Sunday, November 12, 2006

Junior campaigned in strange places

Who is that young man in the ball cap standing in front of a large, painted on the side of a building, Confederate Flag?
Would you believe it's the failed Senate candidate from Tennessee Harold Ford Jr.?
One Junior got spanked in Tuesday's election, one didn't. The photo, which we've enlarged part of to make sure everyone zoomed in on the flag and Ford, is from P4 of The New York Times, Wednesday, November 8, 2006. We're running it under Truthout's reasoning: "In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. t r u t h o u t has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is t r u t h o u t endorsed or sponsored by the originator." We do think this is educational.
We think it's a lesson that a lot of people missed and we think they need to be informed. Take Kirk Clay, for instance.
He appeared on Democracy Now! Friday and had quite a bit to say, including some of the following.
KIRK CLAY: Well, you know, oddly enough, for African Americans, this is sad to say, but, you know, we’ve seen these kinds of politics, especially in a red state like Virginia. I mean, you know, we do need to look at this. I mean, we're talking about the South. We're talking about a state that at one point refused to open their public schools, you know, because integration was being enforced. So, we sort of -- I mean, that wasn't -- it was an issue, because we understood it, but a lot of people in our community had known a lot of these things a long time ago. You know, when he was first running for office, we knew that this guy, you know, had a noose in his office at one point and that this guy used to walk around with the Confederate flag pin. So, some of these issues, we had already known. [. . . .] You know, even Harold Ford, I mean, and some of the things that happened to him, which is so disappointing for us. You know, we have to do better in places like Tennessee. I mean, campaigning like that and airing ads like that, very nasty partisan ads like that, you know, that’s just not the way to go. But that is the positive things.
Oh, yeah, poor Harold Ford Junior. We addressed him last week when the silly-Sallys were still gas bagging on how it was Willie Horton time that a White woman was used in ad to portray a Playboy Bunny. (Playboy Bunnies are stereotyped as White and blonde.) While Horton served time for rape, the Playboy Bunny wasn't a rape victim. She wanted to see him again. ("Call me.") We were all supposed to be outraged that Ford's visit to a Playboy party after the Superbowl resulted in ad accusing him of some sort of consensual contact with a White woman.
You know, maybe we missed that week's memo, but were we supposed to be offended by an interacial interaction of some form? (There wasn't even anything to suggest that they'd had sex. Only that the Bunny was highly interested in him after the party.)
So there was Kirk Clay, on Friday, offering as an example of racism (and we agree with him on that) someone (White) wearing a Confederate flag pin on his lapel.
Anyone want to explain the photo of Junior?
It's Getty Images and The Times caption reads: "LAST-MINUTE ROUNDS: Harold E. Ford Jr., a Democratic congressman from Tennessee who was running for a Senate seat, at a late campaign stop yesterday outside the Little Rebel Bar and Grille in Jackson. Mr. Ford was in a tight race against Bob Corker."
Check the body language of the Whites in the photo (there are three). Two have the arms folded in what might be seen as hostile body language. One has their back turned to him. But there's Ford in some sort of cap (perfect for duck hunting with the Klan?), trying to good 'ol boy it at the Little Rebel Bar and Grille which, just so happens, has a Confederate flag painted on the side.
Now some might argue that the stop was a snafu on the part of someone in the campaign?
Possibly, they forgot Harold Ford Jr. was African-American? (Ford's been accused of forgetting that himself.) If it was a snafu, a candidate gets the hell out of there, they don't walk around to campaign and meet & greet.
Ford did.
He even allowed his photo to be taken in front of the Confederate flag. What message does that send out?
In a 2003 Democratic presidential primary debate, Howard Dean's past statement of reaching out to the "guys with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks" became an issue and he had to publicly apologize for his word. Ford put those words into action apparently. Al Sharpton's take on Dean's original remark (which first popped up in an interview in February of 2003) was the following: ""If I said I wanted to be the candidate for people that ride around with helmets and swastikas, I would be asked to leave." Maybe, if Junior wants to run again, he can attempt to build his 'base' by going after the helmets and swastika crowd?
"Disappointing for us," Clay? Betty, Cedric and Ty note that Junior's actions have always been disappointing for their race. They feel that his photo-op pictured above took it to a whole other area of disappointment and disgust.
That's not to suggest that Junior can't be the victim of racism. He has been before and, the way the country still is, he will be again. But maybe the next time people want to get bent out of shape (on the right or left -- the right got bent out of shape over the use of the word "slavish" to describe an African-American Republican's devotion to the Bully Boy), they should remember that elected officials and candidates for office are supposed to be big boys and girls?
Meaning? Al Shaprton's been on the receiving end of some very vocal racism when running for office. Racism played a huge role in the hit on Cynthia McKinney. But there wasn't any rush to defend either by many of the ones who wanted to wring hands over a silly point. [As we noted last week, for a discussion of the actual racism in the ad, see Jeff Birkenstein's article at CounterPunch.] "I like football, and I like girls," was Junior's explanation for attending a Playboy party after the Superbowl.
"Girls"? No warning flags went up on that? It's fine for a thirty-plus US Representative to refer to women as "girls" and to attend a Playboy party. It's just, apparently, not fine for an ad to attempt to remark on it. Doing so is suddenly accusing Junior of being Willie Horton?
Junior went to a Playboy party. An ad remarked on his decision. It wasn't the end of the world. It's hard to call that aspect of the ad racism. (Though racists would be bent out of shape -- the way some on the left got -- by the suggestion of interracial contact.)
As so many 'brave' voices rushed to defend Junior, we didn't hear much from Junior on the topic.
We think time would have been better spent focusing on real issues instead of propping up a candidate who pushed privatizing Social Security, was anti-choice, spoke of loving the Bully Boy, had nothing to say against the illegal war, and was for the bankruptcy bill that is harming, and will continue to harm, many Americans. This year, The Black Commentar concluded a review of Junior's record by noting: "Will Ford be transformed into a dependable, honest, progressive politican, somebody Black folks can count on? Not a chance. Harold Ford cannot be trusted." We'd agree and think one of the many tragedies of this election was all the time wasted trying to prop up Junior.
Another tragedy? Despite our predictions over a year ago, one of the Junior's got elected.
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