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POSTED: Monday, June 21, 2010, 9:21 AM

Here's the Sunday print column, slightly expanded...and it's not about the BP spill!

Hey, remember Elena Kagan? President Obama's latest pick for the U.S. Supreme Court? Her Senate confirmation hearing begins one week from today, and normally the advance buzz for such an event would be deafening. High court nomination fights are typically billed as great entertainment, the grownups' equivalent of Shrek Forever After.

But I doubt the Kagan show will measure up, for two reasons. The BP debacle has soaked up the news cycle; scintillating testimony about stare decisis can't possibly compete with the emotional impact of a video spillcam. Secondly, there is Kagan, a respected careerist who in 30 years has said and written virtually nothing about the tempestuous hot-button issues - race, religion, gay rights, executive power, abortion - that so frequently land in the laps of the brethren.

Kagan is the quintessential high court candidate for our hyper-polarized era. With ideologues on the left and right eager as always to re-fight the nation's culture war, to pounce on provocative statements and wield them as ammunition, here's someone who has perfected the art of opacity. Everyone is forced to parse her sparse verbal crumbs.

How far we have traveled from the days when high court nominees were expected to be specific about their views and legal philosophies; Abraham Lincoln, while pondering whom he should nominate for the court, famously insisted, "We must take a man whose opinions are known." But the problem, in our era, is that known opinions tend to get sliced and diced by the ideological warriors. Antonin Scalia was confirmed by a unanimous '86 Senate vote despite his strong conservatism, yet he recently told a law school audience that he doubts he could have been confirmed today. 

It's tempting to simply describe Elena Kagan as the antithesis of Robert Bork, the doomed Reagan nominee whose outspoken conservative writings served as catnip for Senate liberals back in '87. But she is something far more:

She is the ultimate Chauncey Gardener nominee.

That name may not ring a bell. In the 1979 film Being There, a great comic parable, Chauncey (as played by Peter Sellers) is an affably bland household gardener who, by accidental means, becomes friends with a dying, politically-connected billionaire. The billionaire introduces Chauncey to one of his political pals, the president of the United States. The president asks Chauncey for advice on how to cure the economy. Chauncey, a blank slate who speaks only in platitudes about gardening, replies: "As long as the roots are not severed, all is well, and all will be well in the garden. There will be growth in the spring."

The president, hearing what he wants to hear, praises Chauncey's advice as "refreshing and optimistic," and soon quotes Chauncey at an economic summit. Washington is instantly mesmerized, and thirsts to know more about this mystery sage. Chauncey is booked on national TV, where he opines: "It is possible for everything to grow strong, and there is plenty of room for new trees and new flowers of all kinds. A garden needs a lot of care and a lot of love. But first things must wither. We need a very good gardener. Some plants do better in the sun and others do better in the shade."

Everybody scrambles to divine the meaning behind the words, while hearing what they want to hear. The shrewd billionaire thinks that Chauncey's opacity is a sign of shrewdness. The suspicious press corps views Chauncey with suspicion; as a Washington Post editor grumbles, "he plays his cards very close to the vest." A New York Times editorial decides, with cautious praise, that Chauncey is voicing a "peculiar brand of optimism." The FBI thinks he's a CIA spook, and the CIA thinks that he must be FBI.

Similarly, the Kagan nomination rollout has been a virtual Chaunceyfest.

Granted, Kagan has served as the Harvard Law School dean, as a Clinton White House aide, and (currently) as U.S. Solicitor General, but, she has written only a smattering of scholarly articles and a few book reviews - none of which provide more than a hint about her legal and constitutional views. In the recent words of Washington lawyer and blogger Tom Goldstein, she has been "extraordinarily - almost artistically - careful" in keeping the slate blank. Let the parsing begin.

She wrote a 1996 law review article about the Supreme Court's handling of First Amendment cases, but nobody has yet figured out her point of view. You're welcome to try. She wrote that the high court's traditional approach "constitutes a highly, but necessarily, complex scheme for ascertaining the governmental purposes underlying regulations of speech...I have never proposed to show that the most sensible system of free expression would focus on issues of governmental motive to the extent our system does...I leave for another day the question whether our doctrine, in attempting to discover improper motive, has neglected too much else of importance."

