Saturday’s editorial comes courtesy of the Florence Morning News:
It’s not clear whether or not Rep. Tim Scott was Gov. Nikki Haley’s first choice to replace Jim DeMint as U.S. senator from South Carolina, but there’s not much question that he was – politically speaking, anyway – the safest choice.
For the time being, and on the surface, the selection of Scott, a conservative black congressman from Charleston, helps the Republican Party, helps Haley and probably doesn’t cause any serious injury to the people of South Carolina.
Yes, liberals won’t like the pick, but c’mon – Haley wasn’t going to pick Vince Sheheen for this one. Scott will be conservative, maybe even as conservative as the ultra-righty DeMint, who endorsed him. But for Democrats, all that means is that they’re no worse off than they were before.
Republicans surely acquired a national brownie point or two in the transaction. The party that was roundly criticized for its lily white homogeneity during the last election can now stake some claim to being the party of opportunity for minorities. Scott will be the only black senator when he is sworn in, and two of the Senate’s three Hispanics are also Republican. Four of the five governors who are racial minorities (including Haley) are Republican, too.
Oddly, the pick also makes Haley appear progressive – she’s the minority governor who appointed a minority – and furthers her national (if not local) appeal as a conservative capable of independent action. Think she’s not ahead of the curve? She appointed a black man to the U.S. Senate. No other living southern governor has done that.
All these benefits stand a chance of drying up and blowing away at some point down the road. Scott, who’s entering his third congressional term, is hardly an experienced legislator and the mark he’ll eventually make very much remains to be seen.
For the time being he figures to become a prominent, and oft-displayed, figure in Republican politics.
His is a compelling story. The product of a single-mother household who bootstrapped his way to a business fortune (the 47-year-old Scott is a multi-millionaire), Scott can trade log cabin stories with the best of them. He also has true conservative bonafides. He began his political career in Strom Thurmond’s last campaign, and has crusaded, at one time or another, for most of the top conservative causes.
But eventually, it’s his mettle and merit, both still unproven, that will determine how far he goes and what impact he makes.
For now, Haley’s pick is a good, safe splash for the GOP.
She could have done worse.