Alvin Greene knows the whole country is talking about him. But does he really know what it's saying?
At least judging by how the South Carolina Senate candidate has answered questions and by the speeches he’s given (only two at this point), the answer is, probably not. He is, after all, the candidate who won his race for the Democratic nomination purely by fluke. He had spent less than $5,000 on the race, and one of the primary he reasons he won, NEWSWEEK investigated, likely had to do with him being listed first on the ballot. Since then, his military record has been scrubbed by the national media, his family pursued by reporters, and he’s become the fodder of snarky bloggers and late-night comedians.
Running in a statewide race is tough, but fighting a battle to be taken seriously compounds the challenge. It doesn’t help that political operatives have looked at Greene with one eyebrow up, and even his state party has less-than-privately mused about how to nullify the election results to get rid of him.
It’s enough to almost make you feel sorry for the guy.
Sure, Greene has been the subject of “how did that happen?” discussions everywhere, but really, he’s brought the worst of it on himself. The almost cringingly tone-deaf Greene, who describes himself as a “political junkie,” has kept himself in the news cycle—and not in a good way—through a series of squirm-worthy gaffes. He sat for an unfocused and rambling interview with The New York Times. When asked how he’d raise money, he suggested, and not apparently jokingly, that his campaign sell statues of himself. Then, to really show he means business, he made a rap he posted on YouTube to rhythmically tout his credentials.
It’s possible that Greene could turn out to be a decent senator—a spokesman for ordinary people certifiably untouched by the Washington machine. But it seems that the more he tries to be taken seriously, the more he ends up looking like a buffoon. It's highly unlikely he'll win, but he could probably use some better advice than he's getting from his pro-bono campaign team. No more raps might be a good thing. Pre-written speeches (by someone other than Alvin Greene) is probably not a bad idea either.
Greene says he has some local supporters, but it'll be hard to judge how many until Election Day. Until then, at least one diehard is on Team Greene. In the closing credits to his YouTube rap, Greene makes a shout-out: “Special Thanks: Dad.”
UPDATE: After this item was published, the New York Times reported that the rap video was, in fact, not made by Greene or his campaign. A pair of supporters in Brooklyn and San Francisco have taken credit. But for the record, Greene is thrilled with it. He says it's "a hit video."