Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gov. Sanford endorses Sen. Obama?

Wow. A Huge Hat tip to NVB for pointing this out in the State today. Really interesting considering the huge fight for SC that is getting ready to take place after New Hampshire divided its delegates.

I won’t be voting for Barack Obama for president. There are too many vital issues — from taxes and spending, to immigration and national security, to traditional values — on which we have fundamentally different points of view about the right direction for our country. However, as the presidential campaign trail now makes its turn toward this state, and as South Carolinians make their final decisions on whom to vote for, it’s worth pausing to take notice of something important that the Obama candidacy means for our corner of America.

South Carolinians are rightly proud of our state’s rich heritage and history, dating from the earliest Colonial times and our ancestors’ heroic efforts in the Revolutionary War right up to the present day. I say this because we’re a state that loves history, and one of the nicest parts of my job lies in constantly being exposed to the extraordinary achievements of South Carolinians past and present. In the Obama candidacy, there is a potentially history-making quality that we should reflect on. It is one that is especially relevant on the sensitive topic of race — because South Carolina and the South as a whole bear a heavier historical burden than the rest of our country on that front.

As governor, I try to keep that historical burden in mind, because being sensitive to race has both policy and symbolic implications. I strongly believe that policies such as school choice and reforms to allow Medicaid recipients additional health care options will have a disproportionately positive impact on African-Americans in our state. Others disagree, favoring a larger role for government than the private sector, and those legitimate policy disagreements will always be with us in the political arena.

On the symbolic front: Having a more diversified Cabinet, issuing the first formal apology for the Orangeburg Massacre and traveling across the state line to Georgia to address the South Carolina NAACP convention have all represented small steps aimed at building bridges across waters that have divided us for too long as South Carolinians. In short, just like hundreds before me and scores of others trying in their own ways, I try to build bridges where I can — but I write because it all pales in comparison to the change that may be before us.

Sen. Obama is not running for president on the basis of his race, and no one should cast their ballot for or against him on that basis. Nonetheless, what is happening in the initial success of his candidacy should not escape us. Within many of our own lifetimes, a man who looked like Barack Obama had a difficult time even using the public restrooms in our state. What is happening may well say a lot about America, and I do think as an early primary state we should earnestly shoulder our responsibility in determining how this part of history is ultimately written.

Gov. Sanford’s Web site is scgovernor.com; he has not endorsed any presidential candidate.

I've emphasized what I think is the 'point' of the Governor's piece. But admittedly I just don't know how to react to the Governor's Op Ed piece. Is this some kind of manuevering?* Or is the Governor truly just taking a step back from the frey and acknowledging a simple truth that speaks more to the greatness of our country and our uncanny ability as a people to work towards healing and reconciliation and progress?†

I've given more detail to this matter post the Governor's State of the State Address. See here.

*One could glean from this piece that it's a below the radar endorsement of Obama or with a little creativity and isogesis that in a way by seeming to endorse Obama he's endorsing, without name, who many consider to be the Republican 'Equivalent' to Obama - moderate John McCain.

†Another point that is probably secondary that I want to address... "disagreements will always be with us in the political arena." At times I disagree - vehemently - with the Governor to the point of out right disdaining him. But I do agree that, for all the muck and the mire of politics, at the end of the day we all have a shared vision of what this State and Country was, is, can and should be though we may disagree on the finer points.

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