"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Sunday, October 29, 2006

What's Wrong With This Ad?

Harold Ford, Jr., is a Tennessee Democrat running for the United States Senate:

What's wrong with this ad? According to BET, it's racist.

Chris Matthews, a mainstream Democrat if ever there was one, knows it's racist. Talking to White House press secretary Tony Snow, Matthews huffed and puffed in disbelief:
You don't think having a naked woman, cutey-pieing the guy, saying let's get together; you don't think that's, that's, okay, I'm not gonna ask you three times, I'm gonna ask you a second time: You really do believe, Tony Snow, that they're not playing on the white guy vote down there, to try to turn him off -- a working guy who would normally vote democrat -- turn him off to the democratic candidate because you got this black guy goin' after white women.
(Of course, I'm not too sure how far we should trust the judgment of a fellow who doesn't know when he's looking at a naked woman, and when he's not.)

The Democratic National Committee says it's racist.

The Los Angeles Times says you can't miss the "race baiting," using the time-honored device of quoting mostly-unnamed "critics" of the ad.

CBS took this difficult bank shot, in which they permit various folks explain to you that the ad is racist, and then explain that it was produced by a "protégé of White House political guru Karl Rove . . . ." And you know what that means. [Actually, we don't know what that means. We think it means the ad is likely to be spot-on, and effectively call attention to the deficiencies of an opponent. But, to be fair, we think CBS means something else (which they don't explain, of course)]. Please note that while providing a platform for the claim of racism, CBS preserves its technical virginity by referring to the spot only as "controversial."

And, lest you miss the point, Katie Couric's own CBS web site, under cover of a story, "Who Made The Sleaziest Ad?" provides only one example of a "sleazy" spot. Yes, you correctly guessed which one:
The ad produced by the Republican National Committee against Harold Ford in Tennessee may be the sleaziest of the season. That’s hard to say definitively, because we’ve got more than a week to go and desperate candidates will do desperate things to get elected.
Guess whether they explain exactly why it's sleazy? Right again!

So here's the deal: Tennessee Democratic Senatorial candidate Harold Ford, Jr. attended a Playboy sponsored post-game party following the 2005 Super Bowl. Is this a problem? If you want the church ladies to vote for you, you bet it is.

Moreover, being single, wealthy, scion of a powerful family, and without obvious major physical deformities, he has been known to hang out with women. Sometimes younger women, sometimes white women. Is this a problem? Maybe so.

It's not entirely clear to me what's "racist" about this commercial, at least in the usual sense the term is used. Would it have been racist if the scantily-clad young woman had been black, suggesting thereby some sort of race-based bunny segregation? As it is, the ad suggests that Junior has betimes been found in the company of women of dubious virtue: A campaign charge hallowed by time.

What's interesting to us is how far off the mark the experts are. The ever-dense Matthews thinks the problem is white racism. His reasoning would seem to be that there exists some class of voters who would happily vote for a black man for high office, but would recoil from such a candidate if they knew the fellow dated white girls. This seems far-fetched, identifying a demographic that must number in the tens.

What's afoot here is not the risk of driving off white voters scandalized by a black man and a white woman -- what's scary to the Ford campaign is the reaction of black voters to one of their own who might be perceived as thinking black girls aren't good enough for him. In America today we'll wager that there are far more black voters who will run cold on a black politician with a white wife or girlfriend (ask Clarence Thomas), than there are white voters burdened with racism so finely calibrated that it accepts a black candidate, unless he's seen with a white girl on his arm.

The Republicans thought they were producing a sarcastic ad emphasizing the same points everyone has always used when running against Junior. But they seem to have hit a nerve.

Comments on "What's Wrong With This Ad?"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:50 AM) : 

More good work for Karl Rove you racist KKK piece of shit.


Blogger Almost Ignatius J. said ... (1:13 PM) : 

cue anti-democrat pseudosnark (maybe we'll get some Latin if we're lucky) from GF.

seriously though, I personally do not believe that this ad is racist. i completely understand the NAACP's objection to the ad based on 1) the fact that the ONLY black person in the ad is saying “Harold Ford looks nice. Isn’t that enough?” and 2) that it paints a man, who happens to be black, as some sort of sexual deviant in relation to his constituency (porn $$, playboy bunny) - which could be said to play the race card.

the second point, in particular, is a subtle distinction from the black man with a white woman issue, but an important one.

i have ZERO idea as to where GF gets the idea that the Ford campaign is worried that this ad is scaring off black voters. i also don't know why you're trotting out Clarence Thomas in this situation. how many superstar athletes or entertainers who are beloved by their, presumably black, communities have wives/girlfriends/sig. others who aren't black? of course the entertainer/politician divide is interesting to note.

i think that it would be very interesting if HH or #3 son brought home a black girl (or guy!?). maybe somebody'll live blog the event - then GF could stop hedging the race issue and we could see what he really thinks.

to get back to the point...i don't buy the racist charge against this ad. we must remember, however, that the GOP candidate AND the RNC have both said that the ad was in bad taste and went on the record that it should have been pulled. it has now been "rotated" out.


Blogger Gentleman Farmer said ... (3:10 PM) : 

I must have missed the "race issue" that I'm hedging.

To the extent the ad has any racial content (intended or not intended), it is not in the context of white racism, but plays on black racism. Which, you may recall, cannot exist.

The NAACP objection is typical nonsense: EVERY person in the ad is saying something stupid. In fifth grade, Miss Shields referred to this rhetorical technique as irony. Accordingly, each speaker is portrayed as hopelessly dumb. If all of the speakers had been white, would I be justified in claiming it portrays whites as stupid? Or would that be racist because it suggests that only whites are voting for Junior?

The ad portrays all folks who would vote for Junior as gullible and dumb, whether black, white, or cute.

Personally, I'd much prefer Harold Ford, Jr., in the United States Senate than, for example, Ned Lamont. And that boy is really white.


Blogger Almost Ignatius J. said ... (3:21 PM) : 

but all whites ARE stupid!


Blogger Almost Ignatius J. said ... (1:12 AM) : 

This, is more like it.


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