A Gov. McConnell might be a GOOD thing for SC

Now I’m going to get WAY out ahead of events, and do some real blue-sky speculating.

Glenn McConnell is now, to his great chagrin, our lieutenant governor. That means two things:

  1. He’s had to give up arguably the most powerful position in our government.
  2. If the governor leaves office precipitously, he will be our governor.

Several people have already speculated that, knowing Nikki Haley as we do, they would not be surprised if she suddenly left office, and not in the way she may fantasize about doing. What might be the final straw for her? I have no idea. But after the stuff we’ve seen around here the last few years, I’m not sure anything would surprise me any more. None of us who knew him thought Mark Sanford would be off in Argentina cheating on his wife. (Although, of course, he weathered that.)

Some have even speculated that McConnell is privy to information that could lead to such an eventuality. I don’t believe that.

But let’s just say it did happen. And it wouldn’t have to involve scandal. Say, for instance, Jim Demint were named Romney’s running mate (shudder) and she appointed herself in his place.

Then, we’d have a Gov. Glenn McConnell. Which is something I have never had cause to contemplate before. I couldn’t imagine him ever lowering himself (by his lights) to seek the office. But now we have at least the possibility that at some point it could drop into his lap.

So I’m thinking about it.

And what I’m thinking is that it could turn out to be a positive thing for South Carolina.

Oh, he’d often be pretty maddening, because of his ideological idiosyncrasies. But he would take the job of governing well seriously — just as he has always taken the job of senator — and would have a better idea of what that means than anyone who has held the office since Carroll Campbell, or even Dick Riley.

The last person even to run for governor who had as clear an understanding of how government works in South Carolina was when Joe Riley ran in 1994. Of course, Joe would have been a wonderful governor, far better than McConnell, because he also has a deep understanding of the state’s needs, and no ideological objections to using the power of government to address them. And for that matter, knowledge of the system isn’t everything. Take Vincent Sheheen. Vincent has more understanding of the system than most senators (which is why he has been a thoughtful reformer), just not as much (I think) as McConnell. But Vincent would be far more interested in using the bully pulpit of the governor to help our state catch up to the rest of the country economically and in other ways.

But while McConnell would be more reactive, and much more parsimonious in the exercise of power, when he did act, it would be with a sense of responsibility and wisdom, which are things that have been in short supply in that office.

You may not realize that about him. People tend to caricature him as the guy who likes to dress up and play war, and spend money on Hunley.

But while I’ve given him grief over the years for resisting reform (at least, when it involves empowering the executive branch), I know that he has been a significant reformer in his own right. He is responsible for tremendous improvements, for instance, in our judicial selection process, making it much more merit-based. It’s not the reform that I would want — I want the governor to appoint, and the senate confirm, making the political branches co-equal partners in shaping the third branch. But as a defender of the legislative prerogative, he nevertheless saw the need to inject merit into the system, and reduce the influence of mere political popularity and horse-trading. He succeeded in doing that, which was a considerable achievement, and we reap the benefits today.

I think he would do things like that as governor. He wouldn’t want to change things, but when he saw the need for action, he would act to the best of his ability.

And the best of his ability, as the most skilled parliamentarian of his generation, would greatly exceed the skill we’ve seen in such a position in many a year. Once he made up his mind to reform something, it would flat get reformed.

Sometimes — perhaps all of the time — in politics, the best candidate for an office is the person who would never, ever seek it. In a Gov. McConnell, were such to come about, we just might see the truth in that.

17 thoughts on “A Gov. McConnell might be a GOOD thing for SC

  1. `Kathryn Fenner

    He has some silly hobbies, as do many of us, and he got the state to help pay for one–the Hunley–which wouldn’t be so bad if the state funded all the other more important things first, but a relative sideshow in the scheme of things. He is definitely a Republican conservative, but who else are we likely to get as Governor? Pragmatically, he’s probably as good as we can get, and he is far more pragmatic than say, DeMint, and far smarter than Nikki. Romney tapping DeMint–would not be a stupid move, except Romney/DeMint is not likely a winner, so we wouldn’t get rid of DeMint, alas. …..

  2. Jackie Perrone

    Glenn McConnell might be just the guy who could find something useful to do in the Lt. Gov. office. I don’t see him sitting in his robes watching everyone else at work. And who knows, is it possible he could be a good influence on Nikki? He seems committed to serving out this term and it may very well mean good things for S.C.

