Politics is absolutely a "What have you done for me lately?" profession. It's a problem when you, the politician, did something great last year, but nobody remembers. But it's an asset when you make a horrible mistake in the last crisis and everybody is too busy worrying about the current one to notice.
That's why we can't understand the attention strategists, reporters, and pundits are paying to two local GOP votes for the $700 billion bank bailout around three calamities ago.
A Politico piece this morning on Congressman Henry Brown's potential GOP primary challenge calls his support of the bailout "an issue that could become a defining theme in the Republican primary."
Congressman Gresham Barrett, a GOP candidate for governor in 2010, is also taking some heat for his bailout support from Richard Quinn, a consultant for Barrett's likely opponent, Attorney General Henry McMaster. Quinn told the Post and Courier over the weekend that Barrett's bailout support was a "serious liability."
So far, that doesn't seem to be the case. In a poll done by Ayres, McHenry, and Associates for the Barrett campaign, 500 likely Republican voters were presented with brief biographies of Barrett, McMaster, and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (who is also considering a run for the GOP nod). Those bios included the most prominent skelton in each potential candidate's closet.
Barrett's included his support of the bailout and the voters, for the most part, didn't seem to care — or they cared less about his vote than they did about Bauer's driving record and McMaster's history of tax problems and a high-profile loss in the courtroom.
The race was neck and neck among the voters polled prior to reading the bios, but Barrett pulled ahead afterwards, with 44 percent of the vote. He took more than half of the undecided voters, as well as maintaining 87 percent of those people who supported him in the pre-bio question. It's an indication that opponents are going to want to look around for something else in the closet, because the bailout vote alone isn't going to stop Barrett.