A Few Words On Harold Ford Jr.

Conventional wisdom will say that Harold Ford Jr. lost just because he’s black.

Conventional wisdom is an idiot.

If there’s one thing you non-Tennesseans take away from this I hope it’s not that Ford lost because we’re a bunch of racist backwoods hicks.

The two main reasons Ford lost are as follows:

1. Every time there’s some kind of political scandal in this state some relative of Ford’s is caught up in it.  His family is corrupt in a way they write Shakespearian dramas about.  Corrupt in a way that approaches great art, so corrupt.  And yet, because Ford was dependant on the political will of his family and their cronies and such to run a campaign, he could never distance himself from his family.  Of course, he said he wouldn’t talk about his family, and so there never was any frank, loud discussion about how he was different than them, even though they brought him up through their system.

2.  Because he didn’t ever talk about what distinguished him from the rest of his family and because he has a well-known and well-earned reputation as something of a playboy, when he started talking about Jesus, it was shocking.  It signaled, I believe, a complete disconnect between what the voters of Tennessee wanted to know and what Ford thought we wanted from him.  We wanted to know if he was going to be a good man; he wanted to assure us that he was a Christian.

As everybody knows, being a Christian is not the same thing as being a good man. 

How could someone from a deeply corrupt family who himself has a reputation of something of a party boy stand in a church and claim that his love for Jesus should be a deciding factor in the election?  Not only did it seem kind of gross, I’m convinced it seemed like an enormous "What the fuck?" to a lot of Christians.  You don’t get the benefits of being a Christian just by claiming to go to church; you have to give yourself over to real life change.  Ford wanted the benefits of being a Christian politician without having to publicly explain what kind of real change he’d undergone to separate himself from the ickiness in his past.

Yes, I’m sure that some folks voted against Ford because they were not going to vote for a black man, period.  After all, when folks put so much emphasis on Ford being "from Memphis" I think we all get that "ooo, he’s from a scary city full of black people!  oooo!"

But the truth is that he came very close to winning the seat now held by the Senate Majority Leader.  Very close.   Which means that a number of folks were putting aside their "racialist" tendencies and voting for Ford anyway.  He lost because of his own misstep on the religion thing.  I think it’s as simple as that. 

He ran an almost flawless campaign, which made the one flaw so much more obvious and meaningful.

Sean Braisted would seem to disagree with me slightly.  This, I imagine, comes as a surprise to no one.

23 thoughts on “A Few Words On Harold Ford Jr.

  1. "I like football. I like women. I’m not going to apologize for that." Slipping gals at WKRN his digits? Hanging at the Playboy mansion?Those nights we met in Jackson for the bi-monthly liberal orgy? You were there. Didn’t that mean anything to you? Damn it. I believed you when you said I was the prettiest feminist you knew…

  2. Well put. You can also probably add that it’s possible that at least as many people from Memphis voted for him BECAUSE he was black, and they wouldn’t vote for a white guy. Then again, Jake got slaughtered!To the people I’ve spoken with who had PLANNED to vote on him, the crashing of the press conference killed it for them. Ford REALLY looked bad, and people didn’t like that.On the "bright side", Ophellia won. Go figure. I wonder if she carried the "dead" vote, again? LOL!

  3. I was completely flabbergasted by Ophelia winning again. But as my husband put it, it’s like DC, think Marion Barry.I completely agree with you on this B, Ford did himself a big disservice by trying to play the Christian card and by not "talking about" his family. It was always in the back of everyone’s mind, and I think a lot of people, myself included, pretty much assumed that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He didn’t give us much else to go on.And I think I’m the only person in TN who didn’t see that ad about the Playboy party!

  4. I’ll make a stunning confession. I, rightwinger since birth, seriously considered voting for Ford.I am an optimist. Ford was one of the few candidates who ran an optimistic campaign. He went beyond "Bush Bad! Iraq Bad!", and actually had a few core ideas that were, at their heart, optimistic. Add to that the fact that Corker ran…well, I don’t know what he ran as. To this day, I have no idea what it is he wants to accomplish. He never said.That being said, the thought of the Ford Family controlling a statewide office (and make no mistake, they would) was just too much.Ford lost because of his family. IMHO the religion thing was way down on the list. He could not overcome the shadow of his family.

