First, an apology: I realize it’s unfair to single out this one thing that Gresham Barrett said in his interview with The State. There was a lot of other information in the piece, and I learned things about him I hadn’t known — or had forgotten. I recommend that anyone who plans to vote in next Tuesday’s runoff and is undecided read it.
But I tend to zero in on telling details, and this one really struck me — not for what it says about Gresham Barrett, but for what it tells us about what’s going on in the Tea Party-besieged GOP:
Barrett said he’s been on the receiving end of more attacks, including a Haley TV ad, than any other Republican gubernatorial candidates “My record over the last several months has been distorted. I am not a liberal. I am not a moderate. … Unfortunately, a lot of people have disagreed with my TARP vote and can’t get over it. There’s nothing I can do about that. It is what it is.”
Let’s hear that again:
“I am not a moderate.”
God forbid he should be seen as anything but an extremist. Obviously, he (like pretty much all the Republicans this year) believes that would be political death. Which reminds us why I simply could not see endorsing, or voting for, any of the GOP gubernatorial hopefuls this year — which is a real departure for me.
Now, to highlight some of the good stuff I learned about him from the piece: He remains unafraid to differentiate himself from Mark Sanford, at least in small ways. I knew that he did not hesitate to criticize him in the past. But this year, Republicans all seem to be doing a calculation that goes like this: What’s going on? The voters — at least MY voters, who are usually sensible conservatives — all seem to have lost their minds this year! How can I stay on their good side? What’s my guide? Oh, yeah — Mark Sanford! HIS ideas are totally nuts… since the voters have gone nuts, maybe they’d like it if I act like HIM… and so forth. But Gresham Barrett is saying no to that, at least to some extent.
And that means voters (or at least, those who did not vote in the Democratic primary) have an actual choice next Tuesday. Not that he has a chance, but at least they do have a choice, between an actual conservative Republican, and a Sanfordista who talks about being a conservative (and not so much a Republican).