October 26, 2006

"They're freaking jungle-drums... It's racist -- it tries to conjure up deep, dark African moods. Yeah, it's overtly racial."

I was one of the people who thought that anti-Harold Ford TV ad was meant to stir up racial feelings, but I think the complaints about this new radio ad are ridiculous. There's a complete mismatch between the criticism and the actual drums in the ad.

It's terrible to use racism in politics, but who's doing it more? Are Corker supporters trying to make people feel a racist antagonism toward Ford, or are Ford supporters trying to make people think Corker is a racist? Both things are wrong, and both sides should be careful to avoid even the appearance that they are doing anything like this. But at some point claiming you've perceived racism makes you look dishonest or paranoid... mostly dishonest.

55 comments:

George said...

In-depth article on the Corker/Ford race in today's Wall St. J......

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116181428858603911.html?mod=hps_us_pageone

"Tennessee has one of the lowest African-American populations in the South -- about 16%. Logically, that should put African-American candidates at a disadvantage for statewide office because they can't count on a massive bloc of votes to give them a head start in a statewide election. But political scientists say the reverse may be true: In states with smaller black populations, whites don't feel as threatened and the state isn't as polarized. For instance, African-Americans make up a very high percentage of Mississippi and Alabama -- 36.5% and 26%, respectively -- and black voters tend to vote Democrat while white voters go for Republicans. The "blacker" the state, the larger President Bush's margin of victory in 2004."

Paul Zrimsek said...

If the bunny in the TV ad proved that Corker is a racist, the jungle drums in the radio ad must prove that he's a sexist.

Doyle said...

To be honest, I didn't think the TV ad was obviously racist. The first time I saw it I was more incensed at the "Terrorists need their privacy" line.

But those sure do sound like "jungle drums" in the radio ad.

Elizabeth said...

I saw that "jungle drum" post last night, linked from a liberal blog--I can't remember which--whose author said he thought the claim was ridiculous. That's good. I listened, and it's absurd to call those "jungle drums" or "tom toms" or whatever.

Dirty Harry said...

It's all about Ford turning Corker's commericals into something that will gin up TN's black vote. We're 12 days out and that's what Dems do.

The TV ad was funny. I didn't even think about the black/white thing. It's liberals who are constantly worked up over race and seeing those divisions. I didn't even give it a thought. Stupid controversy -- but it gins up the black vote.

Pogo said...

"jungle drums"?

Do people even say that anymore?

But boy, now that you mention it, Paul Simon is a racist. Music from Africa! Black people in his videos!
And Vangelis? Racist drums in Chariots of Fire!
ABC news theme? Racist.
Star Wars? Racist.
Little Drummer Boy? Racist.

Goesh said...

Many people are going to have trouble hearing those 'throbbing tom toms' to begin with and even more are going to think the Dems are getting hysterical again and trying to stir up the race card. Most people aren't racist. Many will grow even more tired of having racism thrown in their faces yet again. Most will hear the message that Corker is a Tenn. home-boy, nothing more, which I think is what the message was intended for to start with.

Ann Althouse said...

The place that ad is trying to scare you about is not Africa, it's Washington.

Internet Ronin said...

Unless he has completely lost his mind (an unlikely possibility), I sincerely doubt that Harold Ford, Jr. will be associating himself with this particular objection. My guess is that he'd like those folks to shut up and not lose him any more votes.

Henry said...

What Goesh said about the radio ad -- and what Doyle said about the TV ad. My question about both ads is this: If you saw or heard them and didn't know that Ford was African-American, would anything in either ad suggest that to you?

A kettle-drum isn't "jungle music". If you're going to create an ominous mood you sure the heck don't use a snare and piccolo.

Too Many Jims said...

Internet Ronin,

He did mention it (in passing at least) on Imus this morning. I suspect there is a balance that he has to walk between ostracising voters and energizing voters but that is something that many issues force.

Pogo said...

Re: "..not Africa, it's Washington"

Rather, the racism refers to Africans in Washington.

Internet Ronin said...

too many jims -

That's too bad. Talking about it sounds to me like he already knows he can't win. BWDIK?

Paul Zrimsek said...

A kettle-drum isn't "jungle music".

Au contraire, mon frere.

Doyle said...

Excellent find, Paul!

Henry said...

Good one Paul. Kettle drums are white-guy jungle music.

Goesh said...

Henry, I never even spoke to a minority member until I was 19 yrs. old and in the military. I remembering seeing a few Indians but no Asians as a kid and only one time seeing some Blacks on the street near an agricultural college. They were wearing African attire, exchange students. I would be inclined to think of those kettle drums as Native American war drums even though I served in the Peace Corps in Africa and have heard real African drumming on a number of occasions. The Liberal hysteria has only hurt Ford though probably not seriously. I've been around for a long time, been all over and been with all kinds of very divers people and most people are not racists.