And all will be well in the garden.

Partisans on the left and right have been forced to cherry-pick where they can. Conservatives have scoured the 90,000 pages released by the Clinton Library, and discovered that, as a Clinton aide, she once wrote in a memo that a federal ban on physician-assisted suicide would be "a fairly terrible idea." She once advised that Clinton try, via legal argument, to postpone the Paula Jones sexual harassment case until his presidency was over. Nearly a decade earlier, while clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall, she wrote in a memo that she was "shocked" to discover that the U.S. Postal Service had set up a sting to entrap child pornographers. All told, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network declares, Kagan is clearly "a committed liberal."

But the liberals don't feel any kinship, either. They found a Clinton-era memo where she took the side of a religiously-devout landlord who had refused to rent an apartment to an unwed couple. They found evidence that she once argued against the imposition of tough marketing curbs on Big Tobacco. Some also claim that she favors Bush policies in the war on terror - based on one remark that she uttered during her Solicitor General confirmation hearing. When a Republican senator asked her whether she believed that, under military law, an enemy combatant can be detained without trial, she replied, "I think that makes sense, and I think you’re correct that that is the law." But some liberals defend her remark, saying that she was merely noting the law, as spelled out in a recent Supreme Court decision.

Will she dispel all the mystery next week? Not a chance. Which is somewhat ironic, since she herself complained, in a 1995 law review article, about how high court confirmation hearings had become substance-free. She wrote that "the confirmation process takes on an air of vacuity and farce" whenever the nominees become "platitudinous."

Virtually all high court nominees since Bork have sought to say as little as possible, to reduce the circumference of the partisan noose, but none were suited for the task as well as Kagan. It's like the final scene in Being There, after the billionaire dies. The pallbearers are trying to pick his successor, and one of them says, "What about Chauncey Gardner?"

Another pallbearer replies, "What do we know of the man? Absolutely nothing. We don't have an inkling of his past."

To which the first guy says, "Correct! And that could be an asset!"

POSTED: Friday, June 18, 2010, 10:10 AM


Nobody should be fooled by Joe Barton's staged apology yesterday afternoon. Granted, the Texas Republican congressman disavowed his morning lament about how the Obama White House had engineered "a $20-billion shakedown" of poor old BP. And, granted, he said he wished to "retract" his morning statement that had reeked of sympathy for BP without offering a single syllable of sympathy for the people whose lives have been devastated by BP's behavior.

But let's not forget that what Barton said on national TV in the morning - "I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20-billion shakedown" - is stark evidence of what he really believes. And it's significant that Barton's heart bleeds for BP, because if the Republicans do capture the House in the November elections (a distinct possibility), he's the guy who will chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The House Republican leaders were smart enough yesterday to recognize that Barton's slavish licking of the BP CEO's boots was politically embarrassing and that it reinforced the caricature of a Republican party in cahoots with Big Oil (especially given the fact that Barton's top financial benefactors since 1990 have been the oil and utility industries). Hence the pressure they put on Barton to apologize; he remains first in line to take over that committee only because he agreed to eat crow.

Nevertheless, the ritual apology tour was a tad bumpy. At first Barton merely voiced regret for how his morning remarks may have been "misconstrued." Only later he did he voice his alleged desire to "retract" everything he had said (including his comment about how "I do not want to live in a country" where an erring corporation can be forced to put up the money to make things right).

But here's the bottom line: The apology is just a fig leaf - not just for Barton, but for a large segment of the Capitol Hill GOP.

What Barton said to Tony Hayward at the outset of the energy committee hearing yesterday - and, more importantly, what the 100-member House Republican Study Committee said in a statement late Wednesday afternoon - is a testament to what GOP conservatives genuinely believe. What they believe is that any attempt to hold this corporation (or, as Barton put it, any corporation) fully accountable for damage wrought on regular people is nothing more than a shakedown...especially if Barack Obama deems it necessary.

