Gov. Nikki Haley issued a directive in September that, according to The State, “…will boost the morale of state workers, remind them they work for the callers on the other end of the line and help her sell the state to employers.”
It’s a great day in South Carolina. How can I help you?
To be fair, it is no secret that I consider Nikki Haley a dear friend and hold the utmost respect for her. That being said, with all due respect to the governor, her political steps — and they’re all political steps when you’re governor — haven’t always been on the mark. But was asking her department directors to have their staff answer phones in such a manner was one of them? I don’ t think so. I think it’s a simple, positive and NON-CONTROVERSIAL first impression that should have been so directed years ago! Hell: I wish I had come up with the idea back in my day as an Independent Maverick Representing Lower Richland County! Of course, in politics, I guess the word non-controversial is a non-sequitur.That’s left the way open for Democrats and a number of Republicans to take a few cheap shots at Haley’s expense.
S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian kicked things off by saying, “She believes that if you say the lie enough, people may begin to believe it. But we know the state is in the toilet.” [Author side note, I MUST be a True Independent at Heart, 'cause HARPO rocks my world, too! ]
The guys at S.C. Forward Progress, of course, put together a video.
NPR’s “Morning Edition” jumped onto the slow-burning story on Thursday, doing a piece on the pre-filed bill that will ban state workers from answering phones with that greeting. Linda Wertheimer said, “They say no sunny hellos as long as unemployment is more than five percent in the state. The governor maintains it could help change the mood.”
Forced merriment isn’t for everyone, but it can pay off. After all, didn’t David Sedaris parlay time spent as a Macy’s Christmas elf named “Crumpet” into a successful career? But I digress…
Haley defended herself by saying, “It’s part of who I am. As hokey as some people may think it is, I’m selling South Carolina as this great, new, positive state that everybody needs to look at.”
Lord knows we have our share of problems in South Carolina, and the governor has made her share of mistakes. But that’s no reason to go into petty attacks regarding a decision that couldn’t do much harm and might actually do some good. Yo Go Nikki! That’s what I say. What do you think?
by J.L. Mann Cromer, Jr., an Attorney licensed to practice in South Carolina, California & The District of Columbia. He received his BA in 1985 from Clemson University and his JD in 1988 from the University of South Carolina School of Law.