Ford Recall? Pundits Pan Ford Interview With New York Times and Declare Candidacy for Senate DOA

Many of us scratched our heads when Harold Ford Jr. announced that he was going to run for the Senate in New York. Of course, Hillary Clinton did the same thing when she decided to instantly become a New Yorker (as did Bobby Kennedy). However, neither Clinton nor Kennedy ever had an interview like the one Ford gave to the New York Times. Peter Beinart of the Daily Beast called it a case of a Ford “imploding” while the Gawker called it a case where the Times stood by and allowed Ford to “destroy himself.” Not since Sarah Palin has an interview gone so bad with the pundits.

After seeing these reviews, I had to read the interview like watching the news for a car crash at Nascar. I was frankly surprised because my brief encounters with Ford always left an impression of a very sophisticated, very clever, and very polished politician. He has had a distinguished career and education. He is an graduate from University of Pennsylvania and Michigan Law School. He is also married to a public relations expert, Emily Threlkeld, who works for Carolina Herrera in New York. Yet, despite his obvious talents and intellect, the interview is positively Palinesque.

In his defense, one can say that he is refreshingly honest. He does not try to hide a rather high lifestyle or aversion to public transportation — something shared by his possible opponents but rarely acknowledged.

The last Ford to have such early reviews was recalled when the Pinto showed a habit of exploding into flames when it hit small squirrels. In this case, Ford had a sit down with Michael Barbaro and seemed to burst into flames. Of course, the question is how he will play to the voters, but many are saying that this interview has ended the Senate bid before it truly began.

From a legal perspective, it was reassuring that ,while he was once staunchly “pro-life” and anti-same sex marriage, he is now “pro-choice” and for same-sex marriage because of what he calls (on the marriage question) “maturation.” Previously, he stated that he was against gay marriage because of his faith in God. While I agree with his current positions, crossing the state line seems to have had a truly transformative effect on Ford.

Ford goes on to describe visiting the boroughs of New York by helicopter, getting regular manicures, eating at the most expensive restaurants, and never taking the subway or taxis in preference for town cars sent by NBC. Not exactly Lincoln’s log cabin story, but perhaps it is the closest New York version.

Beinart noted that halfway through the interview “one assumes, Ford’s flak is lying dead on the floor, having impaled himself with his BlackBerry.”

That was one of the gentler comments. Of course, Ford is not running for the pundit vote, but he may want to drop the “I’m the most manicured man in this race” line before the primary.

What I find fascinating is the general view that this interview is enough to effectively end Ford’s run before it truly began. Can a single interview have such an effect? What do you think?

For the interview, click here.

19 thoughts on “Ford Recall? Pundits Pan Ford Interview With New York Times and Declare Candidacy for Senate DOA”

  1. Brown is pro torture. He is for water boarding. I do not think that is liberal.It looks like he could very well win.

  2. Byron,

    How conservative or liberal a politician may be is in the eyes of the beholder. I look at a candidate’s positions on particular issues.

    Mitt Romney held some liberal positions–until he decided to run for president. Then he did an about-face on a number of political issues.

  3. Swarthmore mom:

    “Elaine Many polls show the right wing republican is leading in many polls in your state? It looks looks bdaman’s folks could win. What do you think?”

    He is just marginally a conservative so I wouldn’t worry to much, in fact I think he is more liberal than Harold Ford, Jr.. He wont be as liberal as Ted Kennedy but I have more to worry about than you do with his election.

  4. The Boston Herald is a tabloid.

    So is the National Inquirer but that didn’t stop the John Edwards story from being true.

  5. Elaine and Mike

    The fact that he would take such a “pay cut” shows what stakes he’s playing for. Any of these politicians for that matter.

  6. Elaine, it looks like things are getting hot.

    Listen my children and you shall hear
    Of the midnight ride of Obama Dear. The president is coming, the president is coming.

  7. I disliked Ford when he ran for Senator from Tennessee. I turn off the sound when he appears on news shows. He is a thoroughly reprehensible man and will not fly in NY. I believe he is somewhere to the right of Joe Lieberman.

  8. Brown may be pulling ahead in the polls–but let me say this: Howie Carr is a conservative talk-show host and the Boston Herald is a tabloid.

