Alvin Greene not really anything new for SC

At lunch today, I said something about “Mad Men,” and a lady friend mentioned that one of the actresses from the show was on the cover of Playboy. This grabbed my attention, although I calmed down a bit when she told me it was NOT Christina Hendricks, who plays Joan Holloway. Yes. I was disappointed, too. But I wanted to know who it was, and was already trying to think whether an actress from “Mad Men” being on the cover would be a good enough excuse to buy a copy, the way I justified to my wife buying the Jimmy Carter interview edition (think, honey — all those interesting articles!), while the lady did some hunting on her iPhone — and came up with the picture.

And as I looked, and admitted I didn’t recognize her, but might if given the opportunity to study additional photos more closely, she said, “You know, this is what Alvin Greene got arrested for.”

Which is true. And in fact, the more I think about it, that arrest is perhaps the one thing that explains why we’re so flabbergasted that he is the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. There are other things. His unemployment, for instance. But I was unemployed for a year, and I’d vote for me. The fact that he lives with his Dad? Why wouldn’t a single, unemployed guy, recently out of the Army, stay with his aged father? As for being out of the Army: Sure, we don’t know why he was involuntarily released, but is it all that unusual to have unanswered questions about a candidate’s military service, if he even has any? Do we really know where W. was when he was supposed to be on Guard duty? Has anyone yet learned exactly where and how John Kerry was wounded to get those Purple Hearts that were his early ticket home? Mr. Greene was honorably discharged, and how much else to we need to know.

OK, so he’s no public speaker, and his grasp of the issues is unimpressive. Whoop-te-doo.

Allow me to remind you that this state’s last Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate was no great bargain either. Remember Bob Conley? He, too, was a bit on the flaky side. Sure, he actually had some campaign materials, but they reflected a set of values that seemed oddly out of place in a Democrat, and would make a reasonable person wonder how in the world he won the nomination.

Here’s what I wrote about him in The State’s endorsement of Lindsey Graham:

Bob Conley is one of those anomalous candidates who occasionally step into political vacuums — a nominal Democrat who takes the position of the angry right wing on immigration and would abolish the Federal Reserve. His Web site touts words of support from Ron Paul and the wife of Patrick Buchanan.

Bob Conley

In fact, he sounded for all the world like he was running under the Tea Party banner, before we’d even heard of the Tea Party. For more about Bob and his views, check this campaign flier.

He was fringe. He was out there. He was nobody’s concept of a Democrat. In fact, the few views that Alvin Greene has expressed are a far better fit for the party. So how did this guy win the nomination? The same way Alvin Greene did. Zero attention was paid to the race beforehand because Lindsey Graham, like Jim DeMint today, seemed like a sure bet (once he got past the extremists in his own party in the primary). So voters went into the booth without crucial information — and inexplicably, inexcusably voted for someone they knew nothing about. Sound familiar?

It could just as easily have been Alvin Greene — and this time, it was.

There is very little new in this situation. So the guy faces charges from showing pictures to a co-ed? Hey, he could have been an ax murderer for all the voters knew.

So why are we so worked up about Alvin Greene, as though nothing like this has ever happened before? Here’s my theory: The national media had their eyes on SC because of the craziness surrounding Nikki Haley, and just before they turned away, they went “Hey wait — and these nuts also elected some guy they’d never heard of…?” And from that, another star was born.

Silly national media. They didn’t realize we do this all the time.

19 thoughts on “Alvin Greene not really anything new for SC

  1. clark surratt

    Brad, This is the simplest and by-far best break-down I’ve seen on Alvin Greene. It is terse analysis with a light touch. Greene is just a regular guy, quite representative of us common South Carolinians. Which leaves me more disappointed in Jim Clybrn, whom I’ve admired for decades, to say there was “elephant dung in his nomination.
    Your old associated

  2. bud

    Do we really know where W. was when he was supposed to be on Guard duty? Has anyone yet learned exactly where and how John Kerry was wounded to get those Purple Hearts that were his early ticket home?

    You do realize that these two stories are entirely different. Let’s start with Kerry. The United States navy concluded that John Kerry earned all of his medals and acted honorably and courageously in every aspect of his service in Vietnam. The dispicable and slanderous attempt by the vile swiftboat smear campaign was completely refuted by the men who served with Kerry. That whole disgusting attach against an honorbable man by the right-wing hate mongers was one of the most disgusting episodes in American politics.

    As for Bush. It is completely beyond dispute that George W. Bush failed to show up for his MANDATORY, repeat MANDATORY physical that he needed in order to continue his service as a pilot. No one. Repeat no one disputes that fact. Bush never gave a coherent reason for that failure. Once he was no longer qualified to fly he was assigned to a duty station in Alabama where it appears he failed to show up for duty. This is not proovable but the evidence suggests he never did his duty. Then he was released early from his TANG duties.

    Again we have Brad in his zeal to make things balanced provide an example of a completely disproven allegation against a genuine war hero with what is clearly a very dishonorable service record of Mr. Bush. There is no need to do that. Just point out the facts and let the evidence tell the story. In this case Kerry was a hero and Bush was a coward.

  3. Brad

    Thanks so much for weighing in, Clark! It’s great to hear from you!

    Ladies and gentlemen, Clark Surratt… our senior political writer when I first became political editor of The State. As a long-time observer of politics, he knows how unremarkable Mr. Greene is. The difference is modern media.

