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Is Harold Ford Jr. a self-serving Democrat or a Republican Trojan Horse?

Who really holds the golden, diamond-crusted key to Harold Ford’s chastity belt? The Congressman’s loyalties have been the subject of recent debate, and now a celebratory email from GOP sources at the RNC puts Ford’s weeble-esque behavior in a decidedly unflattering spotlight.

The e-mail contains a single quotation:

“The Democrats are going to have to get a better message on Social Security. Our only response cannot be to say, ‘No.’”--Harold Ford Jr. 2/3/05

And the RNC boys aren’t the only Bushies using Ford like a hand puppet. Here’s Rush Limbaugh on the subject:

"I don't believe that all the Democrats are unified against this. I know that's not the case. There are some Democrats who want to consider this. Harold Ford is one...."

Donald Luskin, writing for the National Review Online used Ford’s race, and his generally pro-privatization stance to obliquely suggest that economist, and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is a bigot.

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

Wittingly or un, Ford has become a useful, even enthusiastic tool of the GOP: a Blue Dog climber looking to score a Senate seat in his increasingly red state.

It hasn't always been the case, but as recently as the Inauguration it looked like Congressman Ford was growing a spine and standing tough with his fellow Democrats in opposition to President Bush’s plans for privatization.


U.S. Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., said he thought the president "gave a strong [inaugural] speech. ... I just hope that he's able to bring meaning and light to what he preached about today."

But he said the president will find "serious disagreement on his plans to privatize Social Security."

"I just don't believe that's the answer," Rep. Ford said, noting there are other actions that can be taken to extend the program's solvency.

That certainly sounds like a resounding, “No.” And it sounds nothing at all like the pro-privatization speech Ford delivered in March, 2004.

***BUT WAIT! Just to prove he’s a Democrat, Ford lubricated his Elephantine position on Social Security with a dab of liberal snake oil***

I dream of the day when a little girl living in a public housing community in my district can come home, and flip on the TV, and know when she sees a FedEx commercial, that not only does FedEx employ the most people in her district, but that she also owns stock in companies like FedEx, and she has a financial stake in how well the company’s doing. That she will know the harder she works, the more likely she’ll have something to own -- to be able to point to a part of America that is hers, and not just lean on America to give her something.

Is this a wholesale endorsement of partial privatization? You betcha. It’s also an unflinching confession that Ford’s not functioning in a bi-partisan capacity, but rather as a de-facto Republican. How else does he find himself on “the opposite side of other folks in [his] party“? After all, Maverick behavior hardly reflects a true spirit of bi-partisanship.

There is even more evidence of contemporary Republicanism in Ford’s 2004 comments. “Many in my generation will tell you they’re not expecting to be able to rely on Social Security,” he said, taking on the role of fear monger.

Since 9/11 terror has been the standard currency of the American Right who have used fear and paranoia to promote the most radical portions of an already radicalized agenda. It’s a pity to see Ford embracing their cynical, and sinister tactics. Even when he tried to look progressive, touting ownership and empowerment, he came off sounding like an Orwellian villain. Who owns who in a world where rhetorical ghetto girls make decisions based on what is and isn’t good for FedEx?

It’s one thing for a politician like Ford to stick his finger in the air to find out which way the wind is blowing. But you can’t be a leader until that finger comes down and points in one direction or another.

So what’s it going to be Congressman? Are you going to be a leader? Or are you going to let the Right use you like a bitch?

I’m 33 years old, and many in my generation will tell you they’re not expecting to be able to rely on Social Security. Let’s assume for one moment that Congress is able to work some magic, bring the budget back into balance, and jobs start to really expand. That’s a big “if,” but let’s assume we can improve the budget enough that we can begin to address this program [Social Security]. I’m one who believes that there are a couple of tenets that we should follow, which sometimes put me on the opposite side of other folks in my party. I think we can boost the national savings rate with some kind of personal accounts.

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