Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Alvin Greene, political scientist?

Jerry Stratton, June 11, 2010

The conspiracy theorists are out in South Carolina. An unknown won the Democratic nomination for Senate, and will go up against Republican incumbent Jim DeMint. While over on the Republican side the Governor’s race was getting all of the attention, Democrat Al Greene beat out establishment Democrat Vic Rawl in a race nobody was paying attention to.

Some Democrats are calling it a Republican conspiracy. While it is remotely possible that some flaky Republican might have bankrolled Greene’s application, there’s no way that the Republicans secretly convinced tens of thousands of Republican voters to ignore the high-profile Republican primary races and vote in the Democratic primary. They’re just not that competent.

And while, as some conspiracy theorists have pointed out, South Carolina is an “open” primary, it’s an open primary like California. It’s all or nothing. You can choose to vote on the Democratic or Republican races, but you can’t pick and choose between them.

Any hypothetical Republican moles would have had to choose not to vote for their preferred candidate in the Governor’s race, a race that was anything but wrapped up. With the wild rumors running around South Carolina, none of the polls could be trusted to hold up. Primary polls are always iffy—take a look at Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas. She was supposed to lose. Add in the craziness being tried against Nikki Haley, and there really was no telling what was going to happen until the results started coming in. And as it happened, a few more votes and Nikki Haley could have sewed up the race on primary day.

That’s not a race you want to stay out of in order to replace one beatable opponent with another beatable opponent, even if you do think one is more beatable than the other.

This is something that conspiracy theories almost always have against them: they require vast skill and intelligence combined with utter stupidity. In this case, the Republicans already had the perfect opponent in Vic Rawl. He was predictable and unliked. Why risk replacing him with an unpredictable nobody? A felony record isn’t any guarantee he’ll be defeated. He still has the chance to be found not guilty, and in any case many politicians have survived felonies to a ripe old age in office.

Unpredictability is dangerous to predictable politicians. The beltway mentality makes most politicians very predictable. That’s why Sarah Palin has been able to influence the Obama administration so heavily. Obama tends to the predictable response. One of your major campaign contributors is in a scandal? You need to distance yourself from them. In your average dead girl/live boy scenario this might be sound advice. But when the corpse is washing up on beaches in every state along the Gulf of Mexico it becomes utterly silly to refuse to meet with the company that’s trying to stop it—once someone with common sense points this out.

I doubt that many people inside the beltway considered it out of the ordinary that Obama wasn’t meeting with the head of British Petroleum. Of course he wouldn’t—as a politician, you need to distance yourself from campaign contributors who screw up.

Outside the beltway, you need to talk to the people who are going to get things done, whatever your past ties with them are. Once this was pointed out by Palin, it was obvious, and so now the President is going to do it, and pretend it wasn’t because of Palin’s Facebook note.

Whatever he is, Al Greene is not a politician yet, and he’s not bound by their rules. He doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as sharp as Palin; he’s definitely slow in this interview. But if he’s not up to the level of Palin, he’s also not sounding any more stupid than your average politician or news reporter either.

If Wikipedia can be trusted in this case, he’s got a college education—in Political Science—and served 8 years in the military, where he was awarded several medals, albeit ones you get mostly for showing up and not doing anything stupid.

The felony charge is the wild card. But if he can manage to avoid that, one thing he has going for him, Al Greene is an underdog. Vic Rawl wasn’t. That alone is going to get him some votes. Smarmy politicians can be taken down a notch in debates. Do that to an underdog and you’re just an ass. The guy certainly seems to have the mainstream media confused. A few more public appearances confounding people like Olbermann, and he might get enough support to pull him across in November. Jim DeMint needs to take Greene more seriously than he would Rawl. If Greene manages to continue not talking too much, it would only take a few lucky breaks to win.

Big Picture: “What do you know about Senator DeMint, and what could you say about him as a campaign opponent, and what kind of a platform would you run against Senator DeMint?”

Greene: “Someone has to be held accountable for the bad situations that we currently have here in the state and across the country. I mean, I think the incumbent representatives are a major part of why we are in this predicament.”

Big Picture: “You can’t really mount a successful campaign without a lot of money. Jim DeMint has four million dollars.”

Greene: “In the end, it’s not the money that gets added up. It’s the votes that count.”

Beats the hell out of muddy gardener clichés.

I think he’s got a much better chance than Rawl did of beating DeMint. I hope DeMint takes him seriously.

Update: added an interview with his accuser. Doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of leeway on this charge.

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  2. The Al Greene Conspiracy ->