Capt. Smith sits this one out

Ran into James Smith this morning at breakfast, and expressed my surprise that Vincent Sheheen was running for governor and he was not.

He said he just couldn't afford the time away from his family. As you'll recall, he was separated from the wife and four kids for about a year and a half, most of it fighting those folks President Obama calls the Tolly-bon. He said his wife was supportive, but he couldn't stand to miss the time with his kids. He said a Soapbox Derby event over the weekend (or was in Pinewood Derby? I get those mixed up) underlined that for him; if he were to run for gov, he'd miss such events.

On other matters, I mentioned I had thought of him and the other guys of Team Swamp Fox last night, because I've been watching (via Netflix) the HBO series "Generation Kill," based on the book by the same name by a Rolling Stone correspondent embedded with Force Recon Marines on the tip of the spear in the Iraq invasion in '03. The Marines, who were veterans of Afghanistan, talk about that experience a lot, and are sometimes nostalgic because the way they had fought on that front made more sense to them.

Anyway, I need to get together with Rep. Smith sometime and talk at greater length; I haven't had a chance to do that since he got back.

18 thoughts on “Capt. Smith sits this one out

  1. mac

    I disagree, He was there because he wanted to be, I think. It’s a shame he won’t run.
    Besides, Mr. Smith is a democrat and these that’s all I care about (I’m kinda partisan – I admit) so if the editor wants to interview him for an article or something, all the better.
    I AM reminded of a partisan tilt in the other direction though. We were standing in line beside a guy waiting in line to get into a restaurant who found out my late father earned a CIB in the far-away unpleasantness known as the Second World War. (It fell outta the overcoat of his I borrowed and “forgot” to return). College boys do that, I guess.
    The guy went ape, no end of questions…and no end of comments (all favorable I guess). I tried to answer them as best I could but when we got got onto politics he started to get a funny look on his face and disengage from the conversation.
    You see he found out Dad was a democrat too.

  2. Brad Warthen

    Let’s see… Rep. Smith asks for a transfer from the JAG corps to the infantry after 9/11, and keeps getting denied, and bucks it up all the way to Washington, and finally somebody tells him, as a way of shutting him up, Sure, you can do that, but you’ll have to give up your commission and start over as an enlisted recruit.
    To their great surprise, he does just that, undergoing basic training at the age of 38. He works his way back up through the ranks of the infantry, goes to OCS and becomes an officer again. He goes through advanced infantry training, with the goal of being a platoon leader. Then when he’s promoted to captain he can’t be a platoon leader any more, so they train him for a specialized mission as one of a handful of Americans to be imbedded with Afghan forces in an area where the Taliban is resurgent. He goes over there, fights the war for a year, then comes home.
    Everybody says when he comes home what a great boost his war record would be when he runs for governor.
    But then, he doesn’t run for governor. He did the service, fought the war, but doesn’t make the political hay out of it that everyone thought he would.
    And out of all that, “Bill C.” concludes that “That’s the only reason he did it.”
    I don’t guess Bill has every talked to James Smith, or heard him speak. He’s sounds the way Jimmy Stewart would have sounded if he had done a sequel called “Mr. Smith Goes to War.” When he talks about serving his country and the Afghan people in that unassuming way he has, you can practically hear the fife in the background like when Oliver Wendell Douglas talked about farming on “Green Acres.”
    James Smith is the real deal, folks — a genuine patriot and a fine citizen. There ARE such people still walking the earth, you know.

  3. KP

    So, if Smith isn’t going to do it, what do we think about Vincent Sheheen? Is he the best candidate the Democrats could field? What about Jim Rex, Joe Erwin, Inez? What does everybody think?
    p.m., are you asleep? I know you stay up all night. Not to hijack the blog, but I’m almost done with Anna Karenina and I LOVE IT. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. And Brad, Tolstoy does drone on and on, but he has really uncanny insights into character and behavior and emotion. You can recognize everyone you know.

  4. Brad Warthen

    Vincent would be an excellent candidate. I don’t know how viable he is, though, being so little known across the state.
    Inez and, to a lesser extent, Jim Rex are way ahead of him in the name-recognition department. Joe Erwin probably less so with rank and file, but more plugged into the party apparatus across the state.
    Vincent’s a fine young man with a lot of good instincts, and might make a fine governor if he could get elected. But that’s a big IF. I do think the more voters got to know him, the more they’d like him. He doesn’t have the personal abrasiveness you saw with his Daddy and his uncle (sorry, Fred and Bob). But getting to the point that you DO get known and liked is a big hill to climb.

  5. p.m.

    Naw, KP, I just don’t know Capt. Smith, though my mother was a Smith, and I had an uncle named James McFarland Smith, so I don’t have much to say here.
    I called him Uncle Mac. He could throw a silver dollar into the air and put a .22 bullet through it.

