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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Let's go race baiting

Call me, dusky negro man of the South

Tennessee Mud: Of Porn and Substance

By Kate Phillips

The mudslide in the Smoky Mountains continued all weekend in the Tennessee Senate race, to the point where Representative Harold Ford Jr., the Democrat, bus-stormed a news conference by his Republican opponent, Bob Corker, to complain about advertisements aimed at his family’s political troubles and now at himself.
Campaign AdA scene from a Republican National Committee commercial.

Last Friday the Corker campaign tried to distance itself from a Republican National Committee commercial that juxtaposes women and men talking about Mr. Ford’s good looks with suggestions that he took money from pornographers, was seen at a Playboy function and at the end, has a white blonde asking him to call her. (Watch the ad; Windows Media required)

On CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on Monday night, former Defense Secretary William Cohen, also former G.O.P. senator from Maine, walked up to the race issue and denounced it.

Here’s the CNN transcript:

Mr. Cohen: Secondly, I think the Republicans have to be careful, also, in terms of not engaging in conduct. And I was watching the - the Tennessee race, specifically. It reminded me of what happened in North Carolina with Harvey Gantt, a purely overt racist approach.

Mr. Blitzer: You are talking about the new RNC ad which has this white woman talking about Playboy and the - the African-American candidate, Harold Ford Jr., the Democratic candidate.

Mr. Cohen: It’s - to me, at least as I watch that, is a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment. And when the question is always asked, why - he would be the first African-American since Reconstruction elected to the Senate, you say, well, why is that the case? So, why is the South different? Why would they not elect someone…?

Mr. Blitzer: So, you’re a former Republican senator. Is the R.N.C. playing the racial card against Harold Ford in Tennessee right now?

Mr. Cohen: I think they are coming very close to it, if not doing it exactly. And I think they ought to stop it. I think that they have a candidate, and discuss the - the issues on the merits, and not get into that kind of personal type of an attack.

Now remember, this is one of the tightest Senate contests in the country, one of the on-one-hand countable seats both Republicans and Democrats consider absolutely critical to winning/retaining majority of the Senate. Both candidates are waging negative ad campaigns on their own. Mr. Ford’s ads have contended that Mr. Corker shielded his wealth from taxes, demanded that he release his tax returns, asserted that he hired illegal immigrants and much more. There’s already a lot of mud on the floor. This is just the latest.

As much as it pains me to say this, Jesse Helms had more class than that. When he attacked Gantt on affirmative action, it was vile, but it was an issue. People could agree or disagree with Gantt on it, even if it reminded people he was black.

This? This is a personal attack on Ford and plays the misegenation card hard. It's 2006, not 1976. The idea is that Ford went to the Playboy mansion and looks at white women. Something half the men at Ft. Campbell, on the Kentucky-Tennessee border would kill to do. Am I to understand looking at Playboy models is a bad thing?

First they wanted to say he was gay, then he's banging white women, which is it? It's so odious that even Corker wanted no part of it. Even in the South, it's not as big a deal as it was even 10 years ago. How many men would refuse a chance to go to the Playboy mansion to watch the superbowl, besides Mark Foley? He was being normal.

Too bad the Times blogger doesn't get the obvious. First, Cohen's wife is black, so he's especially offended by this. Second, it's a vile and ineffective argument, because of Corker's mistakes, which are about more important things, like the 911 screw up when Corker was mayor.

posted by Steve @ 11:58:00 AM

11:58:00 AM

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