  5. Your remarks scream, "I’m clueless!" How could anyone question another man’s spirituality and christianity? Even the bible says ye without sin cast the first stone. What kind of skeletons are in your closet? You should not put politicians on a pedistal or see them as being flawless. I really can’t understand why people would even bring up the fact that he attended the Playboy Superbowl party. So what? The guy is young, single, likes football and likes girls! What does that have to do with his ability to represent the state of TN? What Corker did was play the race card and prey on the racist minds of the religiopus hypocrits in the state of TN. These are the same people who sing, "…Oh how I love Jesus on a Sunday" and "…Oh how I hate those niggers on a Monday." Mr. Ford has been in Washington for several years and if we were so fearful of terrorism and war, why send an inexperienced spoon fed millionaire to the Senate opposed to an experienced leader? I’m sure if Mr. Ford wanted to get in the gutter with the Corker campaign, you would have observed much more dirt on Corker. But Jesus died for past, present and future sins. But we have people that love to judge others. What a shame! Only God can judge man. Your comments are typical of backwards, country people who are obviously low-educated and unaware of the facts and issues this country faces. Now, the real reason Mr. Ford lost the Senate race is because he spent the final 2 weeks of the campaign defending his family, his record and his beliefs instead of spending the time running against his real opponent, George W. Bush!! If Mr. Ford had spent more time discussing the current status of our country, the war, and Bush’s unpoporlarity, he would have won the Senate seat. Corker had no agenda; so the issues should have been to discuss the Republicans inability to govern effectively and our sons and daughters stuck in an unwinnable war.

  6. ‘To the people I’ve spoken with who had PLANNED to vote on him, the crashing of the press conference killed it for them. Ford REALLY looked bad, and people didn’t like that.’I think that was a defining moment in Ford’s campaign. I have to admit, I didn’t much like either candidate and up until that point, I hadn’t chosen who I’d cast a vote for. I think Ford’s behavior reminded voters where he’s from, or perhaps more specifically….who he’s from.

  7. "Corker ran…well, I don’t know what he ran as. To this day, I have no idea what it is he wants to accomplish. He never said."Corker is so … I dunno, I guess the word I want is vacuous. Maybe vapid? No ideas, no (immediately evident) talents, no traction. I’m afraid that as a senator, he will be really forgettable.

  8. Just another example of voters having to decide which is the lesser of the two evils. Sadly, I think that’s what most of the races have been reduced to.

  9. My parents were going to vote for Ford and I don’t know if they ultimately did or not, but I do know that after he crashed the press conference, my mom was so put out that she said she was switching to Corker. I think that misstep had at least as much to do with his losing votes as the church thing. Which I agree was just icky.

  10. Yeah, I’ll admit, I hadn’t really figured in the press conference crashing, but I do think it goes back to the people of Tennessee needing some way to figure out if Ford is a "good man" and him side-stepping that issue. "Good men" don’t crash their opponent’s press conferences.But still, even though I stand by my analysis, I agree with y’all that the facet of the press conference crashing belongs front and center in the discussion as well.

  11. B, for what it’s worth, I didn’t even know about the church stuff. I haven’t heard that discussed much around me, either. NOT saying it didn’t affect things, mind you. I think it probably had more affect on non-Christians looking to find hipocrisy than on Christians who were put-off. GUT FEELING, mind you.

  12. But Ed, I’m not saying it was hypocrisy in the least. I’m saying it was a fundimental misunderstanding about what people wanted from him. People wanted to know that he was going to be different than his family–what I’m calling a "good man"–and he thought, I think, that he could answer that concern by making his Christianity obvious.That doesn’t make him a hypocrite. It makes him someone who misunderstood what people’s concerns were about him, or at least misunderstood how best to address those concerns.

  13. There are plenty of people who give thanks to the Lord on Sunday after having hit mad skins on Saturday. Just listen to the winners at any rap music awards show.Thing is, 1/3 of evangelical Christians jumped the GOP ship this time around. That’s big. Scandals had something to do with it, sure. Still . . .Whether or not Jr subscribed to the principles of being a good Southern Christian may be debatable. I have no reason to believe him saying that the church played a big role in his upbringing was false. The pointing upward at the end of the debate in Nashville came off a little too P.Diddy, but if it was a play, it was the right one.We’ll always have Jackson.