Henry said...

Hi Goesh -- I was unclear; I didn't mean to address my question to you (or Doyle) -- I agree with you. I was actually wondering about the thinking of the people who do read racism into the ads. The ads could be run against a white candidate named "Ford" with no edits and equal effect. How does that square with the racist interpretation?

George said...

There's a wonderful line buried at the end of today's NYT piece on Ford.

In rural TN, he travels with a conservative Dem. Congressman who introduces him by saying Ford will never "take away your BIble or your gun, but would raise the minimum wage so people could afford them."

If you have to reassure TN voters that your man will never "take away your BIble or your gun," you have a huge image problem.

It also tells you that TN voters are more concerned with economic issues than race.

(Mort---The link goes to a video about mining...granite....I'd like to see it.....)

Derve said...

My question about both ads is this: If you saw or heard them and didn't know that Ford was African-American, would anything in either ad suggest that to you?
Maybe it depends on the social history in the area where the voter was raised? The tone of this "humor" ad is way off for many places. Even in the day of negative ads.

There's something personal there, I'd catch that, whether I knew anything about the candidate being demeaned. (He is single and dates alot, is that what colorblind or religious viewers are supposed to be seeing?) Something is dark underneath the fun -- whether I picked up on the racial tones or not.


I've been around for a long time, been all over and been with all kinds of very diverse people and most people are not racists.
I agree, with the caveat that people's best intentions can be manipulated by others, as in crowd scenes where people banally "go along" convinced through fear and conditioning not to act independently.

Rather, the racism refers to Africans in Washington.
Did you mean to type "African Americans"?

If you're going to create an ominous mood you sure the heck don't use a snare and piccolo.
lol

dklittl said...

I don't even know why people try. You obviously think that these ads are just some split second decision by a couple of kids in a film room. These ads are tested and considered and reinforced by their imagery and message. I would like to believe that many of you are just naive about the not-so-suttle white women or the drums, but it just proves that many of you just refuse to look at what's staring you in the face when it comes to race in America.

I'll put forth a test, find a negative ad this cycle that has any soundtrack resembling this one and you might just convince me that they mean't nothing by it.

Mortimer Brezny said...

If you have to reassure TN voters that your man will never "take away your BIble or your gun," you have a huge image problem.

That's spin. The only problem Ford really has is the D behind his name, but only if you don't know his record. Corker ads bringing up all these non-issues are meant to muddy Ford's record. Because Corker can't say he's more conservative. Because Corker isn't more conservative. He's less so. This is why the race is close: you have a liberal Republican running against a conservative Democrat.

The Exalted said...

tbh, neither the tv spot nor the radio ad are in the least bit racist-seeming to me

Mortimer Brezny said...

Here's the proper link to the dirty ad:

http://nytimes.feedroom.com/?fr_story=2dcbb97a9b7e20a904b74cc67a58405dc82817e6

Mortimer Brezny said...

If you don't see the pink background and the word GAY in giant letters, with Harold Ford right in the mix of it, you're blind. And, yes, stations have refused to run this ad.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Freeze frame second 14.

Ann Althouse said...

dklittl, I think the ads are carefully made, but the use of music with some drums in it is a very ordinary part of a radio ad.

Ann Althouse said...

Mortimer: I didn't see that as suggesting that Ford was gay, and that was even after I read that people thought that. I forgot about it when I was watching the ad, then saw that was your problem. Sorry, I think it's just one of a bunch of issues. Using pink is a little inflammatory in that it's trying to stir up a fear of gay people, just like using red on the abortion part is trying to remind people of blood. But I think it's the issue, not an insinuation about Ford.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Then why would Ford feel the need to say this?

“You know your opponent is scared when his main opposition against you is, ‘My opponent likes girls.’ ”

-- Harold Ford

George said...

Mort--

I don't want to belabor this, but if the candidate's best friend goes to rural (and I mean rural! Tennessee) and says...

"Vote for Ford. I promise he won't take away your Bible or guns!"

....Mr. Ford has a huge, huge image problem.

It's image that matters, not reality! Who cares about reality! This is politics!

Internet Ronin said...

For God's sake Mortimer, learn how to embed a link without causing the whole thread to become only marginally legible.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Mr. Belaboring An Incorrect Point: Mr. Ford has a huge, huge image problem.

Actually, in that district, the WaPo reported, Ford was months ago at 35 to Corker's 49 and is now 49 to Corker's 39. Those tactics are the tactics of holding Ford's lead over Corker in a very conservative district. The only reason they're having to use them is because of Corker's lying ads. Specifically, the one with the hunter that says, "Ford is right, I have too many guns." Which is utter nonsense.

