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Richard M. Benjamin

Richard M. Benjamin

Posted: January 12, 2010 10:27 AM

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Harold Ford presents a formidable challenge to New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the 2010 Democratic primary.

Why? The former Tennessee congressman is a light-skinned African American with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one. This makes him palatable -- extremely attractive, even -- to New York's white voters. Perhaps even Latino and black ones, too.

That noted, I stand behind New York's existing junior senator, Ms. Gillibrand.

Who is Ford kidding? Most Big Apple-dwellers have belonged to our Yoga Studios longer than he's lived in the Empire State (36 months).

More importantly, Ford has a problematic political record that overshadows his facial features, complexion, and speech (all fair and lovely). To wit:

  • As a Congressman, Ford voted in 2005 for the Sensenbrenner bill, which, among other things, would have incarcerated undocumented immigrants -- and all who assisted them -- for at least one year. While many lawmakers sought common-sense and viable reforms to immigration, Ford stooped to the draconian approach of prosecuting immigrants as felons.
  • In 2005, Ford supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and even a ban on benefits for same-sex couples. (Through a spokesperson, Ford now claims to support gay marriage.)
  • Ford also voted on behalf of the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill, which delivered sweeping changes to American bankruptcy laws; the bill made declaring personal bankruptcy remarkably more difficult, cracking down on hardworking Americans, instead of the abusive credit card industry. (That industry spent more than100 million lobbying for the bill.) The bill's supporters sought to squeeze Americans to commit all their disposable income to paying off credit card companies.
  • Ford supported social extremists efforts to intercede in the Terri Schiavo case.


To be sure, Senator Gillibrand has reversed many of her positions -- on gun control, immigration reform, and gay rights. Yet her "policy evolution" is nowhere nearly as dramatic, nonsensical, or cynically timed as Ford's. Gillibrand has changed positions often after consulting constituents, fellow lawmakers, or her conscience.

Her reversals are more like Flex Flops versus Ford's Flip Flops.

So if and when Ford enters the fray, I won't be surprised to see him in a Yankee's jersey, photographed at the Freedom Tower, rapping Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" (without the Negro Dialect.)


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