Congressman Harold Ford Jr, a conservative Blue Dog Democrat has learned a most excellent lesson from his Republican role models in the Bush administration: dont answer to criticism, dismiss all commentary as the reflexive chatter of cyber-cafe society. Saturday, at a unity-themed breakfast for Shelby County Democrats--minutes before that ill-fated event morphed into a pep rally for Fords Senatorial campaign-- the famously pedicured Representative broke away from his awkward stumpafications to acknowledge recent criticism and to hurl a rhetorical, eff you at counterproductive information-jockies who aren't nearly as important as himselvis.
I dont have the luxury to just sit back and write about [the problems facing America], Ford said with the tone of an aristocrat bemoaning the neverending dearth of good cheap help. And if the super-busy, results-oriented, 21st-Century congressman hadnt missed a razor thin vote on the pork-laden, deficit-bloating, generally disastrous if clearly trivial federal budget because he was too busy slurping down coon with Jimmy Naifeh he might be taken seriously. If he hadn't roamed far outside the party mainstream on issues like the Bankruptcy bill, and Terri Schaivo, his arogance might even be tolerated. Stranger still, Ford's declaration of self-importance came at a breakfast honoring Matt Kuhn who, a week earlier, soundly defeated David Cocke, Junior's preferred choice for chairman of the Shelby County Democrats. Kuhn's victory had been considered by many to be, to some degree, a criticism of the Ford faction, and a victory over dynastic rule. And then Kuhn started talking.
"It is so good to see everybody here together," Khun began earnestly enough--and then he turned incomprehensible."Jack Kennedy once said that a rising tide raises all boats. I don't know a whole lot about sailing, but I know something about politics, and I just want to say that the rising tide we need to understand and we need to realize this in Shelby County, the rising tide in next year's election is sending a Democrat from Shelby County to the United State Senate."
WTF? Was Kuhn, who got so much support from the anti-Ford faction, and whose position absolutly demands neutrality really endorsing Junior? Probably not. Abundant cheerleader-like enthusiasm and abundant cheerleader-like dizziness leads to abundant cheerleader-like errors, and Kuhn, jacked up on adrenaline and the jet-powered coffee from Cafe Francisco was clearly talking faster than he could think. He was all wrapped up in "unity" and thanks to some clever Fordites 90% of the room was wearing a blue Ford stickers on their lapels. In other words, Kuhn let himself be played and turned the unity breakfast into a campaign rally. Or maybe he really thinks Junior's the rising tide and is looking to get his dinghy up, it's hard to say this early in a brand new ballgame.
One last note. Some local bloggers have gotten all giddy over Junior's $2500 donation to Shelby County Democrats which was followed by a $2550 donation by A.C. Wharton. C'mon guys. Why would you get excited about a career politician donating to their party? For them it's like dropping a couple of thou into their checking account. Jeez!
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."