  6. Brad Warthen

    Well, I think THIS Smith would probably tell you that with an M-4 carbine on full auto, you can probably tear up that silver dollar without having to be Davy Crockett or something…

  7. p.m.

    Hey, Brad, my Uncle Mac also self-published a book of poetry. He worked as an executive for South Carolina’s largest paper-packaging company. He was born with a heart murmur, the youngest of five children, and he was the first of them to die, but he accumulated the most of any of his siblings.
    You can make all the jokes you want about me, but you leave my family (and I don’t mean fictitious Uncle Weldon) out of it.

  8. KP

    But seriously, though, which of the Democrats might have a real chance of getting elected? Any? I really don’t think Joe Erwin or Vincent Sheheen. Rex?

  9. Brad Warthen

    Chance of getting elected in the primary or in the general? You have to deal with a lot of variables. In the primary, the ones with name recognition — Inez, Rex — would have the advantage (if they ran). But if Vincent Sheheen could make it through the primary, presumably he’d become better known to people through that process, and have a shot in the general whomever the GOP puts up.
    Day after day, Mark Sanford is doing his best to make sure that whoever wins the Democratic primary will have a shot in the general. Just since the first of this year, his tone-deafness on the stimulus and on unemployment has been a gift to the Dems. They’re not going to let voters forget that when the chips were down, he’s the guy who begged Washington not to help out, and quibbled over the bookkeeping when people needed unemployment benefits.
    Hey, I AGREE with the guy that Employment Security should be restructured. But he has demonstrated a rather stunningly lack of synchonization with concerns of average folks.
    The irony of this is that it will hurt the GOP nominee, even if it’s a good guy like Henry McMaster. I say “irony” because it’s not at all fair to hold the party accountable for Sanford, because he’s never cared a lick for his party. If you compiled a list of 10 people who like Sanford the least over at the State House, the top five, at least, would be Republicans. Sanford is about Sanford and his personal plans. But average folks who don’t know the score just see that R, and will blame the party.
    A lot can change, but 2010 right now looks like the best year for a Democrat (if he/she is even a moderately presentable candidate) in several gubernatorial cycles.

  10. Bill C.

    Brad, you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think he’ll run in the next election. He’s taking time off now, for personal reasons, but I will guarantee you that he’ll ramp up full force in four years with his “heroics” as his backdrop. He’s a career politician and did his enlistment as much for his career as he did for personal reasons. So you’ll have to suck it up and wait 4 more years before you’re the governor’s press secretary.

  11. martin

    Whatever happened with Sanford’s Guard, Reserve, whichever? Did he drop out? I can’t believe he would be going to weekend duty or the weeks in the summer without a press release. Am I just missing it?

  12. p.m.

    Actually, Brad, my uncle was an outdoorsman who was very good with a gun, but didn’t hunt. He was also a politically benign intellectual. There was no discernible left in him, nor right. It seemed as though he never even recognized the possibility of partisanship, so you would have liked him, I think.

  13. Guero

    I’ll wager Bill C. comes from the genus, “chickenhawkus republicanus”.
    What a sad reflection on our citizenry when a good guy’s motives are questioned by a hack repugnant.

  14. Brad Warthen

    By the way, folks — I just spoke on the phone with a concerned third party who just wanted to make sure I knew that THIS “Bill C.” wasn’t the Bill C. who was Capt. Smith’s commanding officer in Afghanistan.
    Well, it hadn’t occurred to me for a moment that it WAS. And of course, it isn’t. I’ve exchanged thoughts in the past with James’ C.O., and he has only good things to say.
    THIS “Bill C.” with the disrespectful comments is a regular here on the blog, unfortunately. Basically, he doesn’t bother to post unless he thinks of something derogatory to say about somebody.

  15. Bill C.

    Guero – You’re just upset because I’m not from the genus, “liberalus limpwristus”
    Brad – If you don’t like what I have to say, as owner of your blog you have every opportunity to block me. Call my comment “disrespectful”, but I’m going to bet that it holds some truth.

  16. jim

    Sanford continues to serve his reserve duty one weekend every month and two weeks in the summer…no press releases.
    In spite of Brad completely missing the point, Sanford is not concerned about the Republican or Democrat party but doing the right thing for taxpayers.
    Sure it is less painful to borrow more money from the chinese to avoid cutting back on our excesses…for now. But Sanford rightfully points out that you can’t solve a problem caused by excessive borrowing with more borrowing. You just postpone it until later…and make the inevitable solution ultimately more painful.
    Unfortunately too many selfish people want to continue to live high on the hog now and leave those problems for their kids and grandkids.


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