Indeed, while the House GOP leaders came down hard on Barton yesterday, it's noteworthy that they have said squat about the Wednesday statement issued by the RSC, on behalf of its 100 House conservative members. Their take on the BP escrow fund is virtually identical to Barton's take - and they said it first. Here's a reminder of what the House conservatives crafted in their Wednesday email: "BP's reported willingness to go along with the White House's new fund suggests that the Obama administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics."

Why haven't the House GOP leaders demanded that the 100 conservatives apologize for that email? Because it's only an email, whereas Joe Barton was caught committing candor on camera. But the mentality is the same, and it can't be masked by a fig leaf. It's an intrinsic ingredient in the Republican brand, and the leaders' biggest regret yesterday is that it was publicly exposed at the worst possible time.

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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.

POSTED: Thursday, June 17, 2010, 1:13 PM


When word got around yesterday afternoon that BP had indeed agreed to establish a $20-billion escrow redemption fund, I knew it was only a matter of hours before Obama's critics jerked their knees anew, and declared that the president (whom they had previously condemned for not being tough enough during the oil spill crisis) was now being too tough, especially in his attitude toward poor old BP.

So I started the countdown. Three, two, one...sure enough, there it was: an email blast, late in the day, from the House conservatives who call themselves the Republican Study Committee. Who better to defend the worst environmental despoilers in the nation's history, and paint BP as the victim of presidential thuggery?

From the email: "BP's reported willingness to go along with the White House's new fund suggests that the Obama administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics. These actions are emblematic of a politicization of our economy that has been borne out of this administration's drive for greater power and control. It is the same mentality that believes an economic crisis or an environmental disaster is the best opportunity to pursue a failed liberal agenda. The American people know much better." (Actually, every poll indicates that "the American people" are with Obama on this one. The latest Gallup poll reported that 71 percent of Americans want him to get tougher with BP; the new CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll, released today, says that 67 percent want him to get tougher.)

Michelle Bachmann naturally chimed in as well late yesterday, declaring: "We don't think it's a good idea for the federal government to see private industry as essentially a piggy bank for the federal government." (A day earlier, the congresswoman had denounced the BP escrow idea as "a redistribution-of-wealth fund.") Also late yesterday, the right-wing Coral Ridge Ministries declared in an email that Obama's push for the BP escrow fund was tantamount to - hold your breath - "socialism," and, indeed, "His harsh diktat sounds more like Hugo Chavez than Thomas Jefferson."

This morning, meanwhile, Texas GOP congressman Joe Barton took it upon himself to apologize to BP CEO Tony Hayward. (House Republican leader John Boehner quickly distanced himself from Barton's obsequious lament.) Addressing the beleaguered oil executive, who sat at the witness table in preparation for his well-deserved flogging, Barton said: "I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20-billion shakedown."

I'm confused. Didn't the Republicans complain, during the Wall Street crisis, that the taxpayer was being unfairly soaked, that the taxpayer shouldn't have to pick up the tab for the private sector's egregious abuses? So why are these conservatives now complaining about an escrow account that will put BP on the hook for its abuses - while keeping the taxpayer free and clear? Isn't that what they wanted before?

It takes a courageous politician to stick up for BP these days, but Mississippi Gov. (an ex-GOP national chairman) Haley Barbour is just the guy. On Fox News the other night, he fretted that a BP escrow fund might seriously hurt BP's cash flow: "I do worry that this idea of making them make a huge escrow fund is going to make it less likely that they’ll pay for everything. They need their capital to drill wells. They need their capital to produce income." Who says that conservatives aren't bleeding hearts, at least when profit margins are affected?

But the big questions: Why do so many Republicans seem uncomfortable with the concept of holding BP fully accountable for the damage wrought on land and sea? Would they prefer that the Gulf Coast taxpayer-victims bail out a company that's too big to fail?  

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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.
 

POSTED: Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 9:56 AM


Behold the spectacle of a nation spinning its wheels in perpetuity.

Here was Barack Obama last night, in the Oval Office: "For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked - not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor."

Here was Jimmy Carter, on July 15, 1979, in the Oval Office: "Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem?....What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another....Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift."

