Wednesday, October 25, 2006

RNC Attack Ad

Update 10/27: I have taken the ad down. You can still find it on YouTube. I explain the decision here.

Things are heating up for Sen. seat in Tenn. This ad recently came out paid for by the RNC--Republican National Committee. The Republican Nominee in the race is Bob Corker, former mayor Chattanooga. This ad is over the top to put it mildly. After the Ford campaign and even some Republicans called the ad disgusting, Corker himself has asked the RNC to take the ad down.

Which apparently they won't. Ken Mehlmann, RNC Head, has publicly stated the ad stays. The latest news is a so-far unsubstantiated (as far as I can tell) claim on the unofficial Harold Ford weblog that a member of the RNC works for Corker's staff. Very odd situation all around.

Ford has a comeback ad, if I can find it I'll post it. Ford himself has shown strains from this character attack, and uncharateristically (I think) lost his cool a bit the other day. Ford interrupted a Corker press conference to tell Corker to stop attacks on his family. Ford comes from a political dynasty, of whom a couple have been convicted/plead guilty to corruption.

Ford is running to be the first African American ever elected to the Senate from the South. During Reconstruction, African Americans did hold Senatorial Office but they were nominated form their state legislatures not elected in the way Ford is attempting to do. That he is as close as he is, says something I think about his presence and the changing face of the Upper South.

A typical chorus of racism (white woman, black man) has emerged, although Ford himself has been smart not to get into all that. He simply has said that he sees it as a sign of desperation on the part of the Republicans.

I've spent a lot of time in the South. Cincinnati has a large number of Kentucky migrants--including my grandmother. I have to confess I still can't really grasp race in the South. Tenn recall is Upper South which I think is different even than the Deep South. One observation, not mine but mostly what I've heard from others from there or outsiders who lived in dif. parts of the South--the racism is more overt. Which for some--like a Nigerian fellow I met here in Canada who lived in Alabama for his university--was in a way better. The rules were clear and people quickly figured where to go, where not to go, etc. The implication being that in the North the racism is more covert. The North is supposed to be the place where race doesn't matter, but clearly that just doesn't hold up.

So I don't know what to say about the charges of racism in this ad. Some analysts have wondered whether the RNC is playing the Southern Strategy--the race card among other things.

I have also a suspicion--which I have no proof for, it's just a suspicion given past events--that we may still be seeing the influence of The Architect Karl Rove. Rove, you may recall, during the 2000 Rep. Pres. Nomination process used the race card against his own party's Sen. John McCain. A third party or "independent" rumor (as in the Ford case above) circulated saying that McCain had a black child. Enough said, it was in South Carolina. The black child, in question, was Mcain and his wife's adopted daugher from Mother Theresa's orphanage in Calcutta. McCain being his whole career pro-life, George W. Bush as governor of Texas pro-choice.

Mehlmann is quite close with Rove. On the flip side, White House Press Sec. Tony Snow on Hardball said that if Corker wants the ad off the air, it should come off. Doesn't seem like an official White House position, but that might be evidence against Rove influence. Might not too.

The Rove strategy--if even being applied by another--is to attack the strenghts of the opponent. Attack McCain on his war record--rumors also circulated that McCain was a little crazy, God bless him, from being a POW. Bush of course under a cloud about his whole no-show at National Guard. [If anyone wonders why I bring that up, it is because I think John McCain should have been president for the last 8 years over Bush, Gore, and Kerry, but that his time is now probably past. I think that South Carolina primary has hurt our country immensely]

Ford has done remarkably well among rural whites and more so urban Tenn. whites. Attack the opponents strength to cover your candidates weakness--Corker does not seem to have much cross-racial appeal. In that sense the strategy is Rove-ian. Now every times this happens I think people are too smart to fall for this. And so far--2000, 2002, 2004--I've been wrong. Actually with Rove and Bush it goes back even further.

2006 could be the final punch to the Rove strategy of a permanent Republican majority centered on playing to the base. The House is lost to the Republicans. That is why they are focusing their efforts on Tenn. The Senate is still up for grabs--this race probably being the closest.


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