Say this for Alvin Greene: He has guts, and he is no phony.
In York Monday night - before a respectful crowd of people wondering just what this state has gotten itself into - Greene came across as bad a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in person as he seemed to be on television.
And any other way anybody ever saw him or heard him or read about him before.
Greene, 33, unemployed and under indictment on a felony obscenity charge, stood before curious western York County voters in his first stop in York County as a political candidate.
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He did not disappoint. He seemed to know very little about what he was asked, what he might do, or how he might do it.
Ashley Campbell was like so many after Greene's canned speech of about 15 minutes, followed by the candidate answering written questions for about 30 minutes.
Uncomfortable, Campbell was - a bit embarrassed for Greene.
"I wasn't impressed at all," said Campbell, 29, of Sharon, shaking his head from side to side. "Nice fella, sure, but I sure don't want him representing me. He didn't know what he was talking about."
Since his upset win in June's Democratic primary over a heavily favored political insider, Greene's candidacy has stunned and shocked York County, South Carolina and the nation.
The Democratic Party big shots have tried to get him to drop out of the race. But Greene is nothing if not persistent. He does not quit.
He showed courage Monday night.
"He sure seems like a decent young man, but what happened here tonight is just not right," said Dick Bankhead, a thoughtful 66-year-old political independent from Sharon. "He didn't know what he was doing up there. The Democrats better save him - from himself. Somebody needs to spend time with him.
"Nobody should have to be a laughingstock."
Greene answered questions, in fits and starts. But he didn't say specifically how he would do anything, pay for anything - or, really, why he would do anything - except to put America back to work.
Greene "put on a tutorial on how not to present yourself as a candidate," said Frank Duncan, 63, from York, by not answering a single question with "coherence" - except by saying that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Other than that, Duncan said, "he didn't answer a single thing. He doesn't have a clue. We got a bunch of dingbats up there in Washington, but at least they can speak a complete sentence.
"This was embarrassing. A farce."
Jeremy Johnson of York, 45, asked Greene why he chose his first foray into politics as a Senate candidate rather than trying something on a local level in his hometown of Manning. Greene's answer: "I can have the largest impact in a recession. I can do more."
Still, Greene didn't say a single specific thing he would "do more" of, or what he would do for "impact."
But Johnson said Greene tried, and that was good enough for him.
"Even though he doesn't have the polish, he did pretty good," Johnson said.
Most in this curious crowd found Greene to be just what they expected - a candidate left hanging out to dry by his political party, trudging through answers like a mailman through heavy snow.
Greene delivered the mail all right; but it was mostly bills and junk mail.
A listener named Don Davidson said Greene won't be good for the state, but everybody deserves a right to speak.
And speak Greene did, in mostly quiet monotone, for about 45 minutes, saying almost nothing specific at all.
"It's a change, I will give him that," said Don Johnson of Hickory Grove. "He tried up there, that's for sure. I gotta give him that.
"But to elect this guy would be to go from bad to worse."
Jenny Duncan, daughter of Frank Duncan from Sharon, listened to the whole forum. She was patient and gave Greene the benefit of the doubt.
But afterward she wondered, "How did this guy ever get this far?"
I have never before said I was embarrassed to be from South Carolina, but I might just say that now."