“I’m the Democratic Party nominee. The people have spoken. The people of South Carolina have spoken. The people of South Carolina have spoken. We have to be pro-South Carolina. The people of South Carolina have spoken. We have to be pro-South Carolina.”
~ Alvin Green, South Carolina Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate
Think about the most inarticulate, mumbling, mushmouth you know. Maybe he’s jacking up your order at the Burger King drive-thru window or throwing the jar of spaghetti sauce on top of the loaf of bread as he sacks your groceries or he’s knocking on your door to sell you subscriptions to magazines you never heard of or offers to cut your grass for five dollars. Think how unlikely it is that guy would ever run for Congress.
Then you’ll understand why Alvin Greene has turned the political landscape on its collective ear.
Nobody knew who Greene was until he won the Democratic primary in South Carolina and the right to run against Republican incumbent Jim DeMint. After nearly a week of painfully inarticulate and seemingly clueless interviews, there are more questions than answers about where he came from and whether he’s a Trojan horse for Republican mischief-makers.
It wasn’t until he appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann the country got a good, long look at The Alvin Greene Show and when it was over, Republicans had to be crapping their pants in laughter while Democrats slid in their seats totally dumbstruck by what they had just seen.
If Greene didn’t come off like a poorly programmed robot when the camera light goes on he wouldn’t be such an object of morbid curiosity and sick humor. But he does act like he’s blown a gasket and I’m not the only one to reach that conclusion:
Todd Rutherford, another Democratic state representative who met with Greene today alongside Sellers, told TPMmuckraker, “Before I got to my third question, I could tell that something was awry,” adding, “I don’t know whether everything is OK.”
Rutherford, an attorney, said that if Greene were his client, he would move for a mental evaluation. “If there’s a joke he doesn’t get the joke. If someone paid him to do this, they certainly exploited someone who is vulnerable. It’s not even funny, it’s just sad.”
On election night, I was among the first reporters to speak with Greene after his victory was announced. His verbal tics and strange affect were immediately apparent: he frequently repeats and interrupts himself, speaks haltingly, and sometimes descends into incoherent rambling, as subsequent video and audio interviews have made all the more obvious. In his interview with Keith Olbermann on Thursday, he had great difficulty answering the most basic of questions, seeming to take cues from his attorney off-camera. There are still plenty of questions about his decision to run for Senate—perhaps less about any shadowy operatives than his own state of mind.
Greene says he looks forward to debating DeMint. That’s a spectacle that should be on prime time–if you enjoy watching a grown man being undressed and humiliated in public.
Maybe Greene is just somewhat overwhelmed by the rush of reporters clamoring for a soundbite. He is a pretty unique interview subject. Or maybe he’s enjoying his own little private joke and hasn’t shared it with the rest of us.
But I have my doubts this is an act. It looks and sounds and feels like some classic South Carolina political dickery to throw a monkey wrench into what’s left of the state Democratic Party. If the goal was to make them look like bumbling incompetents who can’t even offer up their own choice of sacrificial lamb against a powerful GOP incumbent, the mission was successful.
Greene says he wants to be the next U.S. Senator from South Carolina. If he can’t take the questioning from Olbermann (and Fox’s Shepard Smith whom was even more incredulous and skeptical in his questioning of Greene), he’s got no business running for elected office. He can’t “no comment” his way all the way to Washington and he’s got more immediate problems than the butt-whipping DeMint is going to lay on him in November.
Greene campaign coffers aren’t exactly overflowing with $114 in the bank, yet the unemployed ex-soldier who says he was involuntarily discharged because “it just wasn’t working out” was able to hand over a cashier’s check for $10,440 to the South Carolina Democratic Party to qualify to run for the nomination. He claims he saved the money for a few years. He is also facing felony obscenity charges for showing pornography to a young woman in a library. If Greene is indicted it would invalidate his candidacy per South Carolina law.
About his discharge Greene told Fox News, “It was an honorable discharge, but it was involuntary,” Greene said about his military service in the Army, “Things weren’t working out…it’s a long story.”
There’s plain-spoken and then there’s strange. More than how Alvin Green speaks is strange. Everything about homey is strange. Too strange just to sit back and applaud like a trained seal at the strange scenario of an ex-veteran who departed the military under murky circumstances, came out of nowhere to score an improbable victory with an unexplained source of funds and without the benefit of an active campaign, commercials, ads, a website, staff, contributions or apparently even giving a speech. Some people whom really should know better want to believe Alvin Greene has miraculously rewritten the laws of political gravity. They can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny too. I reserve the right not to believe in fairy tales.