  3. Juan Caruso

    Very convenient assumptions by two people (Brad, the journalist at heart and KF, the lawyer indeed) who for professional reasons worship lawyers in political roles.

    So, let me ask the obvious question: why are you so easily discounting another, possible contender, Henry Dargan McMaster?

  4. martin

    Can’t think of anyone I have so little in common with politically, but he has demonstrated that he cares about the state, knows what to do and how to do it and is not just looking for the best paying job he can get with the flimsiest resume.

    Kathryn, I keep hanging on to the dream that Nikki will be indicted for something sometime. Look how long it took them to do anything with Ard. Nikki’s much more interesting and has had so much more come out on an ongoing basis since the primary. It may take longer with her, but she will be gone. I think with Ard out of the way, that day may be closer.

    I’ve all for Gov. McConnell.

  5. Silence

    @ Kathryn – My silly hobbies don’t involve dressing up like a confederate officer, or cost the taxpayers (much) money.
    He’s a big-government, social conservative, of which we have too many in SC to begin with. He may be a pragmatist, but at least with DeMint you’d know where you stand. Smarter than Nikki, that seems true enough. You aren’t likely to be rid of DeMint anytime soon, we like to have Senators for life in this state.
    I personally rank McConnell right up there with Jakie Knotts, which is to say, not very high. I also don’t trust either of them, and wouldn’t vote for them to be dogcatcher in Eastover.

  6. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Juan– Why the heck do you assume that I “for professional reasons worship lawyers in political roles”? What “professional reasons” could I, an uppity housewife, possibly have?

    I do believe, having received a high quality law education, and worked with many lawyers, many of whom I loathed (see above), that lawyers are particularly well-equipped to comprehend the law and implement good ones. Historians, political scientists journalists also can be excellent.

    I go to a medical expert for my medical needs, an automotive expert for my automotive needs–why wouldn’t someone trained in the law be better at it?

  7. Ralph Hightower

    That’s the rumor that I read on FITSNEWS, that McConnell would step into the role of Governor without an election, much like Jerry Ford managed to become President.

    FITSNEWS reported earlier that the father of SC Governot Nikki Haley received a “notice of investigation” from the FBI regarding the finances of the Sikh Temple. SC Governot Nikki Haley is the accountant for the temple’s finances.

    I am hoping that SC Governot Nikki Haley does a “Sarah Palin” and quits during her term, “Gosh! Governoring is hard work!” Either her quitting or leaving due to criminal indictment is fine with me.

  8. `Kathryn Fenner

    Yeah, one can read an awful lot in FITSNews. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day….why won’t he substantiate *his* personal claims about Haley, for one?

    I have heard the Sikh story from two separate people several weeks ago, though.

  9. Karen McLeod

    Kathryn, wouldn’t it be more likely to be a Santorum/DeMint ticket (enough to strike fear in anyone’s heart!).

  10. Juan Caruso

    “Why the heck do you assume that I ‘for professional reasons worship lawyers in political roles’?” – Kathryn Fenner

    Obviously because the only (would-be or current) state-level politicians you could both vote for and have expressed your support for on Brad’s blog (like Brad, may I add) have all been lawyers over the past year to 18 months.

    Please, link any single quote of yours (from this blog) that proves an exception, and I will gladly stand corrected.

    As to motive, lawyers network in one of the most vast and powerful cartels imaginable (few ever do imagine it), the Lawyer-Political complex. http://vigilisa.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html

  11. `Kathryn Fenner

    But Juan, why “for professional reasons”? What could I, a housewife, possibly have to gain “professionally”–and I have voluntarily left the “cartel.” Did you actually read what I just posted? I readily admit to supporting lawyers, for the reasons I stated. I simply do not understand what I might get out of it “professionally.”

  12. Kathy

    Dare we even hope that Nik might finally be indicted before much longer? We might have a REAL governor after all these years. I almost forgot we ever had one, a real governor, I mean. I’m excited! It really could be a great day in South Carolina, y’all.

  13. Steve Gordy

    Latest communique from Juan: Kathryn, you worship lawyers.

    Kathryn: I don’t.

    Juan: Prove you don’t.

    This is the Republican idea of an airtight argument. Once the accusation is made, it MUST be disproven.

  14. Steven Davis II

    Is it true that McConnell got out of serving in Vietnam because his doctor said he was allergic to bee stings?

    Makes you wonder how he made it all the way to General in the Confederate forces.

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