Last Wednesday, U.S. Congressman Henry Brown (R-SC) and Democratic Party challenger Linda Ketner faced off in a live, hour-long round table discussion of issues in the race for the First Congressional District.

Debates, as has been proven time and again, do no favors for incumbents and are a great opportunity for unfamiliar candidates to get some free exposure to the public. Brown knows this and only grudgingly acquiesced to two appearances with Ketner.

As an aside, I find it hard to tell whether Brown is pissed because he’s got a serious challenger this time or if he’s incredulous that said challenger is a wealthy woman who, to him, ought to be spending her time going to lunch and sponsoring charitable activities. ‘Cause you know, politics is man’s work.

The debate didn’t do Henry any favors. He came across as a bullying, ill-mannered cry-baby who only wanted to talk about offshore drilling and Ketner’s television ad highlighting Brown’s irresponsibility with a 2004 fire on his property that escaped to the Francis Marion National Forest and his effort to get out of paying a fine for it.

Ketner kept her cool and stayed on-topic, which was all she had to do to emerge somewhat victorious from the encounter. But things got interesting at the end when the two were offered time to make final remarks to the viewers.

An apparently piqued Brown took the chance to attack Ketner, saying her fire ad was a lie and that he had a permit for the blaze. He also told Ketner to “be a real Southern lady and tell the truth.”

Ketner responded, “There is nothing in that ad that wasn’t taken directly from newspapers.”

Brown had also sneered, “You’re not making any friends by running that ad … My friends, they know that story … They feel you don’t have a record to run on so you’re trying to destroy me. I’d like you to take it down, or we’ll have to respond. There’s a lot of stuff out there about you, and we don’t want this to be a personal issue.”

Uh Henry, I’ve got news for you — her mom and dad already know she’s a lesbian.

Brown also demanded Ketner remove a campaign website video of her allegedly ridiculing his marriage and constituent service. Ketner clearly had no idea what he was talking about but did agree to remove any inaccurate materials once she got the chance to check his allegations. She added, “If it is, there’s going to be some firing going on.”

It turns out that Brown’s Jerry Falwell-esque outrage was over six seconds of a 34-minute speech Ketner had given on the economy at a fund-raiser in which she did indeed adopt a good-old-boy persona saying, “Oh, I’ve been good at constituent service and I’ve been married for 48 years,” to illustrate a larger point of the country’s financial shape.

I’d say Henry Brown does a spot-on impersonation of a soccer player protesting an imaginary foul, but I digress.

Ketner removed the video that she had approved, saying, “He saw it in a way that was not intended as I was referring to politics-as-usual and not him personally. I took it down because I told him I would.”

It looks like the notoriously thin-skinned Brown finally woke up and realized the campaign isn’t the customary cakewalk this time, and he’s got to go negative with vague threats of personal attacks.

This, like his bad judgement with the fire, is somehow Linda Ketner’s fault and has absolutely nothing to do with him blindly following the White House and Republican Party leadership for the last eight years.

Truth be told, all Henry had to do was pay the fine from the get-go, and there’d be no story. But he just can’t let it go. He eventually told The Post and Courier, “She playing with fire, literally with fire.”

Actually Henry, it’s “figuratively.” You’re the one who was literally playing with fire.

The money shot of the P&C article was Brown’s assertion, “Something is going to happen. We’re not going to stand by and let her completely fabricate my record.”

Who needs to fabricate? Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.!

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