    As for Bud’s comments: Bud, you have it exactly backward. You seem to think that I had to reach to come up with the Kerry example to balance the Bush example. No, the Kerry example came to mind first; I had to think of the Bush example as a vain attempt to keep you from going ballistic on me. Didn’t work, did it?

    You see, Bud, I’ve never wanted to get into the whole issue of Kerry’s war record because folks like you are SO protective of him, and I figure I never had the chance to serve, so who am I to talk? I’ve always opted to honor him for his service (right up to the point that he started palling around with Jane Fonda — dang, there I go again; I just can’t resist starting trouble).

    But the example still comes to mind first because of my own family experience. To you, the questions raised by the “Swift Boat” people were so wicked, so nefarious, that it’s become a verb meaning to do something underhanded and unjust.

    To me, it was just the kind of thing I expected to hear from veterans, because I’ve heard it from my father for over 40 years. I’ve heard many times his disdain for the men in his command during his year in the jungles of Vietnam who would beg him for Purple Hearts for “wounds” that were virtually invisible. He tells this one story in particular about the guy who came back from a patrol and asked my Dad to put in for a Purple Heart for him. My Dad looked at him standing there hale and hearty and said, What for? The guy pulled up the leg of his pants and showed my Dad the back of his leg and said, For this! And my Dad looked and said, I don’t see anything. The guy urged him to look closer, saying, see those little black specks? And Dad allowed as how he could barely see something looking like a few grains of pepper. Shrapnel! announced the young officer triumphantly. My Dad very reluctantly agreed to put in the paperwork for him.

    As for himself, my Dad received quite a few decorations in that tour of combat duty, including multiple Bronze Stars. But I think he would have had to take an enemy bullet to the chest to let anyone put in for a Purple Heart for him. For instance — his helicopter was shot down, and plunged to the bottom of a river. He was the last man to get out of it alive. His ears were bleeding from the water pressure; he wears a hearing aid today because of it (which is not to mention the health problems he has attributable to Agent Orange). But when the corpsman proposed he should get a Purple Heart, he said no way — not for anything that indirect and incidental to enemy fire.

    Anyway, while I chose not to write about it, all during that 2004 campaign I was hearing my Dad raise the question, Why did Kerry get to go home before his tour was over? Did the wounds he received justify that?

    So that leaps to mind when I think, as I thought above: “(I)s it all that unusual to have unanswered questions about a candidate’s military service?”

    My point was, and remains — Greene served. So did Kerry. Let’s just honor them for that and not obsess about the unanswered questions. It’s just not that remarkable not to know everything about the circumstances under which someone left military service.

  4. Doug Ross

    Doesn’t the fact that Greene was asked to leave TWO branches of the military and refuses to say why or give permission to the military to say why mean something?

    Just started a well-reviewed new book, “Matterhorn”, a novel about Vietnam by Karl Marlantes “a graduate of Yale University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, who served as a Marine in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten air medals.”

    First couple chapters have been very good.

  5. bud

    To borrow from one of Brad’s comments a few posts back: MY GOD! George W. Bush’s service record is just about the most disgusting examples of dishonoring the uniform of anything I’ve ever seen. He received preferential treatment to get in. He failed to get a MANDATORY physical when he grew tired of flying. Then he didn’t show up in Alabama for duty. Finally he left early to go to graduate school. Absolutely dispacable and disgusting behavior and should have disqualified him for the presidency. The only example of cowardice that comes close is his own vice president, Mr. Five Deferments Cheney. And these were the two men who sent our young men and women to a war based on lies to kill and be killed. Those two belong in jail not in their cushy homes enjoying a taxpayer funded pensions.

  6. bud

    Doug’s right on this. The Greene dismissal from the army seems pretty shady. I’m a bit surprised at the lengths people are going to defend him. To be fair Brad has had some pretty harsh things to say about him but others have been far more lenient. Hopefully there will be a third party candidate to vote for. Otherwise I’ll have to pass on the race.

  7. The 7-10: Anthony Palmer

    People have told me they voted for Alvin Greene because his was the first name on the ballot. I understand favorable name placement can help some candidates, but I don’t see how that could lead someone to win 60% of the vote in a primary. South Carolina Democrats must be REALLY low-information voters. The real loser in this is Vic Rawl who made the crucial mistake of looking past the next election.

    Campaigns matter.

  8. Michael Rodgers

    Here’s a great sentence from Kathleen Parker in an editorial in The State:

    ” At a time when “ordinary” is the new cool — and know-nothingness a badge of honor — Greene is a man in full. “

  9. kc

    Greene is just a regular guy, quite representative of us common South Carolinians

    Really? I’d like to think most of us don’t hang around college libraries surfing for porn and then showing it to unsuspecting co-eds.

    Btw, I see that Kathleen Parker had a column saying much the same thing (I didn’t read the entire column, ’cause I didn’t have a barf bag handy). Is this the new journalistic conventional wisdom?

  10. Kathryn Fenner

    @ Doug–Alvin got a degree from USC because
    1. whatever is wrong with him didn’t happen until later.
    2. he has intelligence that shows in academic settings but not in “real life”–I know a lot of people like that–well, they aren’t running for national office, but…
    3. he knew how to game the system–like he figured out how to get a free lawyer and to file for the Senate race–he’s not an imbecile…


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