Allow us to say that we are encouraged by news this week concerning two members of Memphis' political Ford family. First, we learned that former 9th District congressman Harold Ford Jr., who has been a regular commentator on the Fox News Channel for more than a year, has — for whatever
reason — changed his venue to MSNBC. The difference between one cable news channel and another is more than casual. It's the difference between night and day — or, to put it more accurately, between right and left.
By now, the major cable channels have sorted themselves out, with CNN occupying the rough middle of the political spectrum, the Murdoch-owned Fox network holding down the right, and MSNBC, a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC, moving to the left in its commentary. Since, to be honest, we shade that way ourselves, we're glad to see our former congressman move to his new digs. Not that we expect him to toe this or that ideological line; it's just that we concur with the sense, expressed nightly by MSNBC stalwart Keith Olbermann, that coverage of news by Fox is so routinely biased and sensationalized as to merit the titles Olbermann would substitute: "Fixed News," or, alternately, "Fox Noise." (We've always been partial to "Faux News" ourselves.)
Since we've made it clear over the last several years that we thought the able and telegenic Ford had risked compromising his Democratic identity by shifts to the political right, we're glad he's somewhat out of temptation's way now. We go so far as to hope, in fact, that the association with Olbermann might rekindle the progressive fires we once thought might be burning within our nimble ex-congressman's breast.
The other news regarding a member of the Ford family is even more gratifying. We have a concern for the welfare of state senator Ophelia Ford that goes way beyond any differences we might have had with her or doubts concerning her appropriateness for the legislative position she holds (having won a special election in 2005 to replace disgraced brother John, a casualty of Tennessee Waltz prosecutions). And we rejoiced to see her back in her legislative seat on Monday, for the first time, basically, in a year. Whatever the nature of the illness that sidelined her and debilitated her to near-skeletal proportions, we are glad to see her determined to fight her way back, and we enjoyed the mock warning she delivered to her colleagues on the Senate floor about hiding their food because she was "hungry."
Eat well, serve well, and be well, Ophelia.
Another Peek at the S.O.B.'s
Not long after we went to press last week, the Memphis City Council voted narrowly to postpone action on a proposed city ordinance on sexually oriented businesses to override the one passed late last year by the Shelby County Commission. As devotees of the First Amendment, we share the doubts expressed by several council members concerning the stringent limitations on expression contained in the county ordinance (though, of course, we too are opposed to the "wickedness" and outright illegalities of which the S.O.B.'s have been accused).
Since, barring an override by the council, the county ordinance is scheduled to be enforced by the end of April, we are grateful for the opportunity given the council for serious further debate.
Barack Obama's speech on race in America today was quite simply the most important speech on the subject since the death of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, 40 years ago next month ...