If you’re not located anywhere near South Carolina’s “lowcountry” you probably won’t happen by the Courvoisie (named for a Citadel grad, not the cognac) Banquet Hall on the Citadel campus tonight to witness the one and only packed to capacity debate between 1st District Congressional candidates, Democrat (and Working Families Party ballot presence) and/or an “I don’t follow any party line” Independent as she claims in one of her TV commercials. Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Republican, Mark “Don’t cry for me Argentina” Sanford. Unless you happen to tune in to C-Span’s Public Affairs channel or visit the Patch.com streaming of the event or listen to an affiliate of the South Carolina Radio Network, you’ll miss the live broadcast.
A few quick words about the participants. Mark Sanford has a degree in BizAd. He dabbled in Real Estate for a couple of years (still does some investing) before winning a seat in Congress as the Representative of South Carolina District 1. He stayed 3 terms and managed to win every “most conservative” award the right-wing think tanks could dredge up. Then it was on to the Governor’s office in his home state for 2 terms. As Governor, he showed a propensity for: infidelity, lies, slashing of services and repeated ethical shortcomings and guided the state to at least bottom 5 national positions in quality of life, education, health and a host of other categories, for which the right-wing continued to hand out awards. He also refused federal stimulus money until the State Supreme Court shoved it down his throat.
His opposite is Elizabeth Colbert Busch. She’s 58, 6 years Sanford’s senior and this is her first foray into politics. She’s currently Director of Business Development at the Restoration Institute at Clemson University. The Institute most especially addresses wind turbine, water and renewable energy issues. Prior to assuming that post, she spent 25 years as a businesswoman in international shipping. She returned to college as a single mother of 3 children to earn her degree at the College of Charleston. Like Sanford she’s divorced. Unlike Sanford, Colbert Busch is currently married. She comes from a family of 11 children, one of whom happens to be the puckish comedy channel pundit, Stephen Colbert. She’s pro-choice and for same sex marriage. I suspect the local panel will get to those issues.
It’s against this backdrop and the fact the district hasn’t elected a Democratic Representative in 30 years that tonight’s debate can put into context. Know one thing above all other, both candidates kiss Boeing’s ring. Neither dared utter a negative syllable about arguably the most fined corporation on the planet. So you know there will be no hint of pro-unionism or higher minimum wage and incentives will be there for the asking. Boeing adores Sanford as indicated in their political contributions: all Sanford, all the time.
The debate will begin at 7 PM sharp and last for an hour and fifteen minutes, a consequence of the inclusion of Green Party candidate Eugene Platt. His contribution will most likely be embarrassing one or both of the main candidates (think Ron Paul).
The Charleston area League of Women voters interviewed all three candidates and posted their video responses on their Website. It’s an instructive exercise to watch a poised and informed Colbert Busch respond in a crisp and intelligent manner in answering 3 key questions after giving an opening statement. Sanford seemed to stumble on his words and never quite got comfortable in front of the camera. If appearances mean anything for tonight’s debate, put your money on Colbert Busch. Here is a compressed and paraphrased version of Colbert Busch’s responses.
Busch opened her segment by emphasizing her business background and her cooperative work with both political parties (she needs to pick off a few Republicans). She said a 21st century economy needs to focus on fiscal responsibility, educating our children and paying attention to infrastructure needed to grow business “in our district.”
After her two-minute opening statement, she was asked 3 questions by an off-camera moderator. 1. Please provide 2 or 3 recommendations you have for restructuring Medicare and social security. Colbert Busch, who likes to keep things orderly, had these answers. 1. I do not believe in a voucher system and I do not believe in dismantling social security. (Phew!). 2. Before change we must address costs and spending. We do that in 3 ways. Addressing Medicare waste, fraud, overbilling and pharmaceutical negotiations. Reforming these factors alone represents saving twice the sequester or $166 billion.
Question 2: How specifically would you use your office to attract jobs to South Carolina?
Response: I would evaluate the district’s assets. We need to market, sell and let people know we’re here. Industry, education and research must come together. We will push technology, science, engineering and math as components of that research. “We need to tell the world just how unique we are and that’s what we’ll do.”
Here’s the third question: Please explain why you do or do not support the Environmental Protection Agencies efforts to enforce strong clean air and clean water standards in America. Response: “Nobody likes dirty water and nobody likes dirty air.” Colbert Busch talked about needing healthy land, water and air so that we have a healthy life. She added that the quality of life and our natural resources are our greatest assets and that’s what brings industry, tourism and development to our state. “I will work with the EPA to come up with solutions so that industry and environment can work together.” She talked movingly about her father. “My father was a doctor who taught me everyday by example that life was about selflessness; taking care of each other and serving each other. It is an example so great that today his name is on MUSC’s (Medical University of South Carolina) School of Education.”
She closed with, “On May 7th I ask you to vote for me.” She vowed to make voters proud of their country and assured them that “you will never have to apologize or explain why you sent me to Washington.” She was optimistic about jobs and growth. “I’m ready to go to Washington for you. Our problems can be solved. Not by further divide but by working together and to get our work done strengthens us.
Thank you and God bless you.”
You’ve heard all of Sanford’s political carrion before so I won’t bore you with his predictable answers. He’s the Punk Rocker of politics, except, unlike Iggy Pop, you never know his truth. Sanford’s greatest emphasis was on Boeing and how buddy, buddy he is with top management. I’ll admit, they’re a match made in Heaven.
This debate and subsequent May 7th election has huge implications for the return to reason and normalcy in Congress. A Colbert Busch win would wake up distressed Democrats to the fact that congressional and state contests can be won no matter what the radicals do with redistricting and voter repression.
Gimmie a ‘C’ gimmie an ‘O’ gimmie an ‘L’…!