sticker on their car (an EV, of course) next year.




The political world was buzzing last week with reports that Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign was preparing to attack fellow Republican Sen. Tim Scott

It all started with a (supposedly) leaked DeSantis campaign internal memo. In a political gimmick as old as the hills, a team that’s lagging in the polls secretly arranges for a news outlet to get a copy of an allegedly inner-circle-only communique to key supporters and big donors acknowledging that although the campaign is in a tight spot just now, don’t worry — there’s a path to put us out front.

In last week’s incarnation, NBC News got hold of one such DeSantis memo. It stated the campaign’s internal polling showed little to no voter interest in rivals Doug Burgum, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley (more on her in a minute), entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy or former vice president Mike Pence. Which is likely accurate. But then the memo took a more ominous turn …

“While Tim Scott has earned a serious look at this stage, his bio is lacking the serious fight that our electorate is looking for in the next president,” it noted. “We expect Tim Scott to receive appropriate scrutiny in the weeks ahead.”

“Appropriate scrutiny?”

That’s political code talk for, “We’re coming after you, Tim.”

What’s behind DeSantis’ sudden fascination with our state’s junior senator? Politico reported Thursday that several of the DeSantis’ campaign’s Big Money people are growing vocally nervous about the governor’s shaky prospects. They’re looking for a fallback candidate to rally around, and Scott’s name has come up with increasing frequency in those circles.

Trying to snuff out an emerging rival before they gain traction may be an expedient tactic, but it could also cause long-term strategic damage to the DeSantis brand – especially when the target is someone as genuinely well-liked as Scott. Also, who benefits the most from a DeSantis-Scott riff? Read on …




Napoleon is said to have observed, “never interfere with your enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself.” Or per another iteration, “never interrupt your enemy when they are making a mistake.” Historians now doubt whether this wisdom actually originated with Bonaparte, but authorship aside – it is wisdom, nonetheless. And applicable wisdom to the current state of the presidential race.

If former president Donald Trump’s only credible (albeit distantly trailing) rival suddenly starts swinging his big guns toward Scott – or any candidate in the single-digit-club – that leaves the road wide open for him.

We’re nearing the midpoint of summer, and no one has made even the slightest dent in Trump’s frontrunner status. Seriously, no would-be competitor has come within twenty percentage points of him in the polls. Now we are looking at a looming undercard battle between a pair of candidates whose combined support is less than half of his own?

The sounds of such sniping are no doubt music to Trump’s ears …




In case you hadn’t gathered from the previous entries, Scott is the man on the move in the 2024 GOP presidential primary … epitomizing the old “over the target, catch flak” mantra.

Americans love an underdog, and if (when?) the DeSantis campaign winds up attacking Scott, it could neatly and easily fold into his storyline of overcoming unlikely odds. You know – the whole Horatio Alger pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps routine Scott delivers so well (because he has lived it).

Indeed, if such attacks against him are deftly deflected Scott could actually emerge from the skirmish having gained ground – which would be on-brand for the junior senator from South Carolina (and potentially devastating for DeSantis).

“In a climate of pervasive pessimism, animosity and blame-gaming/ shifting … is there not a lane for a candidate extolling the potential future greatness of America?” this outlet wrote recently, referring to Scott.

We may find out soon …




“I don’t love my husband 100 percent of the time.” (Pause.) No, we won’t say it; it’s just too easy. Besides, if you attended a cocktail party last week, you probably heard all the jokes making the rounds about the latest contender for “Biggest Gaffe of the 2024 Campaign.”

Believe it or not, Haley’s misspeak (Freudian slip?) wasn’t the worst part of the week for the former Palmetto State governor.

The real news is the leaked DeSantis’ campaign memo shows the 2024 GOP candidates are now lumped into two distinct groups. To put it in Biblical terms, the sheep are being separated from the goats. And it’s crystal clear that Tim Scott is with the sheep, and Haley is stuck with the goats. He is the South Carolina candidate who made it to the second tier, while she remains trapped amid the also-rans.

Could that change? Of course … and Haley is far too ambitious (and too well-funded) to ever be written off completely. But her current positioning is not good – and shows little sign of improvement.

Despite posturing as a would-be Iron Lady, Haley has made herself a political persona non grata to wide swaths of the GOP base. Her ill-considered attack on Trump in the immediate aftermath of the January 6, 2021 rioting at the U.S. Capitol – followed by her rapid backpedaling – created the perception of her as a perpetual political weather vane.

Since then there have been waves of Trump pandering from Haley – only to see her break with her ex-boss once again by running against him (after she promised she wouldn’t). All of this has made Haley a suspicious character in eyes of GOP establishment voters. Meanwhile MAGA, which doesn’t forgive any Trump slight from anyone, has forever branded her a traitor.

That leaves Haley roaming the back alleys of the GOP primary electorate, a political version of “The (Wo)Man Without a Country,” desperately searching for a way to become relevant.

Who knows … maybe another affair rumor will do the trick?




This news outlet has given South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson no shortage of grief over the years. And earlier this year, our founding editor Will Folks was clearly less-than-thrilled with his initial offering on the issue of justice reform.

