editorial (2006-44)

Outside Agitators

National political parties and PACs sully this Senate race, insult Tennesseans

MP Endorses:

Outside Agitators

Unwelcome and impertinent intrusions into Tennessee’s U.S. Senate campaign have caused the two candidates and their state to appear ugly in the nation’s eye. Neither Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., the Democrat, nor former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker, the Republican, have been nearly so negative as their national parties have made them out to be in this closely contested election. Ford and Corker both find themselves to be good men in an increasingly bad political world, the victims of desperation for control of the Senate following the Nov. 7 ballot counting.

Radio and television advertising by the Democratic and Republican National Committees and at least one Ohio-based anti-Ford PAC have produced half-truths and outright untruths about the candidates’ political and personal lives. One TV ad in particular, finally removed reluctantly by the RNC, was viewed widely as casting for racist reaction to Ford, an African American, and the result has been widespread, leering media attention from all across the country on this ad, which has been reproduced ad nauseum since it was pulled.

Creators of that despicable ad were Yankees probing for vestiges of racism in a Southern state, hoping to capitalize on emotions they surmise must still reside in the Southern heart. Never mind that the racist anachronism resides as strongly in many northern suburbs and exurbs as in any neighborhood or rural area in Tennessee. They wrongly associate this state with an image of the Old South that persists in some people’s insidious dreams. More than one respected political commentator has called that advertising ploy “slime.”

But beyond that, the mendacious assertions of the outsiders will not be fully addressed or righted before the election, so those who bandy the accusations about will never be properly called to task. The damage will be done to their opponents, not them.

The only way that the electorate, which nearly unanimously condemns political attack ads and mud-slinging, will ever be able to force the assailants’ hands on the issue is by voting them down. In this instance, it is the Republicans who introduced the element of race into the campaign and whose attack was the most despicable.

Should Corker win because the race card was played, he’d have to be ashamed—not of himself, but of the elements in Republican power who initially told him to mind his own business when he asked that the ad be taken off the air.

Dragging up the past to the detriment of a whole state and region should be punishable at the polls. It’s too bad that a vote for Ford and racial acceptance has become a vote against Corker and intolerance, but it’s his party that brought race to the fore, and it’s been reprehensible enough that it should turn the tide in Ford’s favor.

We endorsed Ford anyway, partly because of the general air of negativity expressed in the early weeks of the Corker campaign, but we didn’t realize at the time that we were supporting a basic principle of the 21st century way of American life against one of the worst tenets of the 19th.

MP Endorses:

Constitution Amendment #1 (Marriage) — No

U.S. Senate — Harold Ford, Jr.

U.S. House of Representatives 2nd District — John J. Duncan, Jr.

Tennessee Senate 5th District — Randy McNally

Tennessee Senate 7th District — Tim Burchett

Tennessee House of Representatives 13th District — Harry Tindell

Tennessee House 14th District — Park M. (Parkey) Strader

Tennessee House 15th District — Joe Armstrong

Tennessee House 16th District — Write-in your choice

Tennessee House 17th District — Write-in your choice

Tennessee House 19th District — Harry Brooks

County Charter Amendment

City Charter Amendment