Brad Hutto’s new TV ad

Here’s the TV ad Democratic SC Sen. Brad Hutto just released. Two quick thoughts:

  1. From start to finish, it’s nothing but empty populist sentiments of the “Them ol’ politicians don’t know nothin’, and should stay out of Washington and spend their time settin’ ’round the kitchen table listenin’ to regular folks” variety. The thrust is to complain that we have a smart, energetic senator whose opinions are sought out and respected in Washington. What a terrible state of affairs, eh?
  2. I’d like to hear the thoughts of people contributing to this campaign, in terms of what they think they’re buying, and what they hope to accomplish. Is this nothing more than a throw of the dice based on the belief that Thomas Ravenel, running as an independent, could create a situation in which the math works for a Democrat?


47 thoughts on “Brad Hutto’s new TV ad

  1. Mike F.

    The assumption is that Lindsey could lose the GOP primary runoff and that the Democrats need to field a reasonable alternative in any Senate race.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Not that I am a contributor, but yes, the Dems are not going to just give up and cede every race outside Columbia and Charleston to the GOP. Not,in a state that is only on the red side of purple.

      1. Barry

        Lindsey Graham will probably get almost as many democratic votes as would a Brad Hutto ( a guy no one in the upstate of South Carolina has ever heard of).

        A lot of moderates on both sides of the political spectrum contribute to Lindsey and have for a long time.

  2. Phillip

    I didn’t know about Ravenel running but more plausible than Lindsey losing the primary is a TPer running as an independent, splitting the GOP vote. And there is something to be said for at least running the flag up the pole so to speak, running a credible candidate and at least giving voice to the 40-45% of South Carolinians who see the world and our state a bit differently from the prevailing ideology. As I’ve said many times before, the lack of statewide or Congressional wins by the Democratic party does not mean the population is tilted quite as red as Wyoming or a number of other states where the GOP achieves even larger margins of victory. But if you don’t run credible candidates, you’re A) not positioning yourself for a time when demographics or other factors may turn the tide, and B) providing a clear message to GOP in power that they need only consider themselves to be governing 55-60% of the electorate.

    I don’t know much about Hutto, but I did read a month or so ago accounts of him giving it right back to a couple of those Upstate fundamentalist legislators in hearings (probably about the cuts over textbooks) , so that’s a plus in his column as far as I’m concerned.

    1. Barry

      Then maybe he needs to run for statewide office.

      But instead he’s wasting his time and money running for Senate- which I’m glad to see him to do – because nothing makes me happier than to see someone like Brad Hutto waste his money.

  3. Barry

    Brad is wasting his money – which I am glad to see him do.

    From standing in the way for way too long to make our DUI laws stronger

    or to his current stance – holding up a bill to stamp out what Turbeville, SC’s police force is doing with nailing people with $400 tickets for going over the speed limit less than 10mph (in violation of the uniform code) – Brad Hutto isn’t what South Carolina needs in any respect.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    To my friends who believe it’s important to have a Democrat step forward and show the flag (and welcome back, Phillip — long time no see):

    Even as much as I hate parties, I could go along with that if Hutto were stepping forward with a set of respectable ideas that aren’t getting voiced, offering us a competing set of views on important issues. (You know, the theoretical reasons why parties are valuable — to create a dynamic to test competing ideas.)

    But he’s not. This video is a distillation of much of what I can’t stand in politics. It’s very much in the anti-intellectual tradition that has done so much to drag down the quality of the deliberative process in this country, from Andy Jackson down to the present day.

    Just as I don’t elect state legislators to fix potholes on my street, I elect senators and congressional representatives to make laws and set policy for the NATION, not to spend all their time back in the state and district holding our hands and telling us how valuable OUR opinions are.

    I WANT a senator who is in demand on the talk shows, someone that the nation turns to to hear what he has to say on burning issues facing the NATION. That is good for South Carolina. More than that, I want a senator who can stand toe-to-toe with senators from across the nation and play a significant role in shaping laws and policy. I want someone fully prepared to take part in the deliberative process that, given the state of partisanship today, is too rare as it is.

    The LAST thing I want is someone who is not focused on the national debate, but spends all his time back in the state or district with his finger in the air. And that’s what Sen. Hutto is offering me here. It’s ALL he’s offering me here. There’s not an idea or a policy proposal in this ad, nothing but a promise to be a populist, and to forsake the debates in Washington. I find this absolutely appalling.

    The sheer emptiness, the vacuity of what he is offering here suggests that the ONLY reason for his candidacy — whether the reason is the perceived possibility that Graham could fail to win renomination, or that Ravenel could throw it to a Democrat — is to have a Democrat standing there to catch the office in case it should fall out of the tree.

