The ad

Apparently, I would make a lousy Southerner. I am — as luck would have it — the only person in America who watched this ad the first time and didn’t take away a message that “Rep. Harold Ford is coming for your white women, Tennessee.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a pretty scuzzy ad, as campaign ads go. But when I first saw it, my thought was that they — the Republicans — were trying to get through to the audience that Harold Ford hangs out with women who are — oh, geez, how do I say it — not the type you bring home to Mom — you know, women who take their clothes off and want to be photographed naked. All to suggest that Harold Ford — in a campaign season where morals has been injected — by the Democrats no less — as a campaign issue — parties hard.

That’s a pretty negative message in the Bible belt.

And then I started reading that this recalls the “Southern strategy.”

The LA Times was the latest newspaper — that I saw — that delved into this angle.

Granted, I’m not the smartest bulb in the pack. I often don’t see the obvious. But other than history, what is it about this ad — exactly — that is not about the candidate’s party habits — as defined by the Republicans, anyway? I know nothing about Harold Ford — and is about race?

Is it that there are no African Americans in the ad?

Reading some of the op-ed pieces and blogs (like Huffington Post), the name I keep coming up with is former Sen. William Cohen, who said the ad “appeals to a racist sentiment.” Cohen is a Republican.

The Guardian doesn’t even bother with the old “alleged’ pass, preferring instead to present the allegation — which again may be true, and may not be:

The advert outraged many because it plays to an old racial/sexual stereotype that still has a powerful resonance in southern states such as Tennessee: accusations of sexual relationships between black men and white women were often used as excuses for lynchings in the Deep South.

The Moderate Voice makes it even murkier:

You don’t have to be p.c. or a liberal to conclude (as many already have as you’ll SEE BELOW): it’s saying to voters “he likes white women.”

What do you mean by “likes,” there, buddy?

Like the Willie Horton ad, this one will be a good vehicle for a discussion of race and politics — after the election.

  • Bob:

    Watch the ad again. The first speaker is African-American.

    And there are several points of slander in the ad that have nothing to do with Ford’s “party habits”. Note the insult to Canada. It even forced Ottawa to ask for Bush’s help in removing the ad (they took offense due to their military commitment in Afghanistan).

    As for the racist angle, I’m not sure what you mean by “other than history”. History is the very reason the ad is controversial. The ad in and of itself is not racist, but that’s not what the Southern Strategy is about. It’s about appealing to racists while not being “racist” yourself.

    Racists hate miscegenation. I even recall some laws against them.

    Oh wait – by some I mean miscegenation was illegal in 16 states until 1967. Including Tennessee. Those laws had to be struck down by the Supreme Court.

    Of course, this was only 39 years ago. Ancient history! Why, I doubt anyone voting on Nov. 7th was even alive back then! History is bunk anyways.

    Bob, the point isn’t that you wouldn’t make a good Southerner. You wouldn’t make a good racist. The content of the ad isn’t offensive to you because you’re not racist.

    FYI: Your comments section seems to be refusing
    tags all of a sudden. Makes longer comments difficult to read.

  • Oh, you too? Then there are two of us in America.

  • Re: the tags. Nevermind. They were only disabled in the preview page.

  • The race thing did not jump out at me immediately, but the two clips of the (presumably nude/topless) woman immediately stood out because they are so incongruous with the rest of the ad.

    I think that, within the context of the race (everyone in TN knows that Harold Ford is black, and the racial issue is probably more fresh in voters’ minds) the ad was trying to play to some people’s racist sentiments.

    I was less convinced about the Corker radio ad that supposedly had “jungle drums” or “tom-toms” in the background.

    If you want to see real racism at work, check out the GOP’s “Fancy Ford” (, I believe) website. The entire website focuses on the Playboy party “issue,” Ford’s relationship with a younger (white) woman, and his “high-class” lifestyle in Washington.