Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Harold Ford, Jr.

Here's a Time piece on Tennessee congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (Link via Andrew Sullivan.)

Ford is a sensible, thoughtful, politician. Not only does he have the constituent-services base totally covered -- okay, there had to be some good things to learn from his father -- he's economically progressive but thoroughly committed to the national interest in matters international and defense. He's somewhat socially conservative, but not, to my knowledge, any kind of homo hater or supporter of restricting abortion access.

Unfortunately, Ford gets denigration from lots of sides. The article describes some of the negative ways the Congressional Black Caucus has treated him. And while Ford gets a good collection of press clippings from Washington-based columnists, he still has to deal with Trent-Lott style entrenched racisim among not only white Republicans voters in Tennessee, but also those of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

I recently argued with my brother back in Tennessee that Ford would've made a much better nominee to run against Lamar Alexander for U. S. Senate than do-nothing previous-statewide-loser Bob Clement, but my brother (in small-town middle Tennessee) assured me that there were still too many white folk in Tennessee who would never vote for a black man, even if his politics were substantially to the right, not just centrist like Fords. I'm not sure I buy the conclusion of that analysis -- if I had been kingmaker, I'd've still run Ford -- but the very fact that the analysis can be given serious consideration indicates that there are still problems unrelated to policy or even personality -- that is, problems related to race -- to overcome for politicians like Ford.

On the downside, he has an uncle, Tennessee state senator John Ford, who is a complete yahoo and total whacko.