The Lookout

SC union leader attacks pinata with Gov. Nikki Haley’s likeness

The Lookout

An online video of a South Carolina union leader pummeling a pinata featuring a likeness of her state's Republican governor is eliciting strong reactions from across the political spectrum.

The video shows Donna Dewitt, the outgoing president of the state AFL-CIO, taking a bat to a pinata which bears a photo of Gov. Nikki Haley. The pinata also features a printout of a quote from Haley: "Unions are not needed, wanted or welcome in South Carolina."

In the video, posted to YouTube, Dewitt is encouraged by others at the gathering, with calls of "Hit her again" and "Give her another whack."

As might be expected, the video has gone viral and is eliciting strong reactions from all sides. And while Dewitt tells ABC News that she has no regrets about the pinata episode and meant no "ill intent," the partisan blogosphere isn't letting this one pass by.

Writing on the conservatives site Commentary, Omri Ceren calls it a "spectacle" and "kind of pathetic—impotent revenge fantasies, even and especially ostensibly ironic ones—always are."

As for how the drama will play out, David Weigel writes in Slate that Dewitt's stunt will only play into Haley's hands. Coming just a week after a South Carolina Democrat mocked Haley, who is Indian, as a "Sikh Jesus," Wiegel says the video "makes the critics look like lead-paint-chewers." Eric Randall of The Atlantic agrees, suggesting that Dewitt and others opposing Haley will regret the video "if not because it's in poor taste, then at least because it's giving her political opponent something to talk about." Haley herself posted the video on her own Facebook page writing, "Wow. I wonder if the unions think this kind of thing will make people take them seriously. Check this out."

Despite all that, Dewitt remains unapologetic.

"They made it and I would have played the game with them no matter it would have been pin the tail on the donkey with Nikki Haley's face on it," she told ABC News over the phone. We were certainly hav(ing) a good time.  I'm not mad or angry."

"We've been the brunt of her comments now for two years and that's what the whole thing was.  She's been whacking at us over the last two years," she concludes.

National labor leaders are less sanguine. The AFL-CIO has since issued a statement on the video:

"While it was meant as fun, there is absolutely no place for that kind of joke in a conversation that is extremely serious about how to rebuild our middle class and our country. There's plenty to talk about in Gov. Haley's awful record. We do not believe that's an appropriate joke--working people deserve a better conversation."

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