The sounds of silence
It all started with a phone call back in the summer from Travis Worthy, the lead singer of Soul Function, who was working on GOP candidate Tim Rice’s bid for the new Seventh Congressional District, and he asked me to consider doing a cover story on the home-grown candidate.
I thought it over, but did not commit. I didn’t see how we could do a cover story on Rice without giving equal time to his opponent, Democratic candidate Gloria Tinubu – and vice versa. After all, we’re not a mouthpiece for either party.
Rice had come up a few times in our pages during his stint as Horry County Council Chairman, most notably in our Ridin’ with Big E column, as Rice has been seen as representing the area’s anti-bike rally faction.
I floated the idea of having Rice sit down with Big E…but then the election season went into overdrive and we moved onto other things.
But today’s date – Nov. 1 – was sticking out on my editorial calendar. Would it be the opportunity to do something election-related as a last ditch effort before Election Day (which is Tuesday, by the way)?
Or is everyone sick of politics, PACS, finger-pointing, debates and self-appointed Facebook Constitutional scholars?
Speaking of Facebook, I was scrolling down my friends’ newsfeeds one day, and something caught my eye. It was a blog by The New Yorker entitled “A Conservative History of the United States,” and poked fun at right wing revisionist history and plain ol’ political pundit gaffes, such as this one: “ 1607: First welfare state collapses: “Jamestown colony, when it was first founded as a socialist venture, dang near failed with everybody dead and dying in the snow.”— Dick Armey
It was hilarious, but I thought, what about some of the inaccurate goofs by the other side – the liberal left?
Surely Vice President Joe Biden has fouled up enough so-called facts to have his own book of gaffes.
Then there’s the accusations of lying and fact-checking going on in the seemingly never-ending Obama vs. Romney duel…
So, fast forward to early October and I met up with Surge correspondent Christina Knauss at the Barnes & Noble Café at The Market Common to cook up story ideas for the coming months, and I asked her: “What if we asked some political candidates questions about U.S. history and government– such as when Sarah Palin was asked about Paul Revere – and see how they do, and grade them?”
She was immediately energized by the idea, and we penciled it in for Nov. 1 – and she made the suggestion that we focus on the candidates that will represent us in the new 7th District – a race I feel like not everyone is aware of – nor aware of its impact.
We agreed that this should be a pop-quiz kind of thing, where the candidates weren’t allowed to consult, or otherwise cheat, so it’d have to be done face-to-face. I started thinking about the kinds of questions, and had an epiphany when our art director mentioned she had a friend studying to take the U.S. Citizenship test. Bingo! I researched some of those questions, and came up with a couple of other ones and sent them to Knauss, who also came up with a handful of her own.
Our intrepid correspondent then tracked down the candidates to see if they’d play ball.
Tinubu was in – but I was still skeptical until we had her interview/quiz in the bag.
Rice, and his handlers, dodged us repeatedly and it appeared Rice was declining to participate.
I twice sent e-mails to Jonathan Dix, Communications Director for Tom Rice For Congress, asking why he wouldn’t take our pop quiz – and noting that his opponent had – and got…nothing. Nothing but e-silence.
While still trying to track down Rice – I sent Knauss to the Oct. 23 debate at Coastal Carolina University so she could snag him in person – I began to brainstorm a Plan B. I didn’t want Tinubu’s quiz to go to waste – but I also couldn’t let it be a one-sided story. He declined there, too, brushing her off.
What could we do?
If Clint Eastwood can converse with an empty chair meant to represent President Obama, and we can’t get Tom Rice to talk with us – and you, the reader – then we had no choice but to defer to his campaign mascots – Snap, Crackle and Pop! – those gnomes who adorn the Rice Krispies Treats that candidate Rice has on supply at his campaign headquarters.
To find out if you’re smarter than a congressional candidate – or a trio of iconic cereal killahs – turn to home page. In addition, we’ve got some last-minute local voting info to help you as you gear up for Election Day.
Kent Kimes, Editor