Tuesday, October 24, 2006


National Ignorance on who Harold Ford, Jr. Really is, and Why Race is a Factor in the Eyes of Racists

There's an interesting rebuttal over at Instapundit. Last week, Professor Reynolds revealed that he voted for Bob Corker during early voting. Andrew Sullivan then criticized Reynolds, saying that he should have voted for Harold Ford, Jr., who was the candidate most aligned with libertarian thinking.

Professor Reynolds has responded with a "what the heck?" rebuttal that shows that Sullivan doesn't know much about the REAL Harold Ford, Jr. - you know, the one who actually has a voting record, as compared to the one Sullivan knows by what the national media feeds him.

I greatly respect both Reynolds and Sullivan, but this disconnect between those of us who live in Tennessee and follow the races here and those who do not and are only part-timers at best is real. I experienced it this weekend when being interviewed by national reporters at the UT/Bama game. They didn't know jack about what was going on in this race except the popular notions - that a black, young Democrat who makes Barry Goldwater look like a liberal was running for Senate in a red state against some guy who conservatives didn't prefer. Heck, some of them thought that conservatives were flocking to Ford's campaign in droves.

The level of their ignorance was astounding. I guess that's why I was mobbed when the word "blogger" was mentioned, because it was assumed that I had a better idea of what was going on than anyone but the campaign staff.

This was also evident in some of the news broadcasts I watched last night. (Yes, I did watch a bit of CNN last night, but it was for research, folks.) People outside of this state don't know ANYTHING about this race. They don't know ANYTHING about Harold Ford, Jr. They don't seem to know who the Republican in the race even is.

There are several theories of why this is. One could be the liberal media. However, I think it has more to do with race than anything else. You could see this in the CNN report last night, where they were talking about this RNC ad:

Debate the effectiveness or the lack of class surrounding the ad all you want. What I don't get are the alleged racial overtones of the ad. In fact, I'll go this far:

The only person who would think that this is a racist ad would be a racist.

Heck, Sean Braisted even agrees with me on this one. (And for those keeping track, that might be the first area of agreement ever between the two of us.)

I guess it's because I have been familiar with Harold Ford since before he was elected that I have an advantage over some non-Tennesseans who see him as a black man. I see Harold Ford, Jr., as a powerful political rival. I always have. I knew that he would be a figure that would run well before this state became more conservative. I just don't see Harold as a black man. I see him as a man - period.

I know that I am in the minority here. But, folks, until we stop seeing race as a qualifier of a person, racial strife is always going to exist.

Now that I've gone down that rabbit trail, back to what I was writing about. Be careful about how much credence you give the national media regarding our race here in Tennessee. Heck, be careful about other states' races, too. They are doing a poor job in covering these races because they don't know what is going on on a daily basis in the states. The national media's inadequacy has been magnified by the rise of the blogs, for sure. That's why they interview bloggers, as a way of catching up on what has been going on in each race.

Finally, I have to agree with Professor Reynolds - I'll be a bit skeptical about Andrew Sullivan's political commentary from now on.

The Statesman vs. The Orator
Plato on Political Debate

The issue is the same. Whether in Plato’s dialogue Gorgias where Socrates and Callicles debate the question of “justice in the state”, or whether in political debate where Rick Santorum and Bob Casey argue the question of “truth in the state” about Iraq (pick your own Senatorial election debate). What is different, however, between fifth century B.C. and contemporary America is “judgment” about the issue. Modern day politics needs an infusion of Platonic insight to understand the difference between "statesmanship" and "oratory." The former represents “justice in the state” while the latter represents “flattery and injustice.” The former seeks what is good while the latter seeks what is pleasant and gratifying.

In any political debate, one candidate may be the statesman and the other candidate the orator. According to Plato, the difference between truth and persuasion is what determines justice in the state. The orator’s “ability to persuade” is a “knack” under Plato’s analysis. Rather than a statesmanlike “craft” which seeks the good of the object, such as a doctor who prescribes medicine for the patient’s well-being, the orator has a “knack” for persuasion which seeks his own private good. As Socrates says to Callicles, “oratory is a producer of conviction-persuasion and not of teaching-persuasion concerning what’s just and unjust.” The statesman may not have a “knack” for argument, rhetoric, or sophistry, but he seeks justice, while the sophist seeks a persuasion Socrates equates to cosmetics, something apparently good for the body. The statesman’s gymnastics about Iraq, what is really good for the body politic, contrasts with the orator’s artificial cosmetics. What cosmetics is to gymnastics, oratory is to justice. One is true, the other false. One is about seeking justice in politics no matter what public opinion says, the other is about seeking power through persuasion and flattery.

When witnessing the next political debate, decide who is the statesman and who is the orator and vote accordingly.

Joanne Tetlow, J.D., Ph.D.
Politikon Zoon
Don't you know that "racism!" is the first defense of every candidate of color to just about any criticism? And why shouldn't they? It has worked wonders in the past. Your opponent spends precious days trying to scrape that mud off of their reputation, while you get to play the aggrevied party!

Every minute your opponent spends trying to rebut the charge of racism is a minute that he isn't talking about something that matters to voters. Every minute you opponent spends talking about race, period!, is another minute he spends in the worst quagmire in the American political landscape. And the chance constantly grows that he/she will say something else that can be spun as "insensitive," or racist.
"I just don't see Harold as a black man. I see him as a man - period.

I know that I am in the minority here.

You know that you in the minority. Maybe you were not specifically speaking in reference to the immediately preceding statement, but that was how it appeared to me. It seem either the height of arrogance to imagine you are so much more pure of racism then everyone else or defeatistly pessimistic to imagine all the great unwashed as being so mired in a racist mindset.

I am not so dull as to say that race is never a factor in any voter's decission, but I do not belive it is so predominant that most people can't see beyond it to other issues. I have often referred to Memphis as a "big city stuck in a plantation mentality," but even here for most people I know siding with Corker the real issue is not his race but experience (or lack thereof), true stand on the issues (as opposed to the MSM "conservative Democrat" hype) and his family (the idea that gang of thieves would have no influence at all over him is ridiculous on its face).

Let the MSM cast this into their stereotypical "bigotted Southern whites won't vote for the black man" story mold, but you don't need to nod your head to the beat.
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