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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Inside the Seersucker Showdown

As promised, FITS had a ringside seat for this morning/afternoon's long-awaited showdown between GOP Treasurer Nominee Thomas Ravenel and the "Seersucker Kingfish," BEA Chairman John Rainey.

The so-called "Seersucker Showdown," which was shown live on statewide television by SCETV, featured two of the highest-profile members of the Republican Party doing battle over our state's unfunded liabilites, investment performance, credit rating and government structure.

Of course, we missed much of the first 20 minutes of the meeting (a.k.a. the "Rainey Soliloquy") staring intently at SC Retirement Chief Peggy Boykin's long legs and to-die-for high-heeled black slingbacks.

Anyway, leading the "discussion" (remember, we won't have an actual Treasurer's Office "debate" given incumbent Grady Patterson's deterioriating capabilities) was "The Talented Mr. Rainey," who demonstrated for those previously unaware why he is universally regarded as the most pompous, patrician and presumptuous member of the GOP's status quo, liberal-leaning left.

Aggressively defending Democrat Patterson's abysmal record and attempting to expose Ravenel as a "dilettante," Rainey appeared throughout the two-hour exchange as a rude, arrogant and narrow-minded dilettante himself, repeatedly interrupting Ravenel, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and anyone else who attempted to break the steady stream of hot air emanating from his flapping gums.

Ravenel, on the other hand, surprised many inside-the-beltway observers by keeping his cool and not taking the Rainey bait, instead maintaining his poise, staying magnanimous and polite throughout the exchange, illustrating a solid command of the financial particulars up for debate and basically allowing Rainey to interrupt him repeatedly and vent his spleen for the vast majority of the session.

Ravenel scored solid "W's" in the core discussion categories of a) the impact of cost-of-living adjustments on our unfunded liability as a state, b) the underperformance of our retirement portfolio compared to similar large public funds and c) Patterson's ineffectiveness in managing communication between the state and credit rating agencies.

T-Rav also scored a master stroke at one point during the discussion of Patterson's poor performance with the rating agencies, using a letter Rainey himself wrote less than a year ago describing the actions (or lack thereof) of the incumbent as "bizarre," "cavalier," "failed" and "faulted."

Rainey was reduced to accusing FITS' own Sic Willie of leaking the letter to the Ravenel Camp, before huffing and puffing that he had held a "follow-up meeting" with Treasurer Patterson shorly after sending the letter that effectively resolved their differences.

Rainey also blamed Sic Willie for his "Kingmaker" nickname, which our favorite bad boy (on statewide television, no less) clarified as being "Seersucker Kingfish."

Aside from one or two minor stumbles, however, Ravenel dramatically exceeded expectations in this tete-a-tete with one of the most powerful, experienced and eloquent defenders of South Carolina's failed status quo.

Ravenel also staked himself out much further than at any previous point on what has emerged as one of the critical questions of the campaign - whether or not he would serve a full term, saying that he may even serve two terms if elected but that he would definitely serve a full term barring any "incredibly unforseen" eventualities.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Rainey said he isn't running for anything, "yet." I didn't know we voted for the office of State Jerk. Sounds like a perfect campaign for Terry Sullivan to run.

3:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And many peeps said Rod Shealy And T-Rav were idiots for accepting this challenge...seems to me that this was not the case.

3:56 PM

 
Blogger bitingblondewit said...

Kudos to Mr. Ravenal (and Mr. Folks) for remaining calm and collected in the face of lunacy. Well done!

4:08 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simply an extraordinary exchange - at one point the ETV link was ricocheting around the Greenwich CT. IP addresses – how the trading world loves an old TV program –
The Dukes of Hazardous Alpha.

Outside of the obvious concern to some of what a reorganized B&C might do – could this have been a pre-emptive strike to prevent Grady from having to step forward in debate.

Will there be a Round Two with Rainey and Grady – can you find Seersucker hospital gowns. Did he intimate that he was running in Grady’s stead?

But really – why not just ask him – “who are you and whom do you think appointed you Lord High Interlocutor” – I know who appointed him and who should remove him for gross insubordination.

No clearer juxtaposition will ever be better dramatized – for what this State needs to leave behind and rise into anew. Not without gratitude by the way – but not with this feigned elitism.

