Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Have You Smeared A Ford Lately?

It's interesting that, in a Republican ad where Rep. Harold Ford is accused of being easy on terrorists, supporting higher taxes and taking money from "porn movie producers", the main focus of ad critics is that it is racist.

Well, I report, you decide:

By the way, this part of the story doesn't make sense:

"I won't even entertain the premise" that the ad is racially offensive, said Danny Diaz, a Republican Party spokesman. He said the allegation was "not fair and not serious and not accurate."

Diaz said the ad was an "independent expenditure" produced by an arm of the Republican National Committee that is legally prohibited from coordinating with Mehlman. Because of this, Diaz said, Mehlman did not see or approve the ad before its release.
The ad can be an "independent expenditure" produced by the Republican National Committee that would be prohibited from coordinating with Ford's opponent, Bob Corker or it could be produced by another GOP committee (the National Republican Senatorial Committee, for example).

But it is impossible for one "arm of the" RNC to produce an ad that Mehlman would not be able to view or approve of ahead of time. He might not have seen it, but there is no legal prohibition blocking the chairman of the RNC from approving an ad produced by the RNC.

UPDATE: Chairman Mehlman continues the idea that he has no control of the Ford ad. Again, coordination rules -- as I understand them -- control coordination between a committee and an individual campaign, not within a committee itself.

UPDATE II: The people writing in to Josh Marshall seem to read campaign finance law the same way I do.

UPDATE III: Adding here something I put in the Comments section. The racial angle definitely is a factor, but I'm not sure if that is the main point. What I think this does is also work into the fact that Ford is young, handsome -- and single. It is portraying him as a "playa" -- and unserious for the role of senator. The fact that he is black is a "bonus." Ironically, I think the most racially offensive line in the ad is not the one with blonde bimbo, but the one at the beginning with the black woman who says that he "looks good on TV -- isn't that enough." It suggests that the black woman is taken in by his good looks as well -- and doesn't think about politics seriously. Her view is then counterpointed by all the others (predominantly white) who dramatize Ford's position as worthy of mockery. Again, the idea is to play as much to his youth and unmarried status as it is to his race.

By the way, objectively speaking, it is also a devastatingly effective ad. You can tell because when an ad's target's supporters start complaining about how "unfair" an ad is, they are off their own message. Note the Swift Boat campaign and what it did to John Kerry.

UPDATE IV: An interesting analysis of the non-movement in this race by the Survey USA polling group. According to these guys, it may come down to the black vote.

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