32 year-old unemployed veteran Alvin Greene came out of nowhere to win the South Carolina Democratic Senate Primary. Is he an embodiment of anti-establishment rage? The next Sarah Palin? Or literally brain damaged?
After Greene—who lives in a "tiny ramshackle home" with his dad and is facing a felony obscenity charge—improbably beat his much more-qualified opponent last week, the media rushed to figure out what happened. Some were shocked into conspiracy theories: Greene's a Republican plant! Other people thought he may have legitimately won—maybe because his name was higher on the ballot? It's unclear which of these groups has less faith in Democracy.
The question now before the pundits and bloggers: What is Alvin Greene? Again, two dominant theories have emerged. To some, Alvin Greene is "The Real Joe the Plumber"—the logical end product of the wave of anti-incumbent rage that is supposedly sweeping the nation. Newsweek and the Washington Post compare his, uh, downhome rhetorical style (unfavorably) to Sarah Palin's. Some contrast Greene's humility about his military service to a career politician like Conn. Senator Richard Blumenthal's shameless embellishment. To Time Alvin Greene's election is a sign of a return to pragmatism among voters.
So, maybe Alvin Greene is a more hardcore Sarah Palin: Where she verbally rebuffed Washington elite-style politics, Greene actually did it. What's less politically elite than not actually engaging in politics? The guy didn't even have lawn signs.
Or! Maybe Alvin Greene is mentally impaired. Not a metaphorical "crazy," like Kentucky Libertarian Rand Paul. Medically: His brain is damaged. South Carolina Rep. Todd Rutherford told CNN he wants Greene to undergo "some sort of mental evaluation." He's worried Greene might be a real-life Lenny:
"I feel like he is being exploited, like there is a joke going and he doesn't get it," said Rutherford, who did not press Greene to drop his bid. "It is troublesome at best. I think his mental capacity may prohibit him from getting the joke."
Last night, in the oddest interview with Greene yet—definitely an accomplishment!—CNN's Don Lemon repeatedly asked him about his mental capability. (See above.) And, well, when Lemon told him that lawmakers were worried about his cognitive ability, Greene called them "knuckleheads" and started giggling to himself. Urlesque got straight to the point: "Borderline-retarded"
As his campaign showed, Alvin Greene is utterly disconnected from the normal workings of political power. He didn't show up at a single Memorial Day parade and pretend to be interested in what voters had to tell him! He didn't even have a half-assed website with pictures of his politically convenient marriage. Also, he is incoherent and obviously incompetent. But he won anyway! The media is split between seeing this as evidence that Greene is a proto-Sarah Palin or proof that he is "borderline-retarded". This says something funny about both Sarah Palin and the media.