A story in The State this morning touched on this, and yesterday I was debating with Cindi Scoppe about it. Count Cindi among those who don’t want Mark Sanford to resign because becoming governor now would give Andre Bauer a leg up on being elected governor in 2010.
Just for the sake of argument, count me among those who believe the opposite: That becoming governor now would put Andre under public scrutiny far more intense than he would experience as just one candidate among several for a few months next year.
You have to understand — the lieutenant governor of South Carolina is about as close to a non-entity as you get for a statewide elected official. That’s no reflection on Andre; it’s an observation about the job. It’s supposed to be part-time. Andre’s friends in the Senate gave him that Office on Aging gig just to make it look like he’s doing something.
There simply is no reason for the press or anyone else to pay much attention to the Gov Lite — which drove Nick Theodore nuts back in the day, because he craved attention so.
If Andre were suddenly elevated to governor, particularly after this one collapsed so spectacularly under the weight of scandal, the spotlight on him would be as intense as the noonday sun. And while I think he’s matured a good bit in recent years, and learned to present himself far more capably than in the early days — the impression he made on us at his endorsement interview in 2006 was as different from my previous encounters with him as the night is from the day — I just don’t think he’d hold up well under such examination.
In the past, Andre had to do something pretty spectacular for people to pay any attention to him. And he was irresponsible enough to oblige. To repeat a laundry list I posted in 2006:
Wednesday, 07 June 2006
What would YOU ask Andre?
Andre Bauer is coming in for his interview at 4. I’m reviewing a few questions for him between now and then. I’m curious: What would you ask a lieutenant governor who:
- When stopped speeding down Assembly Street, charged so aggressively at the cop that he felt threatened enough to draw his weapon?
- When driving 101 mph on a wet highway, got on the police radio frequency to tell the patrolman pursuing him that “SC2″ was “passing through,” and when he was stopped anyway, asked, “Did you not hear me on the radio?”
- Lying to reporters about that incident, then saying you “forgot” about it when confronted with the evidence?
- Showed up to negotiate with the Department of Transportation a price for land he owned — with a member of the transportation commission in tow?
- Has his own Myspace site?
- Seems almost certain to win the GOP nomination again?
But once he was governor, right away, all that stuff in his history would be re-examined, and a lot more import would be given to such shenanigans.
And every misstep going forward would be played and replayed with the same sort of focus as every stumble of poor old Gerald Ford.
By the time the 2010 campaign got into full swing, the other candidates would have an advantage just by virtue of not being Andre Bauer.
That’s what I think, anyway. What do you think?