Monday, December 17, 2012

GOP Appoints Black Man To US Senate. History Or Window-Dressing?!?

I'm sure I'm supposed to trumpet this nomination as historical and ground-breaking. And in a way, it is, as the GOP now has a black Senator, something the Democrats cannot (presently) say.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will tap Rep. Tim Scott to replace outgoing GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, making Scott the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction.

The Associated Press has confirmed the Scott appointment, which will be formally announced by Haley at a news conference Monday at the Statehouse in South Carolina.

DeMint, an influential conservative and Tea Party favorite, will resign in January to become president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank. His replacement will serve until a special election is held in 2014.

"This is historic for all of the South," said David Woodard, a political scientist at Clemson University. Tim Scott is "conservative and he's Republican. ... What African Americans need are capitalism and conservative values, and Tim Scott is a great vehicle for that. He represents a generation that is interested in entrepreneurship, conservative principles and volunteerism."

Scott, 47, was elected in 2010 to represent a U.S. House district in the Charleston area. A former member of the South Carolina state Legislature, Scott quickly became a favorite of House Speaker John Boehner and GOP officials in Washington and served in a leadership position for the 2010 freshman class.

He has a compelling life story, according to his biography in the Almanac of American Politics. Scott and his siblings were raised by a single mother who worked as a nurse's assistant. By his own account, Scott was on the brink of flunking out of high school when the owner of a Chick-fil-A franchise took him under his wing. He later earned a partial football scholarship to college, and ran an insurance company and owned part of a real-estate agency before entering politics

Woodard noted that Scott is popular and well-liked and has the support of his fellow members of Congress from South Carolina, which would give him an edge if he runs statewide for the Senate seat, as expected. The five GOP House members from South Carolina are very close, and they stuck together during a high-profile vote last year against Boehner's bill to reduce the deficit.

There have only been six blacks who have served in the U.S. Senate, according to the Senate website. They are Hiram Revels of Mississippi, who served in 1870; Blanche Bruce of Mississippi from 1875 to 1881; Edward Brooke of Massachusetts from 1967 to 1979; Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois from 1993 to 1999; Barack Obama of Illinois from 2005 until he resigned in 2008 after his presidential election; and Roland Burris, who was appointed to replace Obama and served until November 2010.
I don't personally think Scott's going to have an easy time getting re-elected, but that's just me. I don't know the mentality of South Carolina Republican voters, and don't care to hypothesize[1] any further.

Scott has been fairly lowkey in his only term in Congress, refraining from making any really stupid comments, save that one about not joining the CBC. His views are in lock-step with the Tea Party (of whom he's a favorite) but if he plays it down the center (again, not saying anything really stupid) I suspect he could even pull some share of the black vote if he escapes the GOP primary. Not necessarily because he's black, but because he's black and seems to be relatively sane. The key word here is "appears". Who knows what sorta foolishness he might spout when in the midst of the GOP nomination race?

That said, escaping with the GOP nod will be no small feat. I suspect we're gonna find out a lot of unsavory things about the otherwise spotless, never married, 47-year-old bachelor in the coming months. Some of Scott's "friends" who wanted that seat for themselves will be gunning for him. It will prolly get ugly, and ugly fast.

Enjoy it while you can, Tim. And watch your back.

Your reign on the top may be short like leprechauns.

Question: Is this a truly historic event or is Scott merely a placeholder for the 2014 GOP contest?

[1] True (unrelated) story: my 4 year old's favorite word right now is "hypothesis". He uses it to describe his "theory" on everything, even dinosaur teeth. That's my boy.

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