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The political Valley of Death

John McCain
Republican Presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., goes door to door campaigning with volunteers, Friday, Nov. 30, 2007, in North Myrtle Beach, S.C...

Let me finish as we enter the political Valley of Death, otherwise known as the Republican South Carolina primary.

I cannot forget the experience of following John McCain into that state sixteen years ago.  He'd just upset George W. Bush in New Hampshire, showing a tremendous amount of character.   

One of the highlights heading into South Carolina was our big College Tour at Clemson.  Hosting McCain there in that big student assembly hall was like being at a rock concert.  The young people there were thrilled to be in the same room with a man who'd served and sacrificed so deeply for his country.  It was a rollicking night filled with optimism about McCain's chances.

Then it came...the dirty campaign tactics that destroyed all the hopes of a positive competition for the voters' loyalty. There were rumors put out about Mrs. McCain, rumors about their adopted daughter, all of it pure "dirt," the kind that should leave a permanent mark on those who threw it.

Unfortunately, there are situations where dirt sells, where voters have gotten so used to it that they consider it part of the jumble of politics.

So here is comes. A season of dirt ball in South Carolina follows a couple examples of it out there in Iowa, where people received official-looking documents warning them to attend the caucuses, and bad stories that Dr. Ben Carson was getting out of the race.

I sadly predict we'll see more of these sewer tactics and hope only amid the outcry that voters punish not the target of the dirt, but the hand they spot throwing it.