Thursday, August 17, 2006

Black Like Him?

I needed some reading material a few days ago, and I happened to find TIME Magazine in a men’s room stall (I can’t think of any other circumstance under which I would bother to read it, truth be told – Mike Allen’s column didn’t appear in the most recent issue, but luckily, I had plenty of TP on hand already).

So anyway, the issue had a feature article on Harold Ford, Jr., who is running for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee. Based on the little bit I know of him, I think this item from The Huffington Post is pretty typical of Ford; I don’t know what he meant by that dig “fabricating a life’s work” either, and I also don’t understand how a “Democrat” could be in favor of repealing the estate tax, but I guess this is the way you have to run if you’re stuck in the heart of red state territory.

As a sidebar to the Ford article, the magazine also published profiles of other leading African Americans running for high-profile political office, pretty much lumping them all together without really bothering to differentiate between them. They were Kwesi Mfume and Michael Steele (both of Maryland, running for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Democrat Paul Sarbanes), and our own Lynn Swann.

Of this group, Mfume is easily the best candidate for political office. Steele, according to this article, is sounding conciliatory, but waging an uphill Senate battle for a legacy Democratic seat in a blue state requires a bit more imagination than a Repug who merely has to pander to some fellow knuckle draggers to get his or her card punched for six more years of “the show” (see Brownback, Sam, Coburn, Tom, or Inhofe, Jim). Beyond that, it bears repeating that, if you’re a Repug, you take your marching orders from Karl Rove, no matter who you are.

And oh yes – this group also included Kenneth Blackwell (pictured), who is running for governor of Ohio.

Why, surely you remember Kenneth Blackwell, don’t you? The Secretary of State who oversaw the 2004 election, including the contest between Dubya and John Kerry?

Blackwell is the person who decided that absentee ballots were not to be counted unless they were recorded on paper of 80-pound stock (why anyone would use anything beyond 20 is ridiculous, unless they were intentionally trying to suppress the vote of course) until a court order told him to change that decision back to the previous regulation. And as noted in this article, Blackwell also decided that the votes for other politicians on discarded ballots should be counted, but not the votes for the presidential candidates.

As noted in the article, voting districts in Ohio with about 1,200 registered voters, about 70 percent of whom voted that day - or tried to - had to wait in line anywhere from 5 to 12 hours because many precincts only had three or four machines (poorer districts mainly composed of African Americans who vote Democratic, as well as college students who couldn't afford to wait that long between classes - who could afford to wait that long, period?) as well as commuters, whereas districts with lesser populations in the suburbs (you guessed it...with primarily registered Republicans) had comparatively no problems because they had twice as many machines. Also, what do you say to the woman in Ohio who ended up having to wait so long to vote that her husband died at home and she couldn't do anything about it (well, Blackwell...what do you have to say about that?).

Here’s more on Blackwell’s suppression of voter registrants, and his association with this simply charming freeper group called the Council for National Policy (so benign wretched).

Finally, here’s probably the ultimate backgrounder on the 2004 presidential election, including the Ohio farce, from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., reporting for Rolling Stone magazine.

I sincerely hope our corporate media decides to keep in mind going forward the fact that, though these men share a similar skin color, they possess wildly different levels of background and ability, which should be the biggest determinant of their worthiness of higher office than anything else.

Update 8/28: See what happens when you hang with the wrong crowd, Kenny? (hat tip to Atrios)

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