    Not that a Democrat has anything to offer, because he’s not offering anything, other than populist resentment toward a senator who’s gotten too smart, too uppity, too fancy-schmancy for plain folk lahk us.

    In a tactical sense this reminds me so much of when Jim Manning ran against Mike Montgomery for Richland County Council in 2008. Mike Montgomery at that time was probably the smartest, most dedicated member of the council, working hard, full of ideas, focused on benefiting the whole county, not just his own district, and Manning offered nothing against that — other than the fact that he was a Democrat, and he felt like a Democrat could win that district, especially with Obama on the ballot. (I say nothing — he had ONE narrow issue: he was interested in furthering the redevelopment of Decker Boulevard. So let’s say next-to-nothing.) He didn’t have a set of ideas to compete with Montgomery’s. He didn’t offer any reasons why he’d be a better councilman. He just let that D do its work, and he won. Which was a big loss for the people of Richland County.

    This feels just like that, only on the national level. He’s not even offering a renewed Decker Boulevard. Although he’s implying that something like that would be what interested him, rather than that fancy, airy stuff they go on about in Washington…

    1. Barry

      His new twitter feed suggests he wants to jump in and fight the liberal fight for abortion and other hot button social issues in South Carolina.

      In other words- he isn’t real serious about this campaign.

  5. Phillip

    I understand the point that the Senate is a deliberative body dealing with national issues, and I’m not necessarily saying that Hutto is an ideal candidate. The problem Democrats face here is that Senate candidates often come from the Congressional ranks, or in some states sometimes from serving as Governor, and obviously the party doesn’t have many who have that on their resume, in the era of the post-civil-rights-movement-GOP-South. So now you’re looking at state legislators, perhaps independently wealthy businessmen, or a judge like Alex Sanders, or even a Libertarian masquerading as a Democrat like Conley in 2008. DeMint and Graham for example were both Congressmen before running for Senate, so they had established some record on national issues. So even finding a really plausible candidate for a Senate seat for example is going to be a challenge for the Democrats in this state for a while to come.

    It may not be completely fair to judge Hutto’s entire stance on all issues (including national ones) on the basis of one 30-second TV ad. But I will say that his website is pretty scanty on the details of his positions on those wider issues beyond South Carolina.

    As for the benefits to South Carolina of having somebody “in demand on the talk shows”—it cuts both ways; a lot of people around the nation see Lindsey Graham on TV and do not, believe me, think higher of South Carolina as a result. Well, at least he provides lots of fodder for Jon Stewart; one has to laugh sometimes, to keep from crying.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      South Carolina is not going to produce a senator that those folks will think reflects well on South Carolina. But he represents us in a way that I like, and appreciate.

      I don’t place a high value on the approval of people who would sneer at him.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Well, I’m sorry to hear that. Because he’s the best senator you’re likely to get in the foreseeable future.

          But I was thinking of the people in other parts of the country to whom Phillip referred…

    2. Doug Ross

      “a lot of people around the nation see Lindsey Graham on TV and do not, believe me, think higher of South Carolina as a result. ”

      Exactly.. he makes a good representation of the Southern neo-con stereotype… he’s our Jesse Jackson. A charicature from one end of the political spectrum.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No, he’s not our Jesse Jackson. Jesse Jackson is our Jesse Jackson. He’s from Greenville.

        And he doesn’t represent either end of the political spectrum. He’s a traditional sort of conservative who is quite comfortable working in the center, and across the center, which is why so many people who call themselves “conservative,” people who you might well say are from the “end of the spectrum,” hate him.

        1. Phillip

          The vast majority of the time, when Graham appears on TV or the Sunday news shows, he’s spouting off about global issues, issues of security, what America should be doing in various places in the world, how the world is more dangerous than ever, etc. These are the issues on which most people outside of South Carolina know him, and on this turf he IS most certainly “on one end of the spectrum.” In fact, if you give me a news story from the world, I could write Lindsey’s press release and be pretty close every time. He is extremely predictable on these issues, most recent example being his statement on the formation of the Palestinian unity government.

          If he spent more time on those news shows talking about immigration, or some of the other issues on which he has “worked in the center,” then I could say that perhaps his media ubiquitousness reflects well on South Carolina. But from what I can tell, in the national perception he’s a one-trick pony.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            “But from what I can tell, in the national perception he’s a one-trick pony.”

            I have to agree there. Graham is consistent on one thing – being an advocate for a more interventionist US military around the world. Some people like that, some don’t.

