Stephen Colbert is going to waste a million dollars in South Carolina today, but it isn’t his money.
Charleston, SC is full of Republican politics this morning. Morning Joe was broadcasting from the Barbados Room of the Mills House Hotel. The Daily Beast was shooting a web segment from Brents on Broad.
However the local buzz isn’t about the four man circular firing squad provoking a national examination of Romney’s marginal tax rate, Newt’s sex life, Santorum’s inability to escape the glitter flinging gay activists pursuing him or Ron Paul's quest for relevance in world where consistency and making some sense ought to score some points, even if you’re wrong.
Local boy made good Stephen Colbert is bringing his exploratory Presidential campaign to Charleston today and pulling in attention faster than the endless negative ads from superpacs saturating local television can generate it. He’s decided to hold a 1 pm rally at the College of Charleston with former candidate Herman Cain for the purpose of getting people to vote for Cain in lieu of himself, since he isn’t on the ballot.
Colbert is a hero to nearly everyone with intelligence in South Carolina. He grew up here and went on to become a national figure. He supports charitable efforts in the community. He says kind things about the state while he bashes our political leaders.
The relentless, negative tone of this primary contest repells even many Republicans. There is a dark, hopeless quality to much of the communication. The attacks on President Obama are endless, shallow and bitter.
Last night in Mount Pleasant a comfortably full Obama fundraiser turned out 100 democrats to watch the Republican debate. It wasn’t hard for the crowd to pick out the massive omissions finessed by the Republicans who promised to repeal Obamacare while refusing to say anything specific about what they would do for people with preexisting conditions or 24 year olds who now have insurance available. However on the screen the only answer was to cut taxes for the wealthy and tear down government. Outright lies were told, including the remarkable assertion that anyone who wanted could get medical care in 1960.
Lies are a wonderful political currency. They’re cheap to make. They work for a while. It is always far more time consuming to refute them than it was to invent them. When they wear out, you can lie some more.
The new politics is being tried out in SC this week. It’s a sorry, dysfunctional mess. Dogged protestors have been chasing the campaigns around the state. Santorum can’t escape the glitter throwers and now transgendered protestors are on his tail as well. The police push the demonstrators back and out from the events. As many of these campaign events, the crowds appearing have been very small. It doesn’t inspire love of the democratic process. The Republican component seems to be a campaign against hope and change. They appear to be embracing greed and cynicism.
There isn’t a complete paragraph of meaningful, fact based discussion about the future of the country to be found in South Carolina between the mountains and the sea.
So when Colbert dropped into town, surrounded by manipulation, negativity and deceit, he immediately began to draw huge amounts of media attention. Plans for his short rally exploded online. The Cameras spun around and he knows exactly how to keep them pointed at himself.
Cain won't win, but on a day when a million dollars is going to be spent on political advertising in this state, Colbert is certain to get more votes for Herman Cain than all of that noise stood any chance of moving from one candidates column to another's on Friday. It’s a huge waste and that is Colbert’s point.
Lots of Democrats are planning to vote Saturday, allegedly to sabotage the Republican nomination process. Their choices can be explained by a variety of theories but none of them involve any confidence in who they’re planning to vote for.
Money has strangled and distorted the system. If these four surviving candidates are the best the GOP has, the system deserves to be mocked and it will be. Why Herman Cain signed up for this, I can't tell. Maybe, as Rachael Maddow suggests, it more performance art.
An American struggling with a serious medical condition who now has insurance deserves something better than this as an answer to their needs. None of these surviving candidates will admit that. Real problems just don’t count.
So I’ll walk up to the college to laugh at them and drain away their attention. Herman Cain can’t be worse than the surviving four. They deserve it.