Politics

Palmetto Political Stock Index – 5/21/2024

Where should you invest your political capital?

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Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has been remarkably quiet since getting her ass handed to her in the 2024 “Republican” presidential primary by Donald Trump.

One of the many reasons for Haley’s defeat? And her exclusion from Trump’s vice presidential list? Her self-serving, opportunistic warmongering … which will be on full display this week when she “breaks her silence” with a keynote foreign policy address sponsored by her new employer, the “neoconservative” Hudson Institute.

How will Haley fare during her address? You’ll have to tune into next week’s index to find out …

Speaking of next week, we are just days away from the onset of early voting in the state’s partisan primary elections – scheduled for June 11, 2024. We’ll have plenty to say about that in future editions. But for now, a buffet of news is moving stocks up and down on the political big board this week. Who’s rising? Falling? Holding?

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Over the past year, founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell have been monitoring 2024 presidential developments via our Palmetto Political Stock Index. As we often point out, each installment is an assessment of how our subjects fared over the previous seven days. Positive reports don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones aren’t (necessarily) indicative of vendettas. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em.

To view the most recent index, click here. And to get your historical fix, click here. 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.

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

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HENRY MCMASTER

STOCK: FALLING

It’s a governor’s job in any state – even one like South Carolina where the governor is constitutionally neutered – to mind the store. But Henry McMaster is asleep at the wheel.

State representative Adam Morgan – chairman of the S.C. Freedom Caucus and fourth congressional district candidate – recently questioned whether state agencies were trying to register non-citizens to vote. McMaster asked the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to look into it. SLED obliged, and found no evidence of any non-citizens having registered.

Had it ended there, that might have been that. But McMaster’s office released a self-congratulatory statement intended to curry favor with legislative leadership. The gubernatorial pablum glossed over a very important point, though.

Though no non-citizens were found to have actually registered to vote — at least not yet — these forms have consistently found their way into the wrong hands. And because registration forms are still being disseminated to non-citizens, it’s a matter of when – not if – those unqualified eventually slip through the cracks and show up the the polls alongside actual citizens on Election Day.

Maybe McMaster should pay more attention to his duties and less attention to doing victory laps for luring elective vehicle manufacturer Scout Motors to Blythewood. But speaking of the Green Energy daydream …

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EV SALES

STOCK: FALLING

It’s a case of Mark Twain’s famous line in reverse: Reports of the emergence of a dazzlingly bright future of EV sales are greatly exaggerated.

So exaggerated, in fact, that Volkswagen (Scout Motors’ parent company) is the latest automaker to slam the brakes on its EV push. It’s now stepping back from its plans to go all-electric. That’s part of a growing shift in the auto industry away from EV-only to a new emphasis on more affordable hybrids.

Car producers listened as progressives whispered siren songs in their ears about a brave new world of all-electric vehicles. What they didn’t listen to was their customers, who are appalled by $55,000 (and up) sticker prices and terrified by the thought of equally outrageous auto insurance and battery replacements.

In short, carmakers got way ahead of the people who actually buy their products. (Does the name New Coke ring a bell?) Now they’re stuck with lots full of unsold EVs.

Who’da thunk it?

Certainly not the South Carolina “Republicans” who have plowed $1.3 billion of your money into a hasty bet on this market.

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ALAN WILSON

STOCK: HOLDING

Was it a rare stumble for a politician who usually has a good sense of balance? Many Upstate conservatives see that in S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson’s endorsement of beleaguered fourth district U.S. congressman William Timmons. Jaws on the party’s right flank dropped last week when the state’s top prosecutor gave the scandal-mired congressman his seal of approval.

“I’m very disappointed,” one conservative activist told us.

Wilson’s endorsement of Timmons followed on the heels of him lending his imprimatur earlier this year to über-liberal judicial candidate James Smith – former Democratic gubernatorial nominee and S.C. minority leader. That blew up in the attorney general’s face, however, when Smith’s candidacy was shot down by lawmakers.

Those moves were all the more perplexing given Wilson’s current status as the presumptive Republican front-runner heading into 2026. Whether it’s running for governor, seeking a fifth term as attorney general or possibly going for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Tim Scott (assuming a Trump victory propelled him in the administration in some capacity), the popular AG would enter any of those races as the man to beat.

“I just don’t get it,” one GOP operative told us. “Why stick your neck out for only marginal political gain?”

Memo to Wilson: It’s not too late to stop payment on the monthly retainer check you’re cutting your political consultants. Get your money back – because they’re giving you bad advice.

And speaking of our state’s junior senator …

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TIM SCOTT

STOCK: RISING

Washington was wondering last week: Would he or wouldn’t he? Well, he did. And he scored a solid run for it, too.

During his tenure as head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Chairman Martin Gruenberg has allowed the agency to turn into “Animal House.” Some really cringeworthy stuff has happened at the FDIC including bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination – even alleged rapes. Just how bad is the toxic environment at the agency? A 234-page report found an FDIC examiner texting a female employee a picture of his sex organ, visits to brothels during work trips, and a female investigator being described by another employee as a “grizzly bear with t*ts.” 

Wow. And president Joe Biden and Senate Democrats (including MeToo# cheerleader Elizabeth Warren) really believe Gruenberg deserves another stint as FDIC honcho?