Mortimer Brezny said...

It's image that matters, not reality! Who cares about reality!

Ah, the real values of Corker supporters. Utter moral relativism. That may explain why Corker employs illegal immigrants.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Here's the repost of my original post without the incorrect link:

No, Ann, dishonest is the new Corker ad that says Harold Ford supports Gay marriage. It has Ford against a bright pink background with the word GAY in giant letters next to him for a while before the word marriage even pops up.

And the basis for the claim that he supports gay marriage is he voted against a jurisdiction stripping measure that would divest federal courts of hearing DOMA claims. Ford could just be anti-jurisdiction-stripping, or he might think that DOMA can stand on its own two feet, or he might think that state courts hearing DOMA claims would be more lenient and it's good to have federal courts reviewing such an important law to make sure gay marriage never becomes a reality.

Corker's people twisted Ford's vote and misrepresented Ford's position on gay marriage (he's against it) just to put a picture of him against a PINK background with the word GAY next to it in a commercial.

One day they suggest he's boffing every white woman in Tennessee, the next they suggest the man is gay.

Corker may not be racist, but he sure is a despicable piece of $%^&.

Just watch the dirty commericial yourself: http://nytimes.feedroom.com/?fr_story=2dcbb97a9b7e20a904b74cc67a58405dc82817e6

11:49 AM, October 26, 2006

Internet Ronin said...

Then why would Ford feel the need to say this?

Because rumors that Ford was gay have been floating around Washington and half the country for years, long before he began this race. I live in California and I heard them 4 or 5 years ago.

(I don't know if he is or isn't, I don't care if he is or isn't, and if I lived in Tennessee, I would vote for him despite your best efforts to annoy.)

Mortimer Brezny said...

Because rumors that Ford was gay have been floating around Washington and half the country for years, long before he began this race.

Only proof that Corker meant to exploit the rumors.

And whether you find me annoying or not is irrelevant. I can't even say I would vote for Ford. But I wouldn't vote for a candidate who attacks his opponent by insinuating he's gay by taking his picture, putting it against a pink background and the word GAY in giant letters.

The bottom-line is that Corker is despicable. That's what I'm reacting to. I'm not some shill for Harold Ford.

Pogo said...

Re: "Did you mean to type "African Americans"?"

No.
Why would you think that?

Cedarford said...

George - In rural TN, he travels with a conservative Dem. Congressman who introduces him by saying Ford will never "take away your BIble or your gun, but would raise the minimum wage so people could afford them."

If you have to reassure TN voters that your man will never "take away your BIble or your gun," you have a huge image problem.


No, that is precisely the message any Centrist Democrat must do running for statewide election outside "The Coasts", and the Lake States - "I'm not with the secular progressive Jews, Hollywood, the gun-grabbing god-loathing Northeasterners!!" I'm one of you, not them.

Conversely, Republicans in the aforementioned states must be RINOs. Look at Linoln Chaffee's race. Every message he does is alond the lines: "I'm not with DeLay, Bush, Bible Belters...none of those guys!! I'm a gay-loving, gun-regulating, war-hating, secular progressive Jewish friendly kinda guy!!"

Harold Ford is a moderate conservative's dream. If he switched parties, the Republicans would roll out a giant welcome mat.

Yes, the TV ad slimed Ford, but in a tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted way. I didn't notice the racial aspect that much...Thought it would have been better if they had a bevy of large chested Playboy Mansion airheads from all ethnicities cooing and giggling. But still, it was funny. My biggest amusement was the NAACP going into high dungeon about the "unacceptable racist content" - yeah, that NAACP. Same ones that have notoriously played the race card in ads they did in other mayoral, congressional, state, and Presidential races (The infamous NAACP Byrd ad of 2000 was the true rock-bottom in slime.) Kettle, meet pot.

Except for the mystery of the Virgin Mary, how the Democratic arm known as "NAACP" maintains it's tax-exempt status is the greatest of mysteries.

I hope we see a return to the Center. Ford is one of the better Democrats out there. And I hope people like him from both parties are the future..

Mortimer Brezny said...

Kettle, meet pot.

I wouldn't ordinarily call this racist, but...

j/k

George said...

Cedarford--

"Harold Ford is a moderate conservative's dream. If he switched parties, the Republicans would roll out a giant welcome mat."

I concede your point; however, rural Tennessee is not a "moderate conservative" area, it is hard core God 'n' Guns region, thus Rep. Ford's problem.

I think the best thing Rep. Ford could do would be to show that he has a sense of humor and response with his own "goofy" TV ad. Such is American politics.....

Mortimer Brezny said...

it is hard core God 'n' Guns region, thus Rep. Ford's problem

Yeah, except you're lying. Ford is more conservative than Corker, which is Corker's problem. If we were talking about Van Hillary or Ed Bryant, maybe, just maybe you'd have a point.

