So I vanish for 24 hours into the deep cool of the Blue Ridge Mountains, having assumed that South Carolina's political cesspool couldn't possibly be roiled again, but clearly I was wrong. I don't have the Guinness Book of Records handy, but it's probably safe to suggest that never before has the Democratic party been saddled with a U.S. Senate nominee who got busted for showing porn to a college co-ed.
Put your hands together for Alvin Greene. He has taught us that anything is truly possible in America - or, at minimum, in South Carolina, where a jobless guy with no money, no ads, no signs, no website, no organization, and a potential five-year jail stint in his future can somehow garner 59 percent of the vote in a Senate primary and thump his fully-credentialed rival. Unless the state Democrats can persuade Greene to quit (no luck so far), he'll face off this fall against Jim "Waterloo" DeMint.
Greene has been, and remains, virtually mute about most everything. But apparently he was quite specific during his encounter last November with the University of South Carolina co-ed. The student, Camille McCoy, told the Associated Press yesterday that Greene had sat down next to her in a computer lab and asked her to check out the porn on his screen. In her words, "I said, 'That's offensive,' and he sat there laughing...He said, 'Let's go to your room now.' It was kind of scary. He's a pretty big boy. He could've overpowered me." She called the campus cops and picked Greene out of a photo array. Greene has yet to enter a plea in the felony case; this week he said, "I have no comment on that negative story."
Yes, this is truly the year of the outsider.
I can't decide whether Greene is the worst Democratic candidate of the year. The guy who recently won the Illinois Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, he was pretty stiff competition. I mentioned Scott Lee Cohen back in February. Turns out he'd been arrested back in '05 for putting a knife to his girlfriend's throat. He'd also knocked his ex-wife around during a life phase when he was abusing steroids, and his own brother had successfully sued him for 200 large. But the big difference between Cohen and Greene is that Cohen bowed to the Democratic party's pleas and quit the race within days of winning the primary.
Two things are seriously weird about this story. Greene, who was reportedly booted out of the military, doesn't have a dime to his name - yet he somehow put up the required $10,000 to register himself as a Senate candidate. Where did the money come from? Greene says it came from his bank account; the problem with that story is, he was given a public defender in the porn case after he proved that he was indigent. (South Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn says that Greene may have been a stealthily financed "Republican plant." Indeed, the fake candidate strategy is a time-honored South Carolina tradition. But that seems unlikely in this case. No Democrat, nutcase or otherwise, is going to beat Jim DeMint this year.)
But here's the really weird question: Why would 100,180 voters cast ballots in a Senate primary for a total cipher? Greene's Democratic opponent was a former judge and legislator, somebody with credentials and an actual track record. Are voters really so clueless or feckless that they would support someone whom they knew nothing about?
Or - given the fact that the state has an open primary, which may have tempted some Republican voters to cross over and boost Greene's tally - perhaps this is just a South Carolina kinda thing?
Ah, now we may be getting somewhere.
The sole proprietor of this blog is on the road for the month of June. Virtually all June posts will be briefer than the norm, except on the rare weekdays when posts won't show up at all. Apologies in advance for this disturbance in the force. The standard verbosity will return on Monday, June 28.