But Wilson – the Palmetto State’s top prosecutor since 2011 – was apparently just getting started on this issue.

Last week, Wilson rolled out a much more muscular policy for fixing the corrupt way in which judges are currently selected in South Carolina – and appeared to have some significant legislative interest in his proposal. One of only two states in America in which lawmakers elect judges with no executive branch input, the Palmetto State exacerbates this problem by allowing a handful of lawyer-legislators to handpick which candidates get to appear before lawmakers in the first place – basically rigging these races before they are even held.

The result of this system? As we have often noted, it has enabled widespread institutional corruption, shredded the rights of victims, empowered violent criminals and materially eroded public safety. It has also turned the judiciary into little more than a political annex of the legislature.

There’s been no shortage of proposed solutions to this problem (including one from us), but Wilson appears intent on getting something done about it. That includes not only a credible policy solution – but building a broad-based legislative coalition in the hopes of getting meaningful reform through a recalcitrant legislature which has thus far been unwilling to cede its power. Should he succeed in this Herculean task, Wilson’s stock would soar and his status as the GOP’s 2026 gubernatorial frontrunner would be cemented.




What a difference a fortnight makes. Just two weeks ago, the editorial team at The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier had whipped themselves into a tizzy.  A lugubrious lather, if you will.

Its target? The new South Carolina Freedom Caucus, which recently learned Lexington County school district one was using material involving hateful and racially divisive Critical Race Theory (CRT) – in violation of a state budget proviso banning it from public school classrooms. The caucus sued – and the two sides reached a settlement last month.

This settlement seems to have given the P&C editorial staff apoplexy. The paper’s June 30 diatribe lashed out – not at the teachers and administrators who clearly flaunted the law, mind you – but at the members of the Freedom Caucus, who had the temerity to defend it. Editorial writers hurled pejoratives like javelins, calling the filing “a harassment suit,” while attacking Freedom Caucus members as a “small group of radical malcontents,” and other juvenile tripe better suited for an eight-grade study hall note than the pages of the state’s biggest newspaper.

This might have been the last word on the matter … had it not been for a case of slippery bureaucratic fingers. As first reported on this media outlet, a Lexington One school staffer left a voice message (on the wrong phone number, no less) that let the cat out of the bag. According to the message, a district review found nothing within the district that violated the proviso’s ban … “except for some teacher materials that the school had used.” Teacher materials … you know, the stuff that kids see and hear.

This “except for” makes all the difference. It’s like an investigator saying, “We examined the murder weapon. The gun was intact, except for the fatal bullets.” 

To read the sad story of educrats who insist on doing whatever they want despite the law and the will of the people, click here.

He laughs loudest, who laughs last, we are told. Well, the laugh’s on you, P&C, for venting your spleen in defense of people who broke the law.




We don’t like to whip a dead horse. Really, we don’t. But in this case, the horse simply refuses to die. And honestly, at this point, it would be more merciful if parent company Anheuser-Busch would put the old gray mare out of its misery.

We are now four months into the ongoing consumer backlash over the Bud Light transgender beer can debacle, and the boycott shows no sign of losing steam. In fact, an ominous omen popped up last week suggesting even worse times are ahead for America’s former #1 beer brand.

Shoppers at warehouse giant Costco’s 587 U.S. stores noticed something new: An asterisk appearing on price tags for the beleaguered brew. Costco customers know all too well what that means. They call it the “star of death.” It silently signals that the product will likely be disappearing from store shelves soon – which could take a big bite out of Bud Light’s shriveling bottom line.

There’s something even sadder than watching a once-beloved product’s slow-motion demise – and that is the needlessness of it. The situation could probably change in the blink of an eye if Anheuser-Busch simply applied the Power of Apology. A political science college instructor recently wrote something that caught our attention. Though she was speaking of political candidates and government officials, her words hold true for the business world as well.

“Just be honest with the American people if something goes wrong, You’d be surprised at how far it can go if you give a sincere apology, if you just say, ‘We really screwed this up, and these are the mistakes we made, and this is the path we’re going to try to take now to avoid these mistakes happening again.'”

It’s called the Power of Apology. You should look into it, Anheuser-Busch – while you still have a product left to sell. Until then, “falling” will continue to be a generous rating. “Trading on certain South American exchanges” could soon prove more accurate.



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Observer July 16, 2023 at 1:28 pm

I love when FitsNews reposts these articles from The Onion. Hilarious!!!

Nanker Phelge July 16, 2023 at 10:24 pm

Every Republican candidate’s campaign is DOA. Even if Trump were to eat one cheeseburger too many and unfortunately pass away they would insist on keeping his name on the ballot and most of them would not believe he was actually gone.

The DullSantis money people would be more likely to push for a Youngkin candidacy. He’s DullSantis without acting like an alien trying to pass as an earthling.

Sure Alan Wilson wants more executive power in selecting judges since he fashions himself as the next executive.

Freedom Caucus can eat my balls.

Btw, Kid Rock’s bar still sells Bud Light…

RC July 17, 2023 at 11:34 am

What is a “transgender beer can”? Also I’d love to know exactly what AB is supposed to apologize for.


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