Joe Wilson does other politically challenged states a favor.

Notes from the political sidelines.
Sept. 12 2009 11:06 AM

Thank God for South Carolina

Joe Wilson does other politically challenged states a favor.

(Continued from Page 1)

South Carolina and Idaho are a world apart in terms of demographics, economics, and culture. Their greatest similarity is in one-party dominance of national elections. Each state has gone Republican in 11 of the last 12 presidential elections. No state has gone 12 for 12. In a typical year, the Republican margin is larger in Idaho, because the Democratic high-water mark is about 10 points higher in South Carolina. But in the liberal donnybrook of 1972, Nixon's margin of victory in South Carolina was five points wider.

Both states also know how it feels to be looked down upon. Earlier this year, South Carolina's attorney general tried to force Craigslist to drop its adult listings. TechCrunch summed up the reaction from the company and the blogosphere: "If it really came down to choosing between South Carolina and Craigslist, how many people would rather have South Carolina?"

So other states shouldn't feel too much schadenfreude at South Carolinians' expense. As the president put it, we all make mistakes—and this summer of town halls showed that no state has a monopoly on bad manners. Those of us who have known scorn understand what the good people of South Carolina are going through—and can be sure our turn will come again.

Yet as historians seem delighted to point out, South Carolina has spent two centuries building a reputation of outspoken rebellion, from the nullification crisis of 1832 to antebellum caning in 1856 to secession in 1860. By the time Idaho joined the Union, South Carolina had already tried twice to leave it. For the people of Idaho, at least, Joe Wilson's lapse was a reminder that despite all the bad press we've earned in recent years, our outliers are mere nouveau fringe. South Carolina had such a head start, the rest of us are still playing catch-up.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.