Pogo said...

Man, Mortimer really, really hates Corker, don't he?

Harkonnendog said...

For younger people the idea that the bunny ad is racist is kind of ridiculous. Does anybody under 40 care AT ALL about couples of different races getting together?

And I don't get the dem strategy of crying racism, here. The ad can only be considered racist if its audience is racist. I mean if you aren't racist that ad won't affect you at all. So the dems are basically saying the republicans are using a racist ad to get racists to go to the polls.

Do they really think that is going to compel people to vote democrat? Is insulting your electorate a smart strategy?

George said...

Dear Mortimer--

Ad hominem remarks do nothing to advance your case.

Rep. Ford may well be more conservative than Mr. Corker. What counts in voters minds is not reality but their perception of reality.

Rep. Ford has another problem. He's now no longer running against Mr. Corker. He's running against Tom 'Kingmaker' Ingram, who took over management of the campaign a few weeks ago. Ingram's the man responsible for getting Alexander in the Senate and getting what's-his-name the Navy admiral or CIA chief or whoever-he-is elected to the Senate, too. Talk about image management!

Brando said...

this is one of the very rare instance where i agree with the blogger in chief, ann althouse. there may be drums in that add, but "jungle drums"? that's a stretch.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Rep. Ford may well be more conservative than Mr. Corker. What counts in voters minds is not reality but their perception of reality.

This is why Corker is flooding the media with false ads. Because the only way he can convince people Ford is the less conservative candidate is if he lies. Expect Corker to wait until the last minute to loan himself money and bombard the airwaves. It's what he did to Ed Bryant and Van Hillary -- two real conservatives. He won the Republican primary with lies.

And I do not hate Bob Corker. I hate outright liars and dishonest, closet liberals. Bob Corker happens to be both.

john(lesser) said...

Mort, stay away from bitter tasting foods and/or sharp utensils come the night of November 7.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Ad hominem remarks do nothing to advance your case.

You need to look up the term ad hominem. Calling someone a liar for lying is not an ad hominem fallacy. It is simply not true that Ford has an image problem with voters in TN. Corker is putting out false ads in order to create one because he can't win otherwise. If you don't want to be called a liar, tell the truth.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Lesser,

I'm not a Ford supporter. I vote Republican.

But if you think the Democrats aren't taking the House, you're living in Delusion Land.

Word Verification: arfzz

The sound of late night romps at Ken Mehlman's house after he cruises the gay bar scene in metro DC.

john(lesser) said...

That's super Mort. Too bad you have been crying about a Senate race. BTW, you sound like the "Republicans" that get their letters published in the L.A. Times.

George said...

A sense of humor.

It's all about having a sense of humor.

Especially if you are running for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat in Virginia.

It's almost as if the GOP in TN and VA sequentially timed the TN ad and VA press release for maximum national attention....

JazzBass said...

here's the deal: ford comes from a family machine and the rest of tennessee knows it. he's got no qualifications, as is his brother who is running as an independent against a white jewish guy. the only racists in the tn races are the fords.

corker isn't as conservative as most would like but he's got the chutzpah and the money. he edged out hillary and bryant with smart politicking.

Ford is always defensive. having to assure rural whites he's on your side is something that would be a given if he were truly a god, guns and guts candidate.

the worse they come up with against corker is he's a smart business man and a contracter that corker hired had illegals working for his company.

to say this is racist is just the gamebook the fords play from, that's all. it isn't. like ford jr, there's no there there. so if there is lying on a regular basis, it's harold.

The Exalted said...

ford isnt the one calling it racist, putz.

ShadowFox said...

Ann, read the TPM posts more carefully. The claim is not simply that the radio ad uses drums. There is a distinct thematic shift in the spot--it's drums for Ford and the ethereal, "angelic" music for Corker. There is no mistake.

Also note the description of what happened when two radio hosts were confronted with the ad. It's not paranoia.

And no one is accusing Corker--unlike George Allen--of being a racist. The problem is with his campaign using racist or race-baiting tactics. I can't believe that you could miss that point as an impartial observer.

Given the amount of false claims in Republican negative campaign ads all over the country, including Wisconsin, it should not be surprising that a racist message is easily perceived in the campaing ad against the candidate most likely to become the first Black Southern Senator since Reconstruction.

Personally, I don't care if Corker is racist--the ads don't tell me that. I know he's a thief and that's enough for me. But his campaign ads--both from his own people and form the RNC--are stunningly misleading. No surprise here.

James said...

I finally listened to the ad after having Windows Media Player trouble, and they do not sound like "jungle drums" to me. This reminds me of the great "rats" pseudo-controversy from 2000.

James Kabala