Natural selection is playing out with the local GOP

This column's title is an old New England lobsterman's phrase that refers to the trepidations of a lobster pot. No more than two lobsters can hang out in the capture basket (bedroom) because they will begin to devour each other.

Such was the case last week when one of The Eye's all-time favorite things happened — local Republican candidates turned on each other and then tried to downplay the significance of violating Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment.

For those out of the loop, Number 11 is as follows: Thou shalt not attack a fellow Republican.

It all started last March, when former U.S. Congressman and S.C. state Senator Arthur Ravenel Jr. (R) announced he would come out of political retirement and run for the Charleston County School Board.

He also let it be known that he would be running as part of a collective unit known as the "A-Team" — the "A" standing for "accountability."

At the time, The Eye was highly amused by this announcement, as "accountability" has long been a part of the GOP lexicon and phraseology that includes such gems as "liberal," "tax-and-spend," "soft on terrorism," "compassionate conservative," "family values," "economic opportunity," ad nauseam.

The original use of these sound bites was a brilliant idea thought up by the late Lee Atwater almost 30 years ago and was behind the success of the Reagan-era Republicans to the present.

Now, with overuse, an unpopular war, and Americans looking dourly at their economic prospects despite the nation's relative prosperity, the boilerplate has lost some of its bite.

The original "A-Team" slate included Ravenel, former U.S. Rep. Robin Beard, and CCSD school boardmembers Lurline Fishburne, Ray Toler, and Sandi Engelman.

The five had been meeting in the office of Charleston County Republican Party chair Cyndi Mosteller (sis of S.C. Sen. Chip Campsen) to plan lockstep stra-tee-gery.

That is, until last week, when Engelman abruptly departed from the fivefold, accusing Ravenel of plotting to fire school Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson should his peeps get elected.

The Eye would like to point out that the superintendent is African-American, while the "A-Team" is not blessed with this perspective.

Engelman alleged that Ravenel booted her off the team following a disagreement over Engelman's plan to support her husband's, fellow boardmember David Engelman, candidacy for board chairmanship.

All in all, GOP infighting is good for the voters of the school district, as it will highlight the narrow-mindedness of the party's education agenda along racial and economic lines.

The "A-Team" isn't interested in improving public education for all children ... its focus is inflating theirs and their neighbors' property values by resegregating the Charleston County School District.

If this happens, then no one wins — least of all the "A-Team" (unbeknownst to them).

As for Ravenel, he is 80 years old ... he needs to be sitting in his backyard watching that Confederate battle flag at the end of his dock wave in the breeze and reminiscing about "the good old days."

If there's no wind, all he has to do is open his mouth and let his hot air take care of the rest.


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