Amid all the hoo-hah over Nikki Haley and Gresham Barrett and Vincent Sheheen, and Converse Chellis losing his job and all that down-ballot stuff, it’s easy to forget to be thankful for something:
Andre Bauer is not going to be our governor.
You’re going to scoff, now, and say “How absurd; he was never going to be our governor!” And I say, how soon we forget.
Remember that last year, when we were all suffering Sanford fatigue and thinking how great it would be not to have to look at his long, morose face any more, mooning over his soulmate, we’d get to the point of talking about getting rid of him, and somebody would always say, “Hold on! No way! Then we’d be stuck with Andre.”
Now I thought that was wrongheaded. I thought the very best way to make sure that Andre would NOT be elected governor would be to make him our interim governor. I felt certain that the best way to inoculate ourselves against him was with a big dose of scrutiny. And to make him governor at a time when that office was under unprecedented close attention would guarantee he’d have no chance at the ballot box.
As things worked out, he got enough scrutiny for voters to say “No way.” But if he had been serving as governor, there would have been so much more. There would have been another “free-lunch school kids are like stray animals” moment practically every day.
To me, the secret to Andre’s success was that he had to do something extremely outrageous — such as driving over 100 miles per hour in his state car and evading a ticket by reminding the trooper who he was, or alarming a city cop so much by his wild behavior in broad daylight on Assembly Street to cause the cop to draw his weapon, or crashing an airplane — to draw attention. As governor, we’d be watching him more, and seeing more.
The reason knowledgeable folks were having these debates — would letting him be interim governor give him a better chance or worse chance? — was that we all knew something about Andre: No matter how dim you think his chances are, he always wins elections. He seemed like a weak House candidate — but he won. He seemed like he’d never make the senate — but he did. When he sought statewide office, no one worried — but he became lieutenant governor. And from the moment that happened, everybody knew what he would try for next. The “hardest-working man in SC politics,” as both friends and detractors styled him, would never quit before he had won the top job. This is the guy who came in second in the primary in 2002, but won the runoff. Then, the same thing happened in 2006, which we all thought meant the voters had enough of him — but he won the runoff AGAIN. You just could not count him out.
The idea he would become our governor, in keeping with this maddening illogic of inevitability, has been a worry nagging at the back of my mind for the past eight years. But now, none of us has to worry about that any more.
So thanks for that, Nikki Haley. And Jake Knotts. And Larry Marchant. And Chip Saltsman (remember? the “Barack the Magic Negro” guy). And all the unsung heroes who have played a role in making sure that we wouldn’t be saying “Governor Bauer” a year from now.
Now — once Nikki has dispensed with Gresham Barrett — we just have to ask ourselves one question: With Andre out of the way, which candidate — Nikki Haley or Vincent Sheheen — would be more likely to get us on “The Daily Show” the most? And then, we most vote for the other candidate.