Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The last two weeks

I saw this ad on Fox News last night. I didn't see any racism. The NAACP fought for the repeal of miscegenation laws, but now they're making a big deal of this corny ad where a white bimbo tells Harold Ford to "Call me ..." and blows a kiss. Would they be happier if the character were an African American bimbo? She is portraying one of the women present at a Playboy party Mr. Ford attended.

The whole ad is a series of people making comments about Ford's positions and campaigns.

His opponent, Corker, has asked that the ad be withdrawn by the RNC, its sponsor, but they're not doing it. I don't know what they should do. The ad could easily be edited, but it loses its punchline. Besides, this blonde blue-eyed chick might be black "passing for white." Who really cares?

If Ford were a Republican the NAACP would be calling him an "Uncle Tom" or an "Oreo," as they've called Michael Steele in Maryland. They'd be pointing out that he's not really all that black. No racism there, is there?

This kind of sniping over each others' ads is juvenile. There's also a report in the NYTimes today about how Joe Lieberman has used the phrase "stay the course" repeatedly. I suppose this is supposed to drive us screaming from the room. It sounds like something from The Onion. And Mark Kennedy is being jeered for running an ad supporting the War in Iraq.

The Michael Fox ad, in which he might have gone off his meds to dramatize his disease for the cameras, is now a political football. It's Cindy Sheehan all over. Absolute moral authority, or self-pitying schmaltz? Leave the poor guy alone, but it's not beyond the pale to note what he has said about going off his meds to show people the real effects of the disease. That's fine for that purpose, but not to suggest that this is his daily life or that there's nothing besides cloning embryos for stem cells that he can turn to.

I think one reason the Republicans are running so poorly is that they have failed to rally behind the president each other and have been stampeded by the opinion polls. They have lost the understanding of leadership, that sometimes you have to stand up to popular misconceptions and make a case for your policies. There isn't anyone in Congress who seems to have the ability to unify his/her fellows, to step forward and bid them to follow. The Democrats can't agree on an agenda, but they know how to keep their troops in line. they vote as a block and have been able to obstruct quite well. Maybe that's just easier when people don't have anything but resentment to feel passionate about.

I'd like to see somebody at the party level do what Newt Gingrich did for them in 1994, and I'd like to see more Senators and Congressmen stick to their knitting, instead of spending time on junkets and fundraising. That really should be the party's job, to raise money and let the candidates campaign and legislate. Parties do have legitimate reasons for existing. By cutting themselves free from their parties, candidates have had to become money grubbers as well as schmoozers and legal mavens. They also invite more accusations of corruption, and more actual corruption, when they spend a lot of time with lobbyists and potential donors. The answer is not more campaign regulations that limit freedom of speech, but discipline and an effective party fundraising operation and a source of good counsel and advice.


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