Friday, April 12, 2013
Well, my fellow South Carolinians, when it comes to political theater, we just can’t help ourselves. The special election for the first district congressional race is poised just at a time when there’s no other election occurring anywhere around the country, so all eyes are on us. And once again, we are providing drama for the nation to enjoy.
We are the state that has done its best to compete with the political theater and comedy of heavyweights like Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
We are the state that sent to the national stage a U.S. senator who filibustered civil rights legislation while concealing his mixed-race daughter, then aroused the nation’s interest with our Rep. John Jenrette and his wife Rita, whose famous liaison on the Capitol steps spawned a comedy troupe by that name.
More recently, two of our state’s top constitutional officers have run athwart of the law, resulting in the resignation of our lieutenant governor and our state treasurer. Then there was the Alvin Greene situation.
As a native Sandlapper, I know we’re not stupid or even ignorant voters. Perhaps we just like our politicians the way we like our Southern food and our accents - with lots of flavor and texture.
The first district election is now between Republican former governor Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Political scientist Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia has said two things about Sanford: His name recognition is about 100 percent and he “is a punch-line” around the country.
We all know the jokes.
Busch, on the other hand, gets her name recognition from one thing: her comedian brother.
He is the one who “testified” before congress, fully in comedic character, making a farce out of a public hearing on immigration. Not much else is known about Busch and she appears to want to keep it that way.
So the stage is set for more South Carolina political theater, this time with some professional comedy thrown in. Some imaginary sound bites from these two candidates might sound something like this.
The following statements are not real – but they are based on hundreds of years of South Carolina political history:
Sanford: “This is my shot at redemption. It bothers me that people in Washington are not transparent. They don’t keep their promises.”
Colbert Busch: “And I’m running because my brother’s show is up in the ratings, and things don’t always stay that way, so I decided to go for it.”
Sanford: “The voters know I will be true to my promise not to ever vote for a tax hike. In fact, I will stay away from anything with the word “hike” in it!”
Colbert Busch: “I have not done anything in public service yet. Then I heard who the likely Republican nominee for this race would be, and I was outraged.
As I watched Bill Clinton give the keynote address at my party’s national convention last year, I heard the call to rid our government of wayward Republican men who can’t be trusted. That’s franchise infringement. Only Democratic politicians are allowed to do that. I may be a newcomer, but our data is showing that Sanford trails in the polls. Did you hear that? I said Sanford trails – t-r-a-i-l-s…”
Sanford: “Cute. Did your brother’s comedy writers give you those lines, too? Or did you get those from Obama’s people?”
Colbert Busch: “Obama? Who’s he?”
Will Haynie has published more than 400 oped columns as a feature columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News when it was owned by the New York Times. His niche is as a humorous conservative.