Monday, January 04, 2010

Could South Carolina's Political Circus Get Any Messier? Henry Brown Announced His Retirement Today


Guess which one drives a pickup truck

Political observers may be startled to watch the race for the bottom going on among Republicans in the campaign for the open Kentucky Senate seat, where the bloodless Establishment hack Trey Grayson-- handpicked by party boss Mitch "Miss" McConnell-- has been challenged from the right by the libertarian-oriented/teabagger-coddling Rand Paul, only to see a lunatic fringe candidate even further to the right, Bill Johnson, come into the race as the "true conservative" (which these days means racist, bigoted, neo-fascist America hater). Kentucky, however, is hardly an exception in Republican Party politics this year. And it goes beyond Tennessee too.

Let's look at the dynamics behind Rep. Henry Brown's announcement of his retirement this morning. Even while chickenhawk South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint ducks a national security debate challenge from Eric Massa and starts praising Obama as he fearfully backs off his virulent pro-terrorist ravings, Brown, the oldest member of the South Carolina congressional delegation, has called it quits on his faltering political career. He was nearly beaten (52-48%) in 2008 by an openly gay, openly progressive Democrat, Linda Ketner, and this year 3 Democrats-- Dick Withington, retired Air Force Col. Robert Burton, and Robert Dobbs-- were already vying for the opportunity to finish him off. But it wasn't Democrats that made Brown throw in the towel.

He already had 4 Republican challengers jumping into a primary battle against him, each one further right than him-- and further right than Attila the Hun. Brown is a solid, dull conservative Republican whose latest bill was to "save" Christmas, was facing formidable challenges from Carroll "Tumpy" Campbell III (a son of a popular ex-governor), Mark Fava, Ryan Buckhannon, and Confederate teabagger goddess, Katherine Jenerette (AKA, "The Sarah Palin of the South"). Brown likes to brag that his voting record is the furthest right of any South Carolina congressman-- and 5 points further right than Joe "Liar!" Wilson's. Progressive Punch shows his lifetime voting record tied with Eric Cantor and Adam Putnam way at the bottom of the GOP barrel, tucked neatly between Michele Bachmann's and Virginia Foxx's-- a horrifying 0.86! But to wingnuts-on-the-rampage voting like a loon isn't enough. Sure, Brown voted against body scan machines but is he actively trying to shoot down American passenger planes-- which is what the teabaggers will soon be demanding as proof that their reps are anti-Obama enough to pass the right-wing purity test!

But worse than any of this-- even worse than the nightmare of having to campaign against the Confederate Sarah Palin-- is the likelihood that Strom Thurmond's legitimate white son, Paul-- not any of the offspring he had with his African-American mistresses-- is going to run. Most Americans who remember Strom Thurmond remember his as a venal and vicious racist who helped engineer the Republicanization of the former slave-holding states. He's loathed across America as the man who engineered the presidency of Richard Nixon. But in South Carolina, many people still revere him. And his son is very popular. If he does run-- which is likely-- he and Carroll III could well knock each other out of the race and let the Confederate Palin slip in, a true voice for teabaggery. Get the popcorn ready-- cause there's going to plenty more of this:

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