The Pulse

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: S.C. stands for Southern Charm(ing) the candidates

By: - December 24, 2022 6:00 am

While the rest of y’all have been perfecting your eggnog, buying and wrapping gifts for loved ones, and making peace with the fact all your clothes will smell like ham soon, I’ve been enjoying the prickly whining coming out of Iowa. What’s got the Hawkeyes in a swivet? Well, after 50 years of being the very first state every presidential candidate needed to go steady with, it’s all over. Turns out the caucus was too Caucasian.

Instead of being treated to such sideshow sights as the patrician John Kerry pretending to eat meat on a stick with a tavern full of locals, we’ll get to see…OK, pretty much the same thing only in South Carolina.

The Democratic National Committee recently voted to move the first primary to South Carolina, making the famed Iowa caucus  irrelevant to the party’s nominating process.

As a native of North Carolina, (“a vale of humility ‘tween two mountains of conceit” it has been said, accurately), I’m especially interested to see how this goes.

To be clear, I have nothing against Iowa. It’s hands down one of my favorite rectangular states and I admire its mysterious ability to bring dead baseball players back to life in a cornfield but, South Cackalacky! Who wouldn’t want to kick off a presidential campaign there? Have you SEEN “Southern Charm”? Come for the moss-draped mansions; stay for Shep’s craptastic failure to remain faithful to…anyone. What’s not to love?

A bit of history for those less passionate about this sort of thing: For 50 years, Iowa has been first. Candidates with a bad showing there have watched helplessly as their campaign was strangled in its crib, long before it could learn to crawl and lie at the same time. But Iowa isn’t exactly the face of America. It’s 84 percent white and arguably it’s harder for non-white candidates to succeed there. A more racially diverse state should be the bellwether, it was decided.

It’s mildly curious that state was South Carolina because it always votes Republican. But no one can ever claim the Dems aren’t particularly gifted at pointing a shotgun at their own big toes.

To no one’s surprise, Iowa Republicans, in particular, are unhappy about losing all that attention (and ad revenue). The state party chair poutily described the move as a big ol’ “middle finger to Iowa.”

That’s a hissy fit worthy of South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham!

While many believe this is a previously agreed upon “thank you”  from President Biden to the state that singlehandedly resuscitated his 2020 campaign with a crucial primary win, I would say simply: “Yep, that sounds about right.”

No matter. Let’s let my sister state enjoy being courted by every presidential hopeful. This is like being named Homecoming Queen, head cheerleader and valedictorian on the same day!

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a little bit of jealousy. Why not North Carolina? We have twice as many people, 64 percent more square miles plus we’re racially diverse and, politically, we’re trending purple. Also, our barbecue is better. (Not talking to you Rodney Scott; you RULE.)

The people of Iowa are used to receiving a ton of mostly undeserved attention every four years. They love to complain about all the candidates (Hickenlooper? Seriously?) clogging up their coffee shops but I suspect they are flattered when the shower steam clears and, what’s this? Bernie’s already putting the toothpaste on your brush and offering you a towel.

Now South Carolina will find out what it’s like to start the day with New Yorkers Bill DeBlasio and Michael Bloomberg offering them a bagel with a “schmear” and other breakfast abominations. It will be some fun watching these guys eat grits while giving a goofy thumbs-up to the camera. Let the games begin, y’all!

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

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