NOTABLE & QUOTABLE

Champions are not ranked last

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In The Charleston Post and Courier, Neil Robinson Jr., a Charleston attorney and chairman of the S.C. Education Oversight Committee, writes, "S.C. schools shouldn't settle for last place."

It was hard not to get caught up in the recent March Madness, even as a die-hard Clemson Tiger fan. During the final game where the University of South Carolina women's basketball team earned the title of No. 1 in the country, one of the announcers said that South Carolina is the place to be if you are interested in living in a place where champions live. That announcer was correct. Athletes from our state have shown themselves to be champions on national fields and courts, and they have made South Carolina fans proud to be able to say we are No. 1.

The irony is that there was another ranking that our state received in March - a ranking that many could argue has much more of an impact on the future of our state and the citizens who call it home. On March 1, U.S. News and World Report released its "Best States" ranking. Each state received an overall ranking as well as individual rankings on seven metrics: health care, education, crime and correction, economy, governance, opportunity and infrastructure. Across these seven metrics, South Carolina ranked 45th overall. In education, which measured early childhood education through college, we ranked 50th.

It is time to work our collective tails off in the classrooms of South Carolina schools - champions are not ranked last.

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In "The Price of Obama's Mendacity," The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens writes, "The consequences of his administration's lies about Syria are becoming clear."

Last week's cruise-missile strike against a Syrian air base in response to Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons has reopened debate about the wisdom of Barack Obama's decision to forgo a similar strike, under similar circumstances, in 2013.

But the real issue isn't about wisdom. It's about honesty.

On Sept. 10, 2013, President Obama delivered a televised address in which he warned of the dangers of not acting against Assad's use of sarin gas, which had killed some 1,400 civilians in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta the previous month.

"If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons," Mr. Obama said. "As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas, and using them. Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical weapons on the battlefield. And it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons, and use them to attack civilians."

It was a high-minded case for action that the president immediately disavowed for the least high-minded reason: It was politically unpopular. The administration punted a vote to an unwilling Congress. It punted a fix to the all-too-willing Russians. And it spent the rest of its time in office crowing about its success.

In July 2014 Secretary of State John Kerry claimed "we got 100% of the chemical weapons out."

Today we know all this was untrue. Or, rather, now all of us know it. Anyone paying even slight attention has known it for years.

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In The New York Times, Bryce Covert asks, "In Sexual Harassment Cases, What Are We Settling For?"

For more than a decade, women have publicly lodged sexual harassment complaints against the Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. In 2004, a producer on his show, Andrea Mackris, filed a lawsuit accusing him of harassing her with sexually explicit phone calls. Tabloids and late-night TV hosts seized on the lurid details, which included telling her to buy a vibrator, calling her while apparently masturbating and engaging in one-sided phone sex entailing loofas - some of which Ms. Mackris said she recorded.

But the case was settled without a trial or much public insight into what actually happened. Mr. O'Reilly has continued in his role as a prime-time host at the network all these years since, making tens of millions of dollars.

He is in a more precarious place now. In the past week, at least 52 advertisers have pulled their ads from O'Reilly's program, including Advil, Mercedes-Benz and Jenny Craig.

What changed?

A news report in The New York Times exposed a number of payments made in secret to other women accusing the host of sexual harassment over the years. Nothing has substantively changed since the details of Ms. Mackris's treatment were exposed in her lawsuit. But now the public is privy to other women who say they suffered the same abuse, and aware of the backdoor deals that were struck to keep them quiet.

Bringing sexual harassment charges against an employer is never easy, and the victims who get settlements are the lucky ones. No one should begrudge them securing whatever bit of redress that they can. But when they win a private settlement, the rest of us lose.

Notable & Quotable is compiled by Graham Osteen. Contact him at graham@theitem.com.