  14. " I’m convinced it seemed like an enormous "What the fuck?" to a lot of Christians. "This one thought so. Mr. Etchison…that Bible you quoted ALSO says that we Christians are known by our fruits–our actions. Ford’s actions don’t exactly bespeak a living life-change through Christ. Didn’t matter to me. I voted agin’ him for the same reasons Slarti mentioned. Having the Ford family attain that much power over the entire state makes my skin crawl.

  15. Ford’s a freakin’ politician,what the hell do you expect.We need more people with guts enuff to confront some SOB when he slanders your family [family is important],in a press conference or whatever.If it had been me,I would have tried some of The Honorable "Tatoo" Corker on the hoof.But,of course,I’m no Christian!OK,so he stood in a church and said it had influence on him!Ain’t that a shame!Can’t be true,he went to a Super Bowl Party!Guess you would have been impressed if he had stood in jail?Gee,does your predjudice show through?And,he couldn’t parade his smiling Barbie like offspring in front of the cameras,while they sang the praises of DAD,like all good little autotron teenyboppers do [ie.the Bush girls].At least they seemed to be sober.And showing off MOM,shameless!A smiling,adoring mom.Hate to bust your bubble,but my Mom loved me,and sometimes was even proud!I guess the sins of a family really do fall on the Democratic candidate son.The hell with being innocent untill you actually sin.Nah,we know what kind of person he is.We know his family.Who cares about the issues.You’d rather vote for a racist?Gotta keep him away from the white women!See ya in church,your holiness!Enjoy!The revolution will come!!!

  16. Che, to whom are you speaking? Because I voted for Ford.And, if you aren’t Christian and I’m not Christian, how the hell are we going to see each other in church?Anyway, considering you helped lead a revolution, I thought you’d be a better communicator. Of course, I also thought you were dead, so what do I know?

  17. I gotta tell ya,in his "I Lost" speech, when he quoted scripture, he didn’t do the regular, "Jesus wept" kinda scripture. He went out on a limb and quote from Ephesians. That made me love him even more. (Christian men like the idea of hanging with Hef’ too.)

  18. <i>Ford’s actions don’t exactly bespeak a living life-change through Christ.</i>How so? He’s not, as far as I’ve heard, seeking meth and man-ass. Cuz if he were, you could be sure we’d’ve heard.And really, what do actions that speak of a "living life-change through Christ" look like? Does it look like doubting another’s professed relationship with Christ as not being "good enough?"I think we Christians do a whole lot of damage to ourselves and each other when we start pulling this sort of crap. It reminds me of women who call themselves feminists, but who have no problem dissing Katie Couric for the wrong eyeliner (yeah, Norah Ephron, I’m talking to you!). It’s silly, it’s counterproductive, and who the hell are you to judge?

  19. "And really, what do actions that speak of a "living life-change through Christ" look like? Does it look like doubting another’s professed relationship with Christ as not being "good enough?"No. It just means that when someone claims to be a Christian and then repeatedly lies I’m left wondering how valid their claim is.

  20. Which, I would point out, again, would not have been an issue if he’d understood that people did not want assurances about his religious beliefs, they wanted assurances that he wasn’t going to be as corrupt as the rest of his political family.

  21. But Ed, I’m not saying it was hypocrisy in the least. I’m saying it was a fundimental misunderstanding about what people wanted from him. —-Gotcha’. Yeah, that could be some of it. If he would have run on a more heavily "liberal" agenda, he MIGHT have won. On the other hand, Tennessee didn’t elect any other glaringly liberal candidates to a major office, either.I don’t know. MAYBE he would have won, but gay marriage, abortion, and reinstating and growing TennCare would have been the kiss of death. What "more liberal" stances do you think he should have taken to ensure a victory? Just curious.

  22. "If he would have run on a more heavily "liberal" agenda, he MIGHT have won. "No. He didn’t even need to do that. I might have even voted for him if he’d stopped telling people that he was a lawyer, started telling people that he was different from the other Fords etc. By the time he started in on Jesus we’d already seen months of the "I never said I was a lawyer" business. If he’d owned up to that ONE single thing, I’d have had more faith in his character.

Comments are closed.