Four years ago, it was South Carolina Republicans who basked in the glow of national media attention as their many competitors fought it out in the Palmetto State’s important early primary.
Now it’s the Democrats turn to be in the limelight, as they were this past weekend with even more of their competitors vying for attention and support in the first-in-the-south primary.
But that’s where the similarity starts and ends.
Whereas Donald Trump came to South Carolina and dislodged (disemboweled?) the Republican establishment, Joe Biden and all the rest were here to kiss the ring (or whatever) of the Democratic Party establishment.
Make no mistake, Jim Clyburn is the essence of the state Democratic party establishment. And make no mistake, there was no Donald Trump among the would-be Dem presidents.
To say there was no criticism of Clyburn’s Dem establishment would be an understatement. Indeed, that understatement even showed up in the candidates’ outerwear, witness the “This is Clyburn Country” T-shirt comedy skit at the Fish Fry. I mean, spontaneous tribute.
And I bet it was spontaneous to the candidates, all of whom went along once the first one did. While I bet plenty of them didn’t like it, none had the guts to say, “No thank you.”
To be fair, one — and only one — Dem candidate did not wear the Clyburn T-shirt before actually addressing the crowd: Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Good for the Bern, who showed both dignity and daring in declining to offer his remarks about running for president of the United States while sucking up to a local pol and looking ridiculous doing so.
(As for the others, they provided a junior high class president election look and feel. U.S. senators and House members, governors and mayors removed their jackets, ties and even shirts in some cases in order to put on the T and kiss up to Mr. C, the supposed kingmaker in the South Carolina primary.
And, of course, pose for a group picture wearing the T-shirts. That looked like what it was. And we all know what it was.
But what is Clyburn’s real influence with Dem voters? I don’t know, but I do know Barack Obama won here in 2008 without him.
Instead, it was Dick Harpootlian’s fiery support of Obama (including no holds barred attacks on both Bill and Hillary Clinton) that led to Obama’s big victory here and the effective end of the first “Hillary Can’t Lose But She Did” campaign (the primary edition, followed later by the general election sequel).
Which brings me to Joe Biden. The bottom line? He’s too old. And too olden.
By the way, here’s the definition of olden: “archaic; relating to former times.”
Good lord, they may as well have put Biden’s picture with it.
From his handsy-with-the-ladies behavior, to his leading role in the passage of the Clinton crime bill that today’s Democrats despise, to what some see as his mistreatment of Anita Hill while serving as Senate Judiciary chairman during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, to his “here today gone tomorrow” support for the Hyde amendment banning taxpayer funding of abortion, to his son’s emerging business and personal scandals and his own role in them.
And on to his gratuitous use of the word “boy” in seeming to try to compare his own life to those who have suffered racial injustice (yes, those elected to the U.S. Senate at age 29 and holding major public office for nearly 50 years really experience that suffering and injustice), to being the eternal gaffe machine of American politics.
Joe Biden is the very definition of “olden.”
And yes, he’s also too old chronologically. If elected president, Biden would be 78 when he takes office. That’s older than Ronald Reagan was when he left office. Think about that.
Plus, Botox shots or whatever else notwithstanding, Biden sometimes just looks old. And sounds old. And seems old. Because he is old. Too old.
South Carolina Democratic voters should realize it. And move on.
Fisher is president of Fisher Communications, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm. He is active in local issues involving the arts, conservation, business and politics. Let us know what you think: Email email@example.com.