Sunday, August 15, 2021

A Live Possibility


Keith Naughton, the co-founder of Silent Majority Strategies, is convinced that South Carolina senator Tim Scott, whom he lauds for "charisma and savvy," is a shoo-in for the GOP vice-presidential nomination n 2024.  However, in a column in The Hill, Naughton cautions

Scott’s main priority should be to stay out of the Trump orbit. Anyone who gets drawn into Trump-world inevitably is expected to toe the Trump line, whatever that is on any given day. Whether his various vendettas, impulsive endorsements or spurious election-theft complaints, Scott would be saddled with all the Trump baggage — and never treated as anything but a useful appendage by Trump.

Nevertheless, he argues "an (sic) popular minority candidate could be just the ticket to put a Republican over the top in 2024." Therefore

the vice president slot would be an easy score for Scott, provided he does not make the mistake of running for president. Unlike in the Democratic Party, where pushing aside the female minority Kamala Harris as the next presidential nominee would be politically impossible, Republicans have no such qualms. Nobody is going to step aside for Tim Scott. In addition, only once has a GOP nominee selected a former primary opponent for VP.

For Scott, the shrewd move would be to stay out of the presidential primaries and carefully position himself for the number two spot. Other than Scott, only Nikki Haley offers helpful identity politics credentials, but her criticisms of Trump, followed by pleading to get back in his good graces has damaged her significantly. That leaves Scott, by far, in the best position.

Naughton is on to something. Tim Scott is not likely to be the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2024, yet only because there are dozens of other prospects- governors, Senators, figures in private industry, even celebrities. The logical selection may be a woman, or an individual who has been a more vociferous, or by contrast less loyal, supporter of the former President. He (less likely, she) could be someone deemed more likely to help the ticket secure its base or instead deliver to the GOP a swing state's electors.  (Obviously, South Carolina is locked up for a Republican presidential candidate.)

Moreover, it's a long way to the 2024 Republican National Convention. Nonetheless, Tim Scott already checks an important, though generally overlooked, criteria for a Republican candidate.

He has positioned himself as a victim. In his rebuttal to President Biden's State of the Union address of April, 2021, the Senator claimed

I have experienced the pain of discrimination. I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason. To be followed around a store while I’m shopping. I remember, every morning, at the kitchen table, my grandfather would open the newspaper and read it — I thought. But later, I realized he had never learned to read it. He just wanted to set the right example.

I’ve also experienced a different kind of intolerance. I get called “Uncle Tom” and the n-word by progressives, by liberals. Just last week, a national newspaper suggested my family’s poverty was actually privilege because a relative owned land generations before my time.

The last statement is inaccurate, given that the subject of this charge responded by noting "not in any way did I ever suggest in the piece that Scott's great-grandfather lived a privileged life."  Still, Scott's attack was savvy.  As the 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon warned in a sentiment first expressed by Thomas Swift,  "It is well said in the old Proverb, ‘A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.’"

According to Scott, he has been "pulled over for no reason"- though to maintain support on the right, he excludes the phrase "by police."  He has been "followed around a store" while shopping. He is (frequently, by implication) "called 'Uncle Tom' and the n-word by progressives."

Have no pang of conscience, lost sleep, or doubt about American exceptionalism. Not to worry - Tim Scott is so sure that America is not racist that he asserts "Hear me clearly. America is not a racist country."

The last statement may be valid. it could be that Tim Scott is an anomaly, one of very few people followed around in stores, regularly condemned by a racial epithet, and stopped by police simply because he is black. Maybe innumerable others have been similarly stereotyped but there are so many redeeming qualities of racial brotherhood regularly exhibited  that "racist" is too broad an accusation. Or perhaps he holds to the traditional view of racism (as do I) that it refers only to a belief in the inherent inferiority of a race rather than the garden variety of hostility and bigotry.

Although a sense of decency should compel Scott to explain how the USA is not racist if in light of what he (claims he) has undergone, the betting here is that the juxtaposition of sentiments was calculated and strategic. Scott wanted Republicans everywhere to know that he is on the America, Best Ever team, and that his teammates can remain unapologetic. Simultaneously, he'll play the victim and better yet, the victim called the n-word by progressives and liberals. Grabbing the chance to whine without blaming conservatives and the other usual suspects is a win-win. 

Tim Scott lays out a pattern of being profiled without acknowledging its persistence in society nor offering any solutions. He has pronounced America not racist but can offer conservatives and Republicans the opportunity to boast of voting for a man who has felt the "pain" of being black in America.

At this early date, there are dozens of viable prospects to be the GOP vice presidential nominee. Tim Scott, as a phony extraordinaire, is one of them.


 


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