Harold Ford's New York State of Mind

03/21/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dear Friends of New York,

Harold E. Ford Jr.? WTF, Empire State, have you no self-respect? The Gentleman from Tennessee has opposed the right of cities to ban handguns, gays to marry, women to end unwanted pregnancies and immigrants to become citizens. Ford claims to have changed his opinion on most of these issues, in what is perhaps an effort to imitate upstate chameleon Senator Kirsten Gillibrand so that voters will confuse the two candidates on Election Day. But this not-so-old campaign commercial in which he derides "illegals" and embraces the Patriot Act is pure if accidental cinematic brilliance--and quite damning. (Brave New Films' mashup is predictably hyperbolic, but nevertheless entertaining and accurate)

Perhaps Ford anticipated the irony of opposing immigrant rights while suggesting that he is qualified to represent a state he has lived in for just three years? The man still has a Tennessee driver's license and has yet to vote in a New York election. Presumably, having his name on the ballot will be incentive enough to re-register. Gillibrand is sadly impotent on this issue since her predecessor carpetbagged her way into the seat nine short years ago. Perhaps he is paying an oblique compliment to then-Senator Clinton through his past support for the Iraq War and Patriot Act?

Ford, currently chairman of the corporate-friendly Democratic Leadership Council, came to New York for a job at Bank of America-owned Merrill Lynch and to pontificate on Morning Joe. Perhaps this explains his tone-deafness vis-à-vis Democratic primary voters in criticizing Gillibrand for supporting health care reform and opposing the Wall Street bailout. But rest assured that he clearly identifies with the everyday New Yorker when it comes to the things that matter: according to the New York Times, he rides the subway infrequently and says that he has only visited all five boroughs thanks to a helicopter ride he took with police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. He usually eats breakfast at the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue and "receives regular pedicures."

I know that you all are comfortable buying a World Series victory (sorry, I do live in Philly), but can any rich person just move to New York and win elected office? How many of New York's elected officials does Wall Street get to control? The answer from the DLC and Mayor Bloomberg is a succinct "more."

I'm not excited about Gillibrand either, and would love to see a formidable progressive challenge in the Democratic primary. But the very fact that Ford even thinks he stands a shot in New York is an insult to the intelligence of every last resident, Democrats in particular.

True, you guys are no stranger to political freaks: but for all of his feeble arrogance and caprice, Giuliani is truly a New Yorker. For our part, erstwhile Pennsylvania Senator and rabid homophobe Rick Santorum (of Savage Love fame) is one of the worst human beings alive, but he's undeniably a local. You all should be embarrassed that Ford is even being taken seriously, lest "New York state of mind" become synonymous with pushover electorate.

Daniel Denvir
Philadelphia, PA