The Buzz: A sometimes irreverent look at S.C. politics

September 9, 2012 

A sometimes irreverent look at S.C. politics

(Not for) four more years!

The only legitimate reason – that Buzz can think of – for having the national political conventions is to put a national spotlight on future candidates, a la then-state senator and now President Barack Obama who first spoke to the Democratic convention in 2004.

Which made the Democratic convention last week odd.

Regardless of who wins in November, Democrats will be looking for a new nominee in 2016. And the name at the top of most lists wasn’t even in Charlotte. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in China.

(Aren’t we all tired of the Clintons? Judging from Wednesday night’s reaction to hubby Bill, no.)

Until Hillary Clinton, who will be 69 in 2016, announces her intentions, the Democratic race is in limbo, most agree.

Just ask S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick “Foot-in-Mouth” Harpootlian. “I was for Barack in 2008, and I’ll wait on her,” Harpo told Politico. “The only buzz I hear is Hillary.”

Mini-buzzes surround Vice President Joe Biden, unrelated to Harpootlian despite their shared verbal-gaffe affliction; Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and U.S. Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Both O’Malley and Klobuchar addressed the S.C. delegation last week, doubtless with their eyes on 2016.

Strangely low profile? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Oh, and then there is that former Alaska governor, right?

Compared with the Democrats, the GOP has an embarrassment of riches in its possible candidates for 2016, should Mitt Romney lose in November.

There’s U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the party’s nominee for vice president, who will be old enough to drive by 2016; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who may have recovered from his keynote speech by then (if not his moderate politics); and the party’s latest heartthrob – U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or Texas Gov. Rick Perry also could emerge from the recycle bin. (The GOP loves to crown the guy who came in second the last election cycle. See: Romney, John McCain, George H.W. Bush and even the vaunted Ronald Reagan.)

Then, there are Ryan’s fellow “young guns” – Govs. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Bobby Jindal of Lousiana, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Need more? Try U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Tex Cruz, the GOP nominee for the Senate in Texas.

‘I don’t want anything’ – really?

Haley dazzled the press in Tampa, while pouring cold water on her ambitions at the same time.

“People (at conventions) are too quick to say, ‘She should run for national office. She would be great,’ ” she said. “The reality of it is, when I endorsed Gov. Romney, I said I don’t want anything. Sometimes people throw out names ... way too quickly and they don’t realize that some of us just want to move at our own pace and some of us like just where we are.”

Haley is 40, meaning she could run for the GOP nomination in 2038 and be younger than Hillary Clinton in 2016.

‘I will treat you with respect’ – promise?

Or she could lose her 2014 re-election bid and vanish from the national screen.

Democratic State Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden was ever-present in Charlotte, protesting he has not yet decided whether he will run against Haley again, having lost narrowly – 51-47 – to the Lexington Republican in solidly red South Carolina in 2010.

Sheheen panned Haley, for among other things, being more interested in national issues than state matters. He also offered etiquette advice to Haley about her refusal last month to answer questions from State reporter Gina Smith.

“I might not want to answer your question, but I will treat you with respect,” Sheheen said in response to a question. “I don’t think I would say to anybody ... ‘I’m not going to talk to you.’ ”

(And, no, the question to Sheheen did not come from Smith. Having covered the GOP convention in Tampa, she was not in Charlotte.)

House rules: No snoozing ... or – wake up, Dick! – Third Reich references

Organizing 62 delegates at a national convention can be a delicate task. They need to get credentials. They need party tickets. They need to get from the hotel to the convention site – usually twice in a day.

And they need a place to sit in the arena.

The seating section for delegates at both conventions was assigned by the national parties but, with all that coming and going during a lengthy day of speeches, delegates still can get a bit cranky if they lose their preferred seat.

To make sure everyone played nice in Charlotte, the S.C. Democratic Party placed delegate’s names on seats at the Time Warner Arena Tuesday and Wednesday. (It was first-come-first-served on Thursday.)

Other advice to the delegates? “If you feel like you are on TV, you are,” one Virginia party official warned that state’s delegates. “Think when you scratch and itch.”

And there was a cautionary tale: A C-SPAN camera caught one sleeping delegate from an undisclosed state as the gavel sounded Wednesday – and came back to her when she started waking up.

Is that anyway to talk about a fellow Sandlapper?

Buzz likes state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort. True, his right-right-wing libertarian politics may send some – OK, most – in the state Senate into eye-rolling fits, but Davis can be a pleasant enough fellow.

Still, Buzz thinks he needs to cut back on the red meat. And coffee.

Consider some of Davis’s comments about Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who grew up in Dillon, at a Ron Paul rally just before the GOP convention.

“In the last three years, the Federal Reserve has tripled our monetary base,” Davis told the rally. “At some point in time ... the house of cards will fall, and the chickens will come home to roost. Ben Bernanke is a traitor, a dictator – he’s rotting out our republic.”

Asked about his oratorical orbit afterward by the The (Hilton Head) Island Packet, Davis said his comments were intended as a metaphor for the lack of checks and balances on the Federal Reserve. Davis said he chose “provocative language” to illustrate the scope of the problem.

Try some fish and veggies, Tom. And, definitely, go de-caf.

Definitely.

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