Hollings Goes Out With Style

Fritz Hollings announced yesterday that he won’t run for reelection in 2004, which means the Republicans will probably pick up his seat.
What was interesting to me was the rambling, bitter speech Hollings gave in announcing his retirement. Here are some excerpts, as reported on his own website:
“I’m truly worried about the country’s direction….I can tell you this categorically, we’ve got the weakest president and weakest government in the history of my 50 years of public service. I say weak president in that the poor boy campaigns all the time and pays no attention to what’s going on in the Congress. Karl Rove tells him to do this or do that or whatever it is, but he’s out campaigning.
“And at the national level, we’ve got Enron accounting galore. The President…admits to a $700 billion deficit, so you can see why the market goes down. Everyone sees who invests that there’s no reason to invest because the interest rates are going up and you can’t carry your investments. [Huh?]
“Otherwise, riding up here, I saw this state could care less. I just saw Carolina license plates, Tiger paw license plates, they just can’t wait for the kick-offs here at the end of the month. They just don’t worry about the 60,100 textile jobs alone we have lost since NAFTA….And in the country this is endemic. In the country itself, we don’t make anything any more.
“I had to make a talk on trade last week, and I looked it up and found out that at the end of World War II we had 40 percent of our workforce in manufacturing. And now we’re down to 10 percent. We’ve got 10 percent of the country working and producing, and we’ve got the other 90 percent talking and eating. That’s all they’re doing. [The U.S. is, by far, the world’s largest exporter.]
“[My staff] wanted to have a more formal occasion, and have all kinds of crowds around me, to see if a thousand people would be there. But you see there’s a thousand on the other side, y’all are so happy that I’m getting out.”
Here is a man who has been in public life since 1948, and who has served seven terms in the United States Senate. Yet he cannot find a single positive thing to say on the occasion of his own retirement. Instead he spews the same negative, hateful bitterness that we are seeing from Democrats all over the country–directed not only at President Bush, but at the very South Carolina voters who elected him to office. Very strange and, I think, very revealing.

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