            Get him off foreign policy, and he’s suddenly a little less predictable.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            But see, Phillip that’s not an “end” of the spectrum. Nowadays the “ends” — the left and the people who call themselves the real conservatives, even though they are not that — are increasingly isolationist in tone, and very much opposed to a muscular foreign policy, particularly if force is involved.

            That’s where the “ends” are.

            Graham’s position is far closer to where the centrist consensus has been for my entire life, closer to the place where every president has more or less been, regardless of party. Bill Clinton was probably the least willing commander-in-chief (largely due to being elected at a time when Democrats were all buzzing about a “peace dividend,” ignoring the fact that a world no longer shaped by the Cold War was less stable, less predictable and more dangerous), and Tony Blair had to pull and drag him along on the Balkans, but even he wasn’t all that far off from the consensus.

            While people in his base only heard his opposition to our involvement in Iraq, when Obama first ran for president, I heard him speaking from that consensus. You can hear some of that in this video clip from our endorsement interview with him in January 2008. Go to 1:39 on the clip, and you’ll hear Mike Fitts, who just commented, asking what was always our first question to presidential candidates (before that, he was giving his opening remarks, which I always allowed to go on for some time before questions) — What is our proper role in the world, and how should we go about playing it? And the answer wasn’t that different from what Lindsey Graham or John McCain would say, or George W. Bush or his father or Ronald Reagan or JFK or LBJ (with the one difference that we were now the one superpower).

            That is, historically, the center — not one end or the other. And it’s why, early in his administration, you saw Obama consulting fairly closely with McCain and Graham on national security issues.

            1. Phillip

              If we (me, Doug Ross, Daniel Larison, Rand Paul, plus traditional progressives who are “conservative” about America’s proper role in the world) are out on one end, and you and Lindsey are in the supposed “center,” I’d love to know who it is that would be to the right of you and Lindsey in terms of enthusiasm for American interventionism. Who out there is saying that Lindsey is too cautious, too conservative about such things?

        2. Mike F.

          Of course, “comfortable in the center” is exactly who Lindsey Graham is insisting he is NOT in his own campaign messages. His message has been that he’s up there fighting against that wicked president and his middle-of-the-road healthcare reform.

          Center is a dirty word to Lindsey right now, and has been for 18 months or so.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Wait. You’re telling me that a politician is going to say one thing during an election campaign, and then afterwards, he’s going to do something else?

            Where is my fainting couch?

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Graham’s telling the truth. He’s just emphasizing the aspects that appeal to the portion of his base that might want to vote for the extremists opposing him.

            My moderate and liberal friends, this is the only way you get a senator whom you might regard as in any way reasonable. He has to be a conservative, which Graham is — he’s just a more traditional kind of conservative, as opposed to being one of these government-hating extremists.

            When all of your threat comes from the right, and you’re running for your political life, you emphasize the things that might make those people like you. Or at least, hate you a little less. Actually, it’s not “those people” — they’ll NEVER vote for him, when there’s an extreme alternative — it’s the people on the fence who might go that way. Those are the ones he has to keep on his side.

            1. Doug Ross

              “Emphasize” must have a different meaning than I know. I would use the word “exaggerate” or “grandstand”.

              If you don’t like what he says, just wait till after the primary. Then he will emphasize his liberal big government thoughts.

        1. Mark Stewart

          He sort of is. The Republican lead state legislature saw to it that Clyburn would get the safe, token Congressional seat that would take the pressure off the other six districts; keeping them reliably Republican and denying all SC citizens truly competitive (ie representative) districts.

          1. Barry

            Clyburn wouldn’t win in the upstate or really anywhere else except for maybe the city of Columbia or the city of Orangeburg.

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              Exactly, so why diss Brad Hutto for not having a more important office to jump from?

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              The last Democrat whose resume and strengths indicated readiness for prime time was Inez Tenenbaum.

              Since then, Democrats haven’t had anybody. And they’re not likely to soon. The Democratic Party is moribund, and has been for some time. As y’all say, there may be redder states, but this one is red enough that Democrats have long been below the threshold necessary to produce strong statewide candidates.

              It’s going to take some unusually charismatic Wunderkind whom we haven’t seen yet, someone who can rise above his or her lack of experience and grab the public imagination in a way that sweeps objections aside.

              That’s what happened with Nikki Haley. She had NO business presuming to run for governor; her life experiences had not prepared her for such responsibility. But she had the qualities that matched the moment, and swept right by the GOP’s stable of better-qualified people.

              The preferable thing would be someone with the chops to get elected who ALSO brought along some substance.

              Why can’t the Democrats produce someone like that? They did 40 years ago — Pug Ravenel. He rose like a rocket, but the Establishment was able to slam him down. Now, there’s no Establishment the way there was then.

