Archive for March 8th, 2011

Fritz Hollings: The Price of Vice in South Carolina, Part I

Poor Fritz Hollings, perpetual junior senator from South Carolina! While Strom Thurmond spent almost half a century as senator from 1954, Hollings was elected to the Senate after Senator Johnston, Strom’s senior senator, died a decade or so later.

Hollings had been one of South Carolina’s youngest governors. He tried to unseat Johnston in the 1962 primary, but he didn’t have chance those days against a seated senator. He had to wait for Johnston to die, the traditional way a seat opened in the South.

So Senator Hollings was finally elected to the Senate in 1967, and was Strom’s junior senator from his relative youth to his very old age when he finally resigned in 2005. Poor old Hollings! Not only was he always the “junior senator,” but his home office in Columbia was for a long time in the Strom Thurmond Federal Building!

Strom left office in 2003. So Hollings had only two years as senior senator. All of Hollings’ life, with almost no exceptions, Southern senators went straight from their congressional seats to their graves.

But Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, a relatively youthful — compared to Strom — 77 years of age, had to resign in 2005 because he stood no chance of reelection.

He was never even considered for the second place on the national ticket. But in going for it he became, as the media said happily, “a surprisingly liberal senator for the Deep South.”

So “surprisingly liberal” that by 2004, all his years of favors and seniority didn’t give him a chance of reelection.

Hollings had been extremely popular as one of the youngest governors in our history. You have to know the old Deep South politics to realize how hard it is for a popular senator to get his constituency down there so disgusted that he didn’t even try for reelection.

What happened was that Fritz had tried to sell out in a buyer’s market. He became a more and more militant turncoat, hoping for the vice presidential slot on the national ticket.

But what he and so many other “shrew” Southern politicos didn’t realize was that Southern turncoats are a nickel a thousand.

Hollings was so furious at being given nothing in the years he was sacrificing his seat in 2004 that he did the most offensive thing he could imagine to those who didn‘t buy him. His last year, he denounced the puppet like support of Israel in congress!

He did that about the time, spring of 2004, when he saw that the polls demonstrated his cause was hopeless.

In Part II, we will watch another popular SC governor destroy himself by trying to sell out in the buyers’ market for Southern traitors on the Republicans side.