It is not Generational Chauvinism – it is representative Democracy in action – Thomas is running for elective office – Kingfish is just running off at a well polished mouth – The American Bar at it’s best – opinion only after reading the transcript.

The only dismissive regional colloquialism he did not succeed in performing – because this was all about performing - was he did not yell at Thomas “Hush Puppy”.

“Frankly Scarlet – I keep a Webster’s dictionary in the head with me”.

4:54 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised that this blog's account of the debate is substantially different from The State's. As much as I trust the press, I'm more inclined to totally believe the blog than the major newspaper. As a moderate conservative, I'm baffled that Folks however places me in the liberal status quo group. I don't want to vote for somebody in marginal health, one that Strom could have run circles around at the same age. However, there is one way that TRAV could clinch this office, and that is disavow any intent to run against Graham mid-term. To many who like Graham, this makes them uneasy about somebody they should naturally support, remembering Grady got defeated last time he lost the top bond rating. To those whose memory is short, in 1975, a year after henry Mills was reelected Comptroller General, he retired and the General Assembly in a prearranged deal elected Earle Morris. If Grady were re- elected and did not serve out his term, if things keep hostile between the legislature and His Excellency, the self-fulfilling prophecy for T Rav about debating a surrogate rather than the opponent might be Rainey elected Treasurer by the legislature. Or else T Rav might be going for another perennial strong race against Lindsay at the time. Mr. Ravenel, attack your opponent, not surrogates! This will be a tough year for the GOP and when Graham runs again, we will either still be trying to hold on to the Senate or recapture it after 2006. Democrats would be salivating at rebounding further after a divisive GOP primary.

8:42 AM

 
Blogger The Body Politic - Joshua Gross said...

I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with Eckstrom's handling of the situation. Ravenel did well, and Rainey was clearly a jerk, but Eckstrom shone brightest with his explanations and understanding of the situation in total. Made me glad to have him around.

9:08 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon #1 that is too funny --- Rainey and Sullivan - no that would be some fun!
Kudos to Thomas and Will!

9:17 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Josh,

Isn't it a bit unwise for the Executive Director of a group like Club for Growth to be calling one of the top Republican fundraisers in the SE a jerk?

I could see how that might be bad for business.

11:22 AM

 
Blogger Upstate Voice said...

Good God, Willard. You seem like a marginally intelligent guy, but at least fake a little objectivity.

It's really no fun to argue with a political automaton.

4:04 PM

 
Anonymous west_rhino said...

So SC dilettante ETV brings us the seersucker dilettante vs the accused dilettante... all this without a Pat Buchanan's alliteration. One wonders if T-Rav could nudge dilettante ETV into the private sector via outsourcing, from a spot on the Budget and Control Board.

8:20 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rainey is an idiot. If he hadn't inherited all his money he would be a poor asshole. Now we all know that he is a rich asshole.

I was one of the ones that said that this was a lose-lose situation for Thomas, but I think I may have been wrong. Rainey is just one vote, Thomas ain't gonna get it.

On the other hand, they both made Patterson look like a baffoon (sp?). You get my drift. We did see Trav Robertson in the house, but he ain't the Treasurer.

Thomas would be smart to challenge Grady to two debates. They need to be short, because I don't think Grady can stay awake to long.

4:35 PM

 
Blogger Palmediblog said...

Did anyone else find it humorous that Eckstrom couldn't even recall the board on which Rainey serves, just seconds after remarking how well they knew each other ("I don't know Mr. Ravenel well...John, I know you very well.")?

The transcript goes something like this:

ECKSTROM-(speaking to Rainey)"...I commend you for what you've done with the, uh, Board of Economic--(pause)--uh--Board of--B.E.A.(pause)"

RAINEY-(in background)"Economic Advisors!"

ECKSTROM-"Economic Advisors--yeah"

Let's just hope Eckstrom isn't this clueless when it comes to handling our state's finances.

4:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still no disclosure of the fact that you're on the Ravenel payroll?

7:07 PM

 
Anonymous Daniel said...

John,

I know what you're saying, but there is actually a lot of confusion between the Board of Economic Advisors and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which share the acronym BEA. Anyone that deals with the two tends to get tounge-tied when they attempt to use the formal name of one.

11:16 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the Board of Economic Analysis? Is that another element of the Budget & Control Board or is it external to state government . . . ?

10:45 AM

 

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