Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Curious Case Of Alvin Greene And The Cess Pool Of Southern Republican Politics

Through no fault of his own, Alvin Greene landed in the middle of disgraceful South Carolina politics as if he arrived from Mars.

Greene won the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican incumbent Jim DeMint for one of the Palmetto state's two U.S. Senate seats in Tuesday's primary elections.

For four days I have been squeamish to write about Greene because he is an honest, proud man who in my opinion is a pawn of some demonic Manchurian candidate plot hatched by the sleazebags who run the state's political machines.

Greene is what in Southern parlance is described as "slow." His public face does not square with most of his resume in that zilch politicians we encounter don't limit their answers to "Yes" or "No."

I was denounced by South Carolina readers for my coverage of the state's primaries that from an outsider's view was more sex, crime and innuendos than substance. I did not mention Greene's Senate victory because even if the Democrat nominee's name would have been Jesus Christ Superstar, he would lose to the Republican DeMint in November.

The DeMint people scoff at the absurdity of they being involved in Greene's win as a "plant."

I heard former state Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian opine on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC "Countdown" show that in past years it is not uncommon for Republicans to financially support black candidates as "plants" to degrade the Democrats.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a black, said he also suspects Greene was a Republican plant and has called for an investigation.

In the 1990 primary, Clyburn recalls Rod Shealy recruited unemployed black fisherman Benjamin Hunt Jr. to challenge Arthur Ravenel Jr.

It is cruel crap such as this that is systemic in South Carolina in which political consultant Stuart Rotenberg calls the Republican national stinkpot.

In Saturday's Washington Post, a reporter describes a three-hour sit-down interview with Greene at his father's home in rural Manning, a town of 4,000. Interrupted repeatedly by telephone calls from friends, fans and political consultants offering free campaign advise, the reporter observes:

He has no cellphone and no computer, except the one at the public library.
"I check my e-mail, like, it varies, maybe — I'm more, I mean — two or three times a week," he says. "I prefer the telephone. I'm a little old-fashioned. I prefer the telephone. That's the easiest."
Greene, a solidly built 32-year-old with a close-shaved head, sighs heavily as he speaks, pausing often during meandering monologues. Wearing a green T-shirt from a 1993 family reunion, he taps his fingers, alternating between staring at the floor and covering his face with both hands.
He sits on a folding metal chair at a patio table set on the linoleum floor of his father's wood-paneled living room. Above him, a ceiling fan with a bare bulb hangs motionless in the heat. Piles of magazines and mail clutter a desk. The house is dark except for a lone, dim lamp and the glow of the muted television. His father — who says he's a kidney dialysis patient still recovering from open-heart surgery four years ago — lies on the couch, a step away from his son, occasionally moaning in pain or interrupting Greene to say he's veered off subject. 

The record shows and has been verified that Greene graduated from Manning High School in 1995 and received a degree as a political science major at the University of South Carolina in 2000.

He served as an Army intelligence and a unit supply specialist, the last assignment in South Korea, and granted an honorary but involuntary discharge in 2009. He also served in the Army and Air Force Reserves.

His service jacket includes the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, the Korea Defense Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

His early discharge is murky, the Washington Post reported.

"Things weren't working out. . . . Same thing happened in the Air Force. It's a long story in both services."

Greene told the Post reporter he got the idea of entering politics while serving in Korea and saved his money to pay for the $10,400 filing fee to run for U.S. Senate.

That's where this story turns to mud, South Carolina style.

Greene has been unemployed since his Army discharge and filed court documents proving he was an "indigent" to qualify for a court-appointed attorney representing him in a criminal case.

According to one report, Greene tried to pay his filing fee with a personal check but was told by the county official only campaign account checks were acceptable.

The report also indicated Greene failed to file legally required papers with the Secretary of the Senate and Federal Elections Commissiion.

He told the Post reporter he has $114 in his campaign account and plans to debate DeMint on a "major television network."

In the primary he did not campaign, attend rallies and after saying he criss-crossed the state knocking on doors, he retracted that assertion.

He has rejected pleas from Clyburn and state Democratic leaders to withdraw.

Some South Carolina black politicians say Greene's win was a fluke because his name was on top of the ballot in which he drew 60% of the votes over his only rival, a white man,  Vic Rawl, a former judge who has served four terms in the state legislature.

It is impossible to determine the number of Republicans voting for Greene because voters don't register by party in South Carolina's open primary system.

As I said, Greene's written resume doesn't jibe with his in person appearances thrust in the national limelight and resigned to give succinct yes and no answers we almost never hear from politicians running for national office. 

From the Greenville News, S.C. May 25, 2010, Wikipedia reports Greene's platform:

Greene describes himself as a "moderate Democrat." His campaign slogan is "Let's get South Carolina back to work." Greene favors measures to lower the price of gas and supports offshore drilling. He supports a united Korea under a democratic system of government. He would let the Bush tax cuts expire and supports reform of the financial industry. 

Greene supports job creation and would increase highway construction projects and pursue alternative energy sources. He has also called for better school facilities and pay raises for teachers. When asked about free trade, Greene has stated that he has to look into the issue further before taking a position. On the subject of firearms, Greene said he supports the Constitution.



There is a ciminal charge against Greene that is still wallowing in the South Carolina court system. It involves a coed at South Carolina University claiming Greene asked her to look at something she contends was pornagraphy on a school library computer and suggested they go to her room. Greene says simply he thinks the charges will somehow mysteriously "go away." Despite that, it is obvious that at best Greene does not articulate as well as we have preconceived notions how U.S. senatorial candidates should  Until I am convinced someone else did not pay his $10,400 filing fee, I will stick with logic and believe some slimy Republican political operative did. This is one of the most disgraceful dirty tricks I have ever seen as a political observer for 60 years. Think of it in terms of a ruthless manipulation of what white southerners deem a "slow" black man. Until South Carolinians can clean up their act, there is no way in hell people outside the state can consider them major players on the national political arena.


Albert N. Milliron said...

You mean to tell me that you can not substantiate your claims with ANY evidence? By the head line, and being in the business all these years, I expected a smoking gun, not speculation. Very sad

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that I agree with your claim that DeMint is absolutely unbeatable in SC.

He won the state by much less than Bush did in 2004 (he beat Inez Tennenbaum 53.7% to 44.1%, while Bush defeated Kerry 58.0% to 40.9%.)

Since most people familiar with SC and national politics would probably agree that DeMint is more conservative than Bush, this indicates that even in a solid-red state where strong conservative credentials may help shore up the base, it also would cost more moderates.

The state also got bluer in 2008, at a similar clip to most of the rest of the nation, voting for McCain over Obama by a similar margin to DeMint's win over Tenenbaum (53.9% to 44.9%,) indicating that everything else being equal, DeMint may have had a very difficult time beating Tenenbaum had the election been held in 2008.