South Carolina Lt. Gov Andre Bauer, photo from The Palmetto Scoop.
As you probably have heard, there is now a national firestorm over our esteemed Lt Gov Andre Bauer's "ill-chosen" remarks:
He made the Washington Post, Jon Stewart and the Rachel Maddow Show! Bauer is famous at long last. ((sigh))
“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better,” Bauer said.
And locally, his reviews haven't been much better:
The local NAACP and Democratic Party have weighed in, also:
Bruce Ransom, a political science professor at Clemson University's Strom Thurmond Institute, called those words “shocking.”
“It’s obviously an attack on poor people,” he said.
Rep. J. Todd Rutherford, a Richland County Democrat who said he is a friend of Bauer, said the remarks would be disappointing coming from anyone.
“It appears crystal clear that Jesus has left the Republican Party,” he said. “The only comparison between animals and people that should ever be done is to say that they are all God’s children.”
Rep. Harry Cato, a Greenville Republican, said it sounds like Bauer “has gone overboard.”
“We do have a responsibility as adults, as Christians, to take care of the children,” Cato said. “They’re here, and it’s not their fault that they were not born into loving parents or a life that does not provide for them. Sometimes parents are just down on their luck.”
He added, “Maybe it sounds like the point we’ve all been talking about forever and that is how do you help people that are down on their luck? How do you break the cycle of those who are in a cycle? There‘s a lot of various cycles people get in, and they do seem to go from generation to generation.”
Ransom said he also thought that was the issue Bauer was trying to get at, using an old argument that has been made against welfare recipients on people receiving free or reduced-price lunches. Bauer was saying that poor people are costing the government more and more money, Ransom said.
“The argument is one that shows no sensitivity and no compassion, particularly in that the argument is one that makes the analogy to stray animals,” he said.
Ransom said it’s hard to tell how Bauer’s remarks will affect his run for governor. They will appeal to people who believe that “all these unworthy people out here who are not responsible for their behavior and are not raising their children properly” are a burden on the rest of society, he said.
And here is the official non-apology from Bauer's campaign:
South Carolina's Democratic Party chairwoman, Carol Fowler, asked Bauer to apologize for making the remarks.
Fowler released a statement, saying, "Andre Bauer's crude utterances once again reveal his immaturity and poor judgment. Bauer is a bachelor who has never once had to worry about feeding a child of his own. His notion of punishing children by not feeding them because their parents missed a PTA meeting flies in the face of basic South Carolina values."
In response, Bauer said he shouldn't have used the "stray animals" reference. However, he said he knows his comments are politically incorrect, and he does not feel that he needs to apologize. He said his critics have not offered any solutions to what he called a cycle of dependency on government programs.
In a release, Bauer said he feels "strongly that we can and should help our neighbors who are truly needy ... There's a big difference between being truly needy and truly lazy."
The Greenville NAACP isn’t calling for Bauer's resignation, or even for an apology. The group’s leaders say it's too late for that. But what they would like is for Bauer not to run for governor, and if he does, they want him to lose.
Greenville NAACP leaders said Bauer has proved he doesn't deserve to be South Carolina's next governor. They are upset because they said some of the people Bauer aspires to serve are lower income.
In a news release, Clarence Echols, Greenville NAACP president, said to Bauer: "Keep your foot in your mouth. If you do that, we won't be subjected to such stupidity."
Bauer said he regrets using the metaphor, but he stands firm on his main point. He said some people who don't need welfare take advantage of it, and it becomes a cycle passed down through generations.
Echols said, "To see another politician who wants to be a leader in this state step into that same quagmire of speaking before thinking, it disturbs me greatly."
Monday morning, Bauer spoke to WYFF News 4 and said, "If they wholeheartedly feel that there ought to be a discussion, then that's great -- if they think I'm wrong by bringing up a topic that I feel is important. The fact is that we're going to have to cut somewhere in state government. We're having to cut essential services to people that can't actually provide for themselves because we're taking care of people that are just lazy. I think it's a topic worth discussing. If I'm wrong, so be it."