Skip to comments.Hollings stood up for beliefs, S.C.
Posted on 12/19/2004 8:22:04 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
Fritz Hollings drew up a seemingly impossible to-do list for his state and, as governor, ticked off his chores one by one.
In 38 years as a U.S. senator, he set goals at least as daunting and achieved them.
Weeks away from retirement after more than half a century of public service, Hollings has a legacy to South Carolina, the nation and without exaggeration the planet that stands as tall as the long-legged senator himself.
In the words of his friend, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii: Where do you start?
Many begin with the father of ... .
Hollings is the father of South Carolinas technical college system. Gov. Hollings used that system to recruit companies from around the nation, and he made good on his promise of a skilled South Carolina work force.
For this, he is credited with no less than pulling his state out of its agrarian past and into its industrial and high-tech future.
He also is known as the father of NOAA the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Oceanographers say future generations will thank Hollings for forcing the nation to stop treating 70 percent of the planet like a dumping ground.
Hollings also mandated that South Carolina, unlike many other Southern states, would integrate peacefully. He battled hunger, pushing programs through Congress that have fed millions. He made out-of-control budgets the centerpiece of his campaign for president in 1984, and a year later he co-authored Gramm-Rudman-Hollings the most serious attempt to control the national deficit in the history of the United States.
Thats to say nothing of The Cable Re-regulation Act of 1992. The Telecommunications Act of 1996, the most vigorous campaign in Congress to guard young American eyes from televised violence. The Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. His unyielding protectionism. His three years fighting in North Africa and Europe during World War II.
But Hollings legacy is more. It is the singular man himself.
It is the way he talks in those syrupy, oft-imitated Lowcountry tones. It is the way he looks the Citadel posture, the monogrammed shirts, the thick white hair. It is what he seems to lack a filter between his brain and mouth.
Hollings over the course of his career has let loose volleys of barbs that have infuriated his victims, but at the same time added to a reputation difficult to maintain in an age of media consultants and pulled punches. Even those who think Hollings too liberal, too arrogant and too careless with his words are quick to acknowledge that he is one politician who has stood up for what he believes.
Fritz has a very strong personality and a great sense of pride and a sense that when hes right, hes right, said Don Fowler, a USC professor and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
He does play politics occasionally. But if its something thats important to him, if it has to do with his values, he wont back down. And hes suffered because of it.
LIKE A DIRTY DOG
Hollings never enjoyed the wide margins of victories that kept South Carolinas other iconic senator of the 20th century in Congress for 48 years.
But the late Strom Thurmond, even his admirers say, never challenged South Carolina the way Hollings challenged his state. Thurmond excelled at constituent service. His office was legendary for its ability to find a lost Social Security check or secure an emergency passport.
And where Republican Thurmond eschewed governments expanding role in Americans lives, Democrat Hollings saw government as an engine of change change that often provoked his constituents.
I actually put him in a better category than Thurmond, said former U.S. Rep. Tommy Hartnett, R-Mt. Pleasant, who nearly beat Hollings in the 1992 race for U.S. Senate. Thurmond was the consummate politician. He tried to please everybody.
Fritz was more issue-oriented. He tried to please himself. He was more of a statesman.
Pleasing himself meant changing South Carolina.
In the early 1960s, Hollings saw his states potential stunted by a work force of farmers unprepared for the jobs of the 20th century factory jobs that would raise a lagging standard of living.
But the state Legislature balked at creating a technical college system.
Hollings recalls fighting like a dirty dog to change lawmakers minds and, at one point, trying to speed negotiations with a bottle of whiskey.
He took great political risks.
Like most Southern politicians born in the 1920s, Hollings supported segregation. But in January 1963, anticipating a court ruling requiring Clemson University to integrate, Hollings told South Carolina it must integrate with dignity.
We are a government of laws, not of men, he told the state Legislature.
Hollings represented more of what a New South governor should be, said Harvey Gantt, former mayor of Charlotte and Clemsons first black student. That South Carolina did not explode in racial violence like other Southern states is largely because of Hollings, Gantt said.
Later, in 1991, Hollings riled many of his constituents with his vote against the Gulf War. We are there for oil, pure and simple, he said at the time.
Most Americans supported the war. Hollings aides tried to change the senators mind. They argued that the war resolution was going to pass anyway, so he might as well vote for it. They begged him to think about his next election only 10 months away.
David Rudd, Hollings chief of staff at the time, said the senator told him the following:
David, as a U.S. senator, I make no more important decision than whether to send 20-year-old boys off to die. If I cant make that decision without regard to politics, then I shouldnt be here.
SKILLED AND FEROCIOUS
In the early 1960s, when the current chief justice of the state Supreme Court was a high school senior, she was invited to go on S.C. Educational Television and ask her governor a question.
Jean Toal, who served in the S.C. House before joining the court, doesnt remember what she asked or Hollings answer but she will always remember how he answered.
He talked to me as an equal when I was a high school student, Toal said. I was young and a woman and Catholic it made no difference to him. He inspired me like John F. Kennedy inspired me. Fritz Hollings was one of the big reasons I felt I could contribute to political life.
