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Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Times Pimps Harold Ford, Jr.

They're trying to sell him as perhaps representing the keystone to the Democrats' chance to retake the Senate, which is still a longshot at best. Most of the article is boilerplate, although this anecdote raised an eyebrow:

And Mr. Ford, a five-term congressman from Memphis, rouses his audiences, white and black, with little parables of political possibility: How he was driving back to Memphis one day on the campaign trail, fired up after a meeting at a church, and decided to stop and shake hands at a bar and grill called the Little Rebel. How he looked with some trepidation at the Confederate flag outside and the parking lot filled with pickup trucks, covered with bumper stickers for President Bush and the National Rifle Association.

And how he was greeted, when he walked through the door, by a woman at the bar who gave him a huge hug. "And she said, 'Baby, we've been waiting to see you.'"

Gee, you mean those folks with Confederate flags and Bush bumper stickers might not be a bunch of ignorant racists? Who would have dreamed we'd read this in the Times?

But they step over the line into outright boosterism here:

In the tradition of other Southern Democrats who prospered in conservative times, Mr. Ford presents himself as a pro-growth, centrist, fiscal hawk.

He voted for the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq (he has also called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld), for a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage and for the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. NARAL Pro-Choice America considers him "mixed choice" on abortion; the National Rifle Association gave him a grade of C in the 2004 election. He also backs a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget.

One of those things is not like the other; one of those things just doesn't belong. In the middle of paragraph detailing Ford's "pro-growth, centrist fiscal hawk" positions, the writer (Robin Toner) throws in the bit about calling for the resignation of Rumsfeld. Why? Because she knows that Ford's vote in favor of the Iraq War is a huge turnoff for the paper's liberal readers. Sensing that she's perhaps gone too far in establishing his centrist credits, she tosses a bone to the partisans who are wondering why they should support somebody who voted for the war.
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