December 18 2012

Great Scott!

Charlotte Hays

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s appointment of Rep. Tim Scott, a Tea Party stalwart, to the Senate seat being vacated by Jim DeMint is terrific news for those who believe in limited government, fiscal responsibility, and reigning in union abuses.

Describing himself as “not really anti-union” but “pro-worker,” Scott explained in the spring in a Heritage Foundation interview why he was sponsoring the Employee Rights Act, loathed by unions. The act would empower workers by giving them a choice as to whether to belong to a union. This brand of choice doesn’t appeal to Democrats, who tend to prefer that workers pay compulsory dues into union coffers (which then often go to Democratic campaign coffers).

In addition to the obvious political considerations, Scott comes across as just a great guy. On being appointed to the Senate, he said:

“I am very thankful to the good Lord and a strong mom who believed that sometimes love has to come at the end of the switch,” Mr. Scott said with a smile, pointing to his mother in the audience. “And she loved me a lot.”

Okay, I guess we have to discuss race, and of course it is perfectly meet and right to savor the “delicious irony” of Scott’s sitting in the seat that the late Strom Thurmond occupied for 47 years. Scott kicked off his national political career by defeating Paul Thurmond, son of Strom Thurmond, for the GOP nomination to run for the first district congressional seat.

So liberals are beside themselves with joy, hailing the reality of American diversity as manifested in the appointment of Scott, right? Wrong.

The Wall Street Journal notes:

Liberals tend to overemphasize racial diversity, especially in politics, but the diversity lobby was notably missing in action Monday after South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley's announcement that she chose Tim Scott to replace departing Senator Jim DeMint. It is a striking moment nonetheless.

But read a little more and it becomes crystal clear why Scott bugs them:

The best news is that Senator-designate Scott's story isn't about racial grievance and preference. It's a measure of personal achievement, political conviction and the opportunities available in modern American politics.

To his credit, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina told the New York Times that he respects the “historic nature” of Scott’s becoming a senator (he will be the only black senator currently serving):

Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, one of the Democratic Party’s senior black leaders, offered his congratulations to Mr. Scott while noting that they “don’t see eye-to-eye on most political issues and more often than not cancel out each other’s votes.”

“I believe he is the personification of South Carolina’s motto, ‘While I breathe, I hope,’ ” Mr. Clyburn said. “The historic nature of this appointment is not lost on me, and I am confident Tim Scott will represent South Carolina and the country honorably.”

The Tea Party has foisted some lemons on the Republican Party—there are some easy pick-ups that were lost because of Tea Party candidates. But National Journal’s Josh KIraushaar sees the Tea Party as embodied in politicians such as Scott as the hope of the GOP:

Republicans face the taller task, given that their voting base is predominantly white, but the tea party provided a playbook for how it can be done. Forget one’s political history and reputation. Stop obsessing over which candidates can raise the most money, increasingly an anachronism in today’s super-PAC fueled political environment.

Look for qualified outsiders who can put the best face forward for a Republican Party, with a message centered on opportunity. Nikki Haley and Tim Scott proved it can be done, and they are now two of the most powerful officeholders in South Carolina--in the heart of the old Confederacy.

So raise a cuppa tea to the Senate's newest member!

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