Obama, last night: "The consequences of our inaction are in plain sight....Each day, we spend nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil....We can't afford not to change how we produce and use energy - because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater."

Carter, 31 years ago: "Our excessive dependence on (foreign oil) has already taken a tremendous toll on our economy and our people....This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our nation."

Obama, last night: "(T)he time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny."

Carter, 31 years ago: "We must face the truth, then we can change our course...Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy, we can win for our nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny."

Obama, last night: "Each of us has a part to play in a new future that will benefit all of us....the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs - but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment. And only if we rally together and act as one nation – workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors."

Carter, 31 years ago: "The solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country. It can rekindle our sense of unity, our confidence in the future, and give our nation and all of us individually a new sense of purpose."

Obama, last night: "The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet. You know, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon."  

Carter, 31 years ago: "We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence...We ourselves are the same Americans who just ten years ago put a man on the moon."

Obama, last night: "We know we'll get there....What sees us through, what has always seen us through, is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it."

Carter, 31 years ago: "I firmly believe that we have the national will to win this war."

Oh really? We do? What are the odds that, 30 years from now, yet another president will offer up a third version of the same speech to an oil-addicted electorate?

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POSTED: Tuesday, June 15, 2010, 11:11 AM

It's no mystery what President Obama will say tonight, in his first televised Oval Office address. He'll say that the worst man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history is sure to get worse before it gets better; that the federal government is taking steps to ensure, via actual oversight of the oil companies (as opposed to blind obeisance) that such a disaster can never happen again; that BP will be compelled, via the president's legal authority, to pay for its unconscionable sins down to the last dime; and lastly (good luck with this one), that the only way to truly ensure a greener future is for all car-loving, suburban-sprawling Americans to wean themselves of their addiction to oil.

Oh, and one more thing: According to the latest conventional wisdom, Obama needs to get really, really angry.

James Carville has said that the president needs to share his "rage." Matt Lauer has said that Americans need to see him "kick some butt." Roger Simon, the Politico columnist, asked Obama the other day, "You have to let people know you care, and people want to know (that the spill) matters to you...How do you move people on levels other than intellectual — on emotional levels?” Chris Matthews, on MSNBC last night, sputtered, "Why doesn't Obama grab the guy (BP CEO Tony Hayward)? Why doesn't he call him up and say, 'Hey, buddy, get your act together'?"

I'm not clear what people actually expect Obama to do. Gnaw the Oval Office carpet on live TV? Waterboard the BP officials with their own oil? Lock them in the White House basement and go medieval on them, a la Pulp Fiction?

But seriously, folks, if Obama bowed to conventional wisdom and totally lost his cool, the new conventional wisdom would decree that he was emotionally immature and, hence, unpresidential.

Ironically, the old conventional wisdom, circa 2007 and 2008, faulted Obama for supposedly engaging people's emotions too much. (Commentator Tom Bevan, in '07: "His brand is driven primarily by its emotional appeal." National Review's Jim Geraghty, April '08: Obama's emotional pitch "is just a variation of religious door-to-door salesmen showing up on your front stoop.") Today we apparently believe the opposite - that Obama has no emotional appeal - and now we want him to bond with our anger.

Fareed Zakaria, the Newsweek columnist, smartly noted the other day that this apparent need for an emoter-in-chief is actually a very recent development. Back in 1989, when the Exxon Valdez fouled the waters off Alaska, few in the commentariat demanded that President George H. W. Bush get mad and kick butt. Indeed, his administration ceded the entire cleanup to the oil industry, and a top Cabinet guy publicly stated that any government role would be "counterproductive."

Well, that laissez faire attitude won't do anymore. Obama tonight needs to make it clear that his government has taken the lead in this crisis; that BP will hop to its commands (rather than the reverse); and that, in the long term, he will persevere with steely resolve. That's the appropriate presidential emotion - at a time when 71 percent of Americans are now telling Gallup that they want him to be tougher on BP.