            3. Brad Warthen Post author

              Or… as an alternative to the talented Wunderkind… Democrats could come up with a “been there, done that” person of accomplishment who is not currently holding public office.

              That’s what they tried with Alex Sanders, but he couldn’t beat Graham.

              So we look around, and you know who keeps popping up when I look around? Darla Moore. And she’d have the advantage of being able to self-finance.

              Trouble is, I see no indication that she has the slightest interest in subjecting herself to the hustling indignities of running for public office.

              Also, I don’t know that she’d run as a Democrat. It’s kind of the Eisenhower situation, pre-1952 — people wanted him to be president, but which party was he?

            4. Doug Ross

              “I’s going to take some unusually charismatic Wunderkind ”

              Or a black woman. Really, that’s the only hope the Democratic Party has in this state. Sheheen couldn’t flip enough votes four years ago against a candidate with no experience and a whole lot of baggage.

              Steve Benjamin would at least make it interesting… he’d work harder than Sheheen to win. I guarantee we’d see record turnout in that election.

            5. Brad Warthen Post author

              Kathryn, are you sure you’re not confusing Pug with Thomas?

              As I recall, Pug — former quarterback of the Harvard football team — won the Democratic nomination for governor in 1974, running a decidedly anti-establishment campaign, denouncing the State House as a “den of thieves.”

              After he won the nomination, the establishment struck back by claiming he didn’t satisfy the residency requirement. The Supreme Court agreed, and he was out.

              The Democrats met in a convention and replaced him on the ticket with William Jennings Bryan Dorn. The voters showed their displeasure by electing the first Republican since Reconstruction.

              He did later get into legal trouble, but that was financial rather than drugs…

            6. Brad Warthen Post author

              While I wasn’t here at the time, from everything I’ve heard, Pug was exactly the sort of energetic, charismatic Wunderkind that I’m talking about.

              The voters, especially young ones, loved him; the establishment wasn’t having it.

            7. Kathryn Fenner

              My best high school girlfriend’s stepfather was one of Pug’s people. They was a-snortin’ aplenty back then. Jimmy Carter people. The swinging seventies. Was it not Hamilton Jordan who got busted?

          2. Barry

            Kathryn Fenner June 4, 2014 at 11:59 am

            Exactly, so why diss Brad Hutto for not having a more important office to jump from?

            Because I ‘ve never liked Brad Hutto – mainly for his being a supporter of weaker Dui laws for many years

            so I like to rip him any chance I get.

  6. Lynn T

    Be sure to ask Hutto about his position on independent investigation of ethics complaints. He says his constituents don’t care about ethics.

      1. Lynn T

        What is abstract about independent investigation of ethics complaints? Around the State House people definitely know what it means, and some react as if it was poison. Certainly Cindi Scoppe doesn’t think it is an abstraction.

        1. Lynn T

          Sorry, I’m sure I initially missed the tone of voice, perchance a parody of Senator Hutto. One of those things that don’t necessarily come across immediately on blogs or email. Caught it as soon as I hit “post.”

          1. Barry

            Senator Hutto doesn’t want non lawyers or non legislators doing anything with ethics complaints. He’s comfortable thAt way.

            1. Barry

              Kathryn Fenner June 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm
              I think it’s just nonlegislators. The Attorney General is, um, an attorney

              I realize the obvious. Gee whiz – this isn’t middle school.

              We are talkig about Brad Hutto here. He’s a creature of the state senate.

              He isn’t keen on anyone doing anything about legislator ethics.

  7. Dave

    You stated that Lindsey Graham is smart. Where is the evidence of this? Graham is the politician who brags about getting a combined 800 on his SAT. Precisely the type of populist rhetoric you denounce.

    Graham was one of the biggest proponents of the Iraq War and to this day refuses to admit he was wrong. He argued recently that Putin invaded Crimea due to Benghazi. He has one of the worst track records of forecasting the future accurately of any politician on his many Sunday morning talk show appearances.

    Smart? You may think he’s smart but I can guarantee you that people outside of South Carolina don’t think he’s smart. He’s hardly another Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      The evidence is in every conversation I’ve ever had with him.

      I always hesitate to say this, because it makes me sound so impressed with myself, but Graham is one of the few politicians I’ve spent time with who regularly makes me think, “This guy’s smarter than I am.” Whether he is or not, he’s generally a step or two ahead of me because he is such a grind — he lives and breathes the stuff he’s talking about, and has a greater grasp of the details than I do.

      Oh, and there’s a reason he “refuses to admit he was wrong” about Iraq: He wasn’t wrong.

      And here we go…

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