Harold Ford, Jr. apparently decided that one of the crucial stops in his New York charm offensive had to be the Colbert Report. The most charitable thing to say about it is that it did not go well. Over the course of the interview segment, Colbert grilled Ford on his flip-flops on abortion rights and gay marriage, before making fun of his now-famous helicopter trip to Staten Island.
"You appear to be willing to change your positions to appeal to a New York audience. How do you respond to that compliment? Because it is a compliment," Colbert said. Ford's response? To compliment Colbert on his Grammy win! This was the moment where I realized, "My God! He is actually going to try to kiss up to a satiric character!"
On substance, Ford went on to maintain that he always strictly upheld a pro-choice stance. But Colbert hit him with statements he'd previously made that attested to a different point of view:
He also boasted of taking home 100% scores from NARAL on occasion, and a lifetime score of 83%. NARAL itself begs to differ:
"Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. today claimed that he is pro-choice and has a cumulative record of voting with NARAL Pro-Choice America 80 percent of the time during his tenure in Congress. NARAL Pro-Choice America tracks every choice-related vote in Congress, but we don't issue cumulative percentages of lawmakers' voting records. What's clear is that Mr. Ford did not have a consistently pro-choice record during his decade in Congress. On some of the most difficult reproductive-rights issues, such as the Bush Federal Abortion Ban and the anti-choice Child Custody Protection Act, Rep. Ford cast anti-choice votes.
What Colbert called a "flip-flop" on gay marriage, Ford characterized as a gradual change of mind and heart that occurred during his "time out of politics," whenever that was.
Ford also explained his helicopter trip to Staten Island as part of a trip he made with the New York City Police Department while he was their ceremonial "Commander For A Day." On that trip, he saw training exercises pertaining to hostage negotiations and Hudson River rescues, and no, I'm sorry, but I HAVEN'T THE SLIGHTEST IDEA WHY IT'S IMPORTANT FOR HAROLD FORD TO KNOW ABOUT THESE THINGS. But it gave him a chance to visit Staten Island and drop the name of Chesley Sullenberger. It's like Pandering Yahtzee!
UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but an especially strange moment of this interview came when he talked about Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thusly:
The young lady I'm looking about running against, Sen. [Kirsten] Gillibrand, who I know and like, she flipped on this and I might add President [Barack] Obama is not in favor of marriage equality.
Odd, considering Kirsten Gillibrand is four years older than Harold Ford, Jr., who I guess wants credit for being a whelp.
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