Over the years, we’ve had our complaints about some positions by U.S. Rep. Harold Ford, but if there are any lingering doubts about who to vote for in this year’s Senate race, they should end with the most recent ad by the National Republican Committee.
And it’s rare for us to even comment on campaigns, because our primary interest is policy, not politics, but at this point, to us, a vote for Congressman Ford has become quite simply a vote for common decency and repudiation of slick racism delivered in a recent ad.
At a time when we thought it was impossible to imagine that the Republican Party could go too far in its hysterical quest to hold onto the Senate, the RNC managed to show just how despicable it can be.
We now know with complete certainty that there’s no fear that’s too out of bounds to manipulate, there’s no innuendo too crass to whisper, and now, we know, there’s no racism too tempting to exercise.
That became clear in the RNC’s most recent advertisement. In it, the Republican strategists show no hesitation in summoning up the ghosts of Southern racism in hopes of appealing to the Klan mentality that shudders at the thought of a white woman defiled by the wandering eyes of a black man.
And yet, that’s the message of the most recent “I met Harold at the Playboy Party” ad inflicted on Tennesseans by the Republican National Committee. The blonde woman – who hardly measures up to the standards for a job at Hooter’s much less the Playboy Club – ends the ad suggestively, “Harold, call me.”
Anyone with even a moderate level of emotional intelligence gets it.
It’s all about black men and white women. Emmett Till was killed 51 years ago for whistling at a white woman in the Mississippi Delta, and apparently, we’re to get the message that Rep. Ford deserves a political lynching, because we know that he’s been cavorting with white women at a Playboy Club (only inside-the-beltway thinking could imagine the club as anything as a meaningless anachronism of another time).
Strom, Where Are Ye
Where is Strom Thurmond when his party needs him? Even under the influence of three years of embalming fluid, a smile must be flickering across his face.
The real merit of a person or an organization is measured when under the greatest stress. It’s always a unfailing indication of their real character. With this ad, the Republican Party delivers prima facie evidence of how bankrupt it is, morally and politically, and how it will do absolutely anything for power.
In the wake of this ad, we think of Joseph Welch, counsel for the Army, who finally faced down the demagoguery of Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy with the words: “Until this moment, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness…You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of dencency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
We are convinced now that we have the answer from the Republican National Committee. As for former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker, he sullies his reputation by leaving it up to surrogates to distance him from the ad’s vile content. Of course, the cynical among us see it as a “two-fer” for Mr. Corker – he gets credit for criticizing the ads while benefiting from the racism that it delivers relentlessly to our living rooms.
And yet, there is nothing in Mr. Corker’s past that indicates that he agrees with this kind of racist campaigning. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, if he is elected senator, he’ll need to be sandblasted to get the racial slime that’s attached to him as a result of this campaign. And that’s unfortunate for him as well as Tennessee.
Sometimes, we have to take a stand for our own values and our sense of morality. We hope this isn’t a battle for his political soul that Mr. Corker loses.
This advertisement appeals to the basest nature of our Southern culture, and all of us should condemn it. And it gets most effectively delivered in a message on Election Day to the Republican National Committee that we’ve simply and completely had enough.