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By the way, here's our BP outrage of the day:

The BP "Call Center," located in west Houston, is supposed to be a conduit to the public. Twelve hours a day, the operators are taking lots of inquiries and complaints from people on the Gulf Coast who are freaked about the oil. But according to one operator - who this weekend spilled the beans to KHOU, a Houston television station - the Call Center is just a PR front, designed merely to give the appearance of BP outreach.

"We take all (the) information and then we have nothing to give them, nothing to give them," the operator said. "We’re a diversion to stop them from really getting to the corporate office, to the big people."

She said that she and her fellow employes are just warm bodies on the other end of the phone - and since they know that the calls will never be passed up the ladder, some don't even bother taking notes:

"They just put down, type 'blah blah blah.' No information, just 'blah blah blah.'"

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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.


 

POSTED: Monday, June 14, 2010, 8:16 AM

I'm traveling today, with no chance to write. Back tomorrow.

POSTED: Friday, June 11, 2010, 10:16 AM


I'll end the week where I began, with the BP oil spill.

I wrote on Monday that, according to the government's best estimate, roughly 800,000 gallons of goo have been pouring into the Gulf each day. But this morning we have an updated government estimate. It's roughly 1.3 million gallons a day.

But to truly get a flavor for the disaster, to really appreciate what can happen when private industry is free to profiteer in public waters without any meaningful federal oversight, let's check out a few telling details in the BP emergency spill plans. Naturally, the plans (one for the Gulf region, one for the Deepwater rig) were approved last year by the lapdog practitioners of laissez faire.

The Associated Press dug into the cursory plans on Wednesday - laudably so, demonstrating yet again the public service value of mainstream journalism - and it came up with some goodies that would be hilarious if not for the fact that they are scandalous:

1. BP boasts in its plans that, under the worst-case spill scenario, it could skim, vacuum, or otherwise remove as many as 20 million gallons of oil a day. (BP is currently capturing roughly 630,000 gallons a day.)

2. BP says there was a 21 percent chance of any oil reaching the Louisiana coast within a month of a spill. Nor did BP foresee any harm to coastal marine life; in its words, "Due to the distance to shore, 48 miles, and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected." (The oil reached the coast - 100 percent chance - within nine days of the spill. BP tells the AP: "We are greatly disappointed that oil has made landfall." The crisis itself "will offer us much to learn from.")

3. There are no details in the plans about how birds should be cleansed of oil, because BP didn't envision any such need.

4. There is no mention whatsoever of the Gulf's loop current, which is expected at some point to transport the oil around Florida's southern tip and up the eastern seaboard.

5. To demonstrate its preparedness for an emergency, BP mentions an equipment firm called Marine Spill Response Corp., and lists the firm's website address. But the address itself links to a defunct Japanese language home page.

6. BP lists otters, sea lions, seals, and walruses as "sensitive biological species" that deserve protection in the Gulf of Mexico. There are no otters, sea lions, seals, or walruses in the Gulf of Mexico.

7. BP lists emergency phone numbers for mammal specialist offices in Florida and Louisiana. Turns out, those numbers are no longer in service. BP also listed a few marine life specialists, but got their names and phone numbers wrong.

8. And finally, the piece de resistance: BP lists Professor Peter Lutz as a go-to wildlife specialist based at the University of Miami. Turns out, Peter Lutz left the University of Miami 20 years ago. Remember, this BP emergency plan was written in 2009. Peter Lutz died in 2005.

Does anyone out there care to argue that what America needs now is more deregulation? Does anyone care to argue in favor of keeping the federal law that caps an oil company's liability for spill-related damages at a mere $75 million (roughly what an oil company earns in a day)? And how at this point can any sentient American continue to gas up his car at a BP station?

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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.

 

POSTED: Thursday, June 10, 2010, 1:27 PM

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.

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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.

 

About this blog

Cited by the Columbia Journalism Review as one of the nation's top political reporters, and lauded by the ABC News political website as "one of the finest political journalists of his generation," Dick Polman is a national political columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is on the full-time faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, as "writer in residence." Dick has been a frequent guest on C-Span, MSNBC, CNN, NPR and the BBC. He covered the 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 presidential campaigns.

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