While many other senators focused on the prurient aspects of Gruenberg’s chairmanship at last week’s Senate hearing, Scott focused on why Gruenberg is problematic from a policy perspective.

At stake here is the Basel III Endgame. It’s yet another Biden financial brainchild that would hurt everyday Americans applying for mortgages, car loans, credit and small-business loans – forcing banks to become unrealistically risk-averse.

Keeping Gruenberg at the FDIC is key to enacting this new regulation – which is why Warren and her fellow Dems are turning a blind eye to the FDIC’s rowdy frat house atmosphere.

Scott is not turning a blind eye. In fact, he went straight for the chairman’s jugular.

“Marty, you heard me say this directly — you should resign,” he said.

It doesn’t get any clearer than that …

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CONGRESSIONAL DECORUM

STOCK: FALLING

Ugly. Petty. Undignified. You’ll have to dig even deeper into your thesaurus app to come up with the right words to accurately capture last week’s unseemly snit fit on Capitol Hill. And before we say more, let us confirm what you will soon suspect: Witnesses report alcohol was involved.

Thursday night’s U.S. House oversight committee meeting could have given the most outrageous episode of The Jerry Springer Show a run for its money.

The topic was supposed to be a motion to advance contempt charges against U.S. attorney general Merrick Garland. The measure ultimately passed — after an hour’s distraction in something straight out of a carnival freak show, with some of the Hill’s biggest mouths on both sides of the aisle weighing in.

The smackdown started early on when congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) made it partisan by asking, “I’d like to know if any Democrats on the committee are employing Judge [Juan] Merchan’s daughter?”

Merchan is the judge hearing Donald Trump’s current trial in New York City.

“Please tell me what that has to do with Merrick Garland?” shot back congresswoman Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas).

“I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you’re reading,” Greene retorted.

(Click to View)

(Alive 11)

Crockett then, pretending to make a parliamentary inquiry, asking the chairman if referring to another member as having “a bleach-blonde, bad-built, butch body, that would not be engaging in personalities, correct?”

Things went off the rails at that point …

Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) waded in, calling Crockett “out of control” and telling her to “calm down.”

Crockett: “Don’t tell me to calm down. If I come and talk shit about her, y’all gonna have a problem.”

Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) jumped in, saying Greene’s remarks were “absolutely unacceptable — how dare you attack the physical appearance of another person?”

Greene: “Are your feelings hurt? Awww. Why don’t you debate me?”

Ocasio-Cortez: “I think it’s pretty self-evident.”

Greene: “Yeah, you don’t have enough intelligence.”

Ocasio-Cortez: “Oh girl, oh baby girl, don’t even play.” 

Greene: “Oh really, baby girl?”

Jamie Raskin (D-Md.): “That’s beneath even you, Ms. Greene.”

There was more … but you get the drift. Such is political discourse in 2024.

Both Republicans and Democrats later told reporters some members had been drinking that evening. No names were mentioned. But then again, they didn’t need to be.

Fake eyelashes, baby girls and bleached blonde, bad-built, butch bodies. That’s your tax dollars at work, people.

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TRUMP TRIAL

STOCK: FALLING

For political junkies wanting to catch a glimpse of Republican luminaries in the flesh, forget Washington, D.C. The fifteenth floor of the New York Courthouse in lower Manhattan is the place to see the GOP stars come out to shine these days.

A growing list of the Grand Old Party’s “Who’s Who” is trekking there in a show of support for their presidential nominee in waiting. The obligatory trip to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring is no longer enough. One must now be seen publicly standing by the standard bearer in his hour of need.

It all started on May 9, when U.S. senator Rick Scott turned up in the Manhattan courtroom. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say, and when various GOP figures saw how well that played with the MAGA base, it turned into a cattle call. Seriously, it’s become the hip thing to do this spring for Republicans, especially those who harbor dreams of becoming Trump’s running mate. As of late last week, the VIP list included House speaker Mike Johnson, at least 13 congressmen (including South Carolina’s own Ralph Norman) three sitting U.S. senators, North Dakota Gov. (and ex-presidential candidate) Doug Burgum, his fellow GOP presidential primary alum Vivek Ramaswamy, and a host of other B-Listers such as Rudy Giuliani, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Fox News host Jeanine Pirro.

What did you expect, though? Democrats wanted a show trial. So, Republicans are giving them a show.

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HARRISON BUTKER

STOCK: RISING

Why is it a Hollywood darling can give a college commencement address advocating the most outlandish woke/ progressive agenda, and there’s nary a dissenting word? But let a speaker espouse traditional views, and the wrath of God descends upon their head.

Consider Harrison Butker, placekicker for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Long a favorite of Fantasy Football aficionados, Butker is now engaged in a scrimmage way nastier than anything he ever experienced on the gridiron.

There’s a huge uproar over the talk the devoutly Catholic player recently gave to grads at little Benedictine College in Kansas. The tolerant Left (and the more virulent strain of Feminists in particular) roasted Butker on social media, filling it with memes accusing him of wanting to turn America into “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

But there’s a flipside to this narrative. The NFL can’t keep up with the demand for his officially licensed team jersey. And guess who’s driving that demand for No. 7? Female customers.

He who laughs last, laughs loudest. And Butker is laughing all the way to the bank …

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WANNA SOUND OFF?

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