Personal memories of Hollings often speak to his fair-mindedness and courage.
They dont often speak to his personal warmth or manners.
His tongue is alternatively described as either tart or acid.
Jack Valenti, former special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson and former president of the Motion Picture Association of America, calls Hollings probably the most skilled and ferocious floor debater Ive ever seen.
Unwary new senators start debating with Fritz and may think theyre doing pretty good until they turn their head and it falls off.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale, an admirer of Hollings despite the South Carolinians nickname for him lap dog said some of his snowballs had rocks in them.
Hollings offended when he called South Carolina native and former presidential candidate Jesse Jacksons Rainbow Coalition The Blackbow Coalition.
He offended when he referred to African leaders as cannibals.
Yet Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, asked last week how Hollings will be remembered, stated simply: As one of the great humanitarians of this country.
Fowlers assessment is no less glowing, but it acknowledges Hollings foibles.
We hear so much about values these days, he said. Not many people talk about Fritz and values because hes so good-looking and so Fritz and so full of himself but I do.
For 50 years with Fritz, there was a constant adherence to basic human and ethical and moral values.
Hollings will have none of that hullabaloo. Asked about his place in history, he usually laughs it off, as he did just after announcing his retirement.
Youve got to step aside, and thats when you become a statesman. As long as youre in, youre a bum.
zzzzzzzzzzzz..... "clunk" (sound of me passing out at Holling's praise)
Hollings as much as admitted he didn't stand up for his beliefs when he voted against the civil rights act. He did what was politically expedient.
Senator Ernest Hollings has a long history of using racial slurs. Following a poor showing in the 1983 Iowa Straw Poll, Hollings remarked "You had wetbacks from California that came in here for Cranston," a reference to Alan Cranston who finished second. Hollings also made derogatory references to an African delegation at a 1993 international conference, suggesting they were cannibals. He stated "Everybody likes to go to Geneva. I used to do it for the Law of the Sea conferences and you'd find these potentates from down in Africa, you know, rather than eating each other, they'd just come up and get a good square meal in Geneva." He once referred to Sen. Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio, who was Jewish, as "the senator from B'nai B'rith." The South Carolina Democrat also allegedly referred to blacks with the slur "darkies" in a 1986 interview and once called the Rainbow PUSH coalition the "blackbo coalition."
Ad who could forget his referring to Beavis and Butthead as "Buffcoat and Beaver." Let's end the hit parade with an excerpt from a recent OpEd he wrote:
With Iraq no threat, why invade a sovereign country? The answer: President Bush's policy to secure Israel. Spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jewish vote from the Democrats. You don't come to town and announce your Israel policy is to invade Iraq. But George W. Bush, as stated by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and others, started laying the groundwork to invade Iraq days after inauguration."
Too much consumin goin on out dare.
Hollings is a doddering old fool. I forget what interview he did, maybe 60 Minutes (?), which was posted here, but he's loony. He said Condoleeza Rice should just go back to "teaching Russian, or whatever", among other stupid comments.
Note to Tiny Tommy the D, I will always remember him as the idiot that he is.
Bush returns, Time choses him, and the liberals puke. This guy leaves, as will others, and the yellow brick road is laid out in front of them.
Hollings has done a lot of good for SC I think, despite some of his noncerebral faus paus.
All in all, not a bad man who seems to have genuinely cared for the average man in SC.
He just couldnt keep up with the changing political landscape and ended up compelled to support some things I doubt he would have supported prior to 1990.
You meant that "60 Minutes" interview where Mike Wallace did not ask him one serious question about his past. Wallace gave a promotional rather than a serious interview. Hell, Mike Wallace gave Ricky Williams a tougher interview, even saying that one of his answers to him was "bunk" or "bull".
we got too many peeple in da wagon. we need to git dem out da wagon an' he'p pull da wagon.
Hollings stood up for beliefs...of those who love pork barrel spending.
If it wasn't for Senator Byrd, Hollings would be the champion of pork.
Right. Bring in businesses, give them huge tax incentives that working families can subsidize for years upon years. Then the "companies from around the nation" relocate their existing work force and the net benefit to the community is virtually nil, except more housing developments, congestion and yankees.
Values? Don Fowler invoked the V word? This guy has been a senator all of my adult life and I've never heard his name and value mentioned in the same context, ever.
Fritz was more issue-oriented. He tried to please himself.
I guess that's the "values" they were talking about? I remember the day the Confederate Flag debate opened in the senate and Andre Bauer (RINO-SC), then Senator Bauer, but now our Lt. Gov., said (not verbatim): "I know what the people of my district want, but I have to do what's best for South Carolina." (That will be in the Senate record of March-April 2000). In short, screw the people who elected me. I will decide what's in it for me, and my constituents can get over it. In other words, he admitted he knew how his district wanted him to vote, but they were all retards and not nearly as astute as he was. So it was his duty to vote as his district should have voted if they had as much sense as the esteemed senator.
Hollings conducted himself in the exact same way. "He tried to please himself." There it is in black and white, boys and girls. Regardless of what The People wanted, he was their nanny.
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