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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Tenenbaum Belittled Herself With Shameful Debate Performance
Jimmy Moore
October 4, 2004

Everyone agrees the battle for the U.S. Senate seat being given up by Democratic Sen. Ernest Fritz Hollings has gotten ugly. Really ugly!

But in a debate on Sunday night between U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum at the College of Charleston, it got even uglier.

Anyone who was in the audience or watching the debate from home saw Tenenbaum turn nasty and vicious in her attempt to win this election. There were plenty of examples.

First, when Tenenbaum would refer to the Congressman as "Jim" rather than "Mr. DeMint" or "Congressman DeMint," she was showing how completely disrespectful she is for him. Conversely, DeMint was extremely respectful to his opponent by referring to her as "Ms. Tenenbaum" and not "Inez." DeMint showed he is a gentleman even if Tenenbaum does not deserve to be treated that way!

Then, when Tenenbaum started whining that she did not like DeMint "patronizing" her by calling her "a good lady" who "doesn't understand" some of the issues in this campaign, again Tenenbaum hid behind her gender as an excuse to ridicule DeMint. These shameful actions did nothing but belittle Tenenbaum.

Second, Tenenbaum has refused to correct the lie she has been spreading in her campaign commercials over the past two months accusing DeMint of wanting to raise taxes on nearly everything by 23 cents. This is just not true because it is not the whole truth.

While Tenenbaum claims DeMint "wrote and introduced" the infamous bill, H.R. 25, into Congress, DeMint had to quickly correct her by stating that Democratic Sen. Zell Miller from Georgia was the one who drafted it, not him. Even after being told she was wrong, Tenenbaum insisted that DeMint was the author and argued that he was the man who came up with the idea. Even still, DeMint maintained he was one of over 50 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. Tenenbaum scoffed at this by repeating that DeMint's name is on the bill which proves he authored it. Is Tenenbaum for real? Is she so ignorant of the process that she does not realize a cosponsor does not necessarily write a bill, but instead puts their name on it as a supporter?! Is Tenenbaum really the best candidate the Democrats could come up with?

When faced with the facts, Tenenbaum chose to ignore them all for the sake of making her robotic point about DeMint supporting a 23-cent tax increase. You know, Tenenbaum is starting to sound like the broken record that people accused former Attorney General Charlie Condon of being during the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary when the answer to every question was that he would end property taxes in South Carolina.

For Tenenbaum, she has constantly repeated the lie that DeMint wants to institute a 23-cent national sales tax without simultaneously explaining that his plan would also get rid of the IRS forever. Again, this is deceptive to the voter and is shameful politicking by Tenenbaum that further belittles her.

Third, when DeMint was explaining that he was in favor of having an open discussion about various plans to reform the IRS, Social Security, education and Medicare, Tenenbaum claimed that DeMint was wanting to cause harm to the middle class. DeMint responded to this by stating he has never voted for a tax increase and even signed a pledge that he would not, something Tenenbaum has refused to do.

Tenenbaum smugly replied that President George W. Bush does not even support DeMint's plan although DeMint states he is a strong supporter of the president. Again, DeMint reiterated that he wants to have an open discussion about the options available for reforming the tax system to improve it. The fact that Tenenbaum is clueless about the need for tax reform is proof that she has no business running for the U.S. Senate. Her plan to keep things the way they are will only lead to greater problems that will need to be addressed at a later time when it may be too late!

As a sidebar, did you catch it when Tenenbaum made a faux pas and said she was in favor of eliminating the middle class. Yeah, that's what we're afraid of, Ms. Tenenbaum! Freudian slip? I think not!

Fourth, Tenenbaum said she does not appreciate DeMint criticizing the students, parents and teachers for her poor performance as education superintendent. That's not what DeMint has done and Tenenbaum knows it! Rather than accepting responsibility for the failures that have happened on her watch, Tenenbaum would rather portray this as an attack against education. Utterly shameful and disgusting political discourse!

But the fact remains that under Tenenbaum, education in South Carolina has gotten worse, not better, as evidenced by South Carolina coming in dead last in the latest SAT test scores. While Tenenbaum likes to tout that SAT test scores are up 35 points in the past six years, we're still in last place. Maybe she believes this is progress, but most people want to see measurable improvement. And even with Tenenbaum getting more money to spend on education and is still asking for more, education has not and will not improve until accountability in education standards are improved. As long as Tenenbaum is leading education in South Carolina, that will never happen!

Finally, Tenenbaum's assertion that she will be an "independent" voice in South Carolina and that she is running as an "independent" is about as dishonest as you can get. As DeMint pointed out, the Democratic Senatorial Committee is pouring tons of money into her campaign running attack ads against him in support of Tenenbaum's campaign because they know she will be a voice for their party in Washington, D.C.

Furthermore, while Tenenbaum may think of herself as an "independent," the last time I checked she was the DEMOCRATIC candidate for U.S. Senate.

Tenenbaum is desperately trying to distance herself as far as she can from the presidential campaign of Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry. She conspicuously avoided talking about him during the debate and tried to divert attention away from her support for him when DeMint challenged her on this.

Tenenbaum's response was she did not want to tie herself to a national candidate as DeMint has done with President Bush. But what Tenenbaum didn't want to say was that she is absolutely supporting Kerry and his pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, higher taxes and big government platform he will implement if elected because she knows that would be political suicide in South Carolina, where President Bush is expected to win 60-70% of the vote.

You can't blame Tenenbaum for wanting to run as far away from Kerry as she can because she knows that simply won't fly in the Palmetto state. But isn't it interesting the pickle Tenenbaum has found herself in? She's left to attack her opponent with misleading ads about a single issue. And she is trailing badly in nearly every poll. Or is she?

Although the latest SurveyUSA, Bass Research and Post and Courier polls shows DeMint up by double digits, the Tenenbaum campaign released an inside poll last week showing she is ahead by two points. Hmmm. Three other polls all show the same result that DeMint is leading by about 12 points on average. And yet Tenenbaum believes ALL of those are wrong and she's actually ahead by two points. You know, denial is one of the first symptoms of insanity. I guess the Tenenbaum campaign will be in for a rude awakening come November 3.

If her debate performance is any indication of the kind of U.S. Senator she would be if elected, then Tenenbaum would be the wrong choice for South Carolina voters to pick on election day. She belittled herself with her shameful debate performance and proved that she is just not yet ready for the big time.

Looking ahead to 2006, after Tenenbaum loses to DeMint in less than a month, it's time for the Republican Party to seriously begin their search for someone to seriously challenge Tenenbaum's seat for state superintendent of education. Of course, she will likely be the Democratic challenger to take on Gov. Mark Sanford if she thinks she has a chance to win. At this point, with Gov. Sanford's approval ratings as high as they are, I don't anticipate a serious challenger to emerge as a real threat. But Republicans will need a STRONG candidate to run for Tenenbaum's seat in 2006 regardless. Former state legislator Rita Allison comes to mind as a possibility since she has been working with Gov. Sanford on his education task force. Any other good suggestions?

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I scanned the first few paragraphs...just to remind myself why I don't read Jimmy's stuff anymore, and just thought it was amusing how he is criticizing Inez for misidentifying the author of H.R. 25 and he got it wrong. . . .

Read the rest.

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