  9. @Swarthmore mom: Brown will not beat Coakley. She is however an uninspiring and uncharismatic candidate, so it doesn’t surprise me she’s doing so poorly. We need to change elections in the country so voters have more choices, something like an open primary to narrow the field to six candidates, followed by an open general election with Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).

  10. He’s toast. Which unfortunately means he will now be the star attraction on the main stream media’s version of “Real World – American Politics”.

  11. Elaine Many polls show the right wing republican is leading in many polls in your state? It looks looks bdaman’s folks could win. What do you think?

  12. I remember what George Romney’s claim about being “brainwashed” by the military when he visited Vietnam did to his presidential candidacy in the 1960s.

    I’d have to wonder if Harold Ford has changed his position on certain issues because he thinks the switches might get him more votes.


    From Brave New Films: Ann Coulter’s Favorite Democrat

    Harold Ford’s warped understanding of “capitalism” by Glenn Greenwald (Salon, 1/13/2010)

    The incomparably horrific Harold Ford — who sounds ready to challenge incumbent New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in a primary — contradicted himself so egregiously in his cringe-inducing New York Times interview yesterday that it’s hard to know whether one should feel more pity or contempt for him.

    First, there’s this:

    Mr. Ford declined to discuss what he is paid by the bank [Merrill Lynch, of which he is Vice Chairman], but publicly available data suggests that he earns at least $1 million a year. Asked what role outsize pay packages played in fueling the financial crisis, Mr. Ford said he objected to capping executive compensation on Wall Street. “I am a capitalist,” he said. “I believe that people take risk, and there are rewards if they do well;

    But that was preceded by this:

    [Ford] blasted [Gillibrand] . . . for opposing the taxpayer bailout of the financial industry. “It was a mistake,” he said, noting that most Wall Street firms had already paid back the money. “How can you be against ensuring that the lifeblood of your city and of your state survives?”

    So the rugged individualist Harold Ford — who inherited his father’s Congressional seat at the age of 26 — is a self-proclaimed “capitalist” who believes that people “should lose” if they don’t do well: unless, that is, the people who “don’t do well” are his funders and controllers on Wall Street, in which case they should be propped up by the U.S. Government with bailouts and loans and Federal Reserve tricks until such time that they can pay themselves tens of millions of dollars in bonuses, at which point they should be left alone in the name of “free market capitalism” and keeping the Government out of the affairs of industry and away from their “rewards.” What Ford is advocating, of course, is the exact opposite of free market capitalism: it’s risk-free crony “capitalism,” warped corporatism, the essence of decaying emerging-market nations in crisis, in which the coercive power of the Government is harnessed by a corrupt financial elite for its own benefit and at everyone else’s expense, to ensure that people like Harold Ford can maintain their chauffeurs and weekly pedicures and helicopter rides he strangely boasted of enjoying.

  13. After reading the interview it reminds me of the song “Bright Lights, Big City” Written and Performed by Jimmy Reed.


    This has been performed by a number of artists and the first one I remember doing it was Van Morrison off of the album the Story of Them…..

  14. I think I’ll be deriving the bulk of my entertainment from this story not from the fumble itself, but in the coming attempted recovery. I predict a lot of “everyman” ad blitzes and heart touching interviews filled with softball questions gently lobbed at yon pols noggin.

    An exercise in media manipulation.

  15. “New York’s would-be senator admits he gets regular pedicures, avoids the subway, and visits the five boroughs by chopper.”

    The pedicure thing is a neither here nor there controversy,but the feeling you get is,he wants to be the senator but not deal with the day to day that New Yorkers go through.He may want to stick to that day job.

  16. I didn’t read the interview, but I don’t find much excitement for him among the progressives I know nor much support on blog sites like Huffington Post nor, it seems, among New Yorkers (at least in NYC). After the bruising progressives took at the hands of Blue Dog and moderate/conservative Democrats during the healthcare reform debate, there’s not much patience for supporting anyone to the right of Sen. Feingold.

    There was a fair bit of consternation surrounding Sen. Gilliland’s when she was appointed. Her association and support for the NRA and her views on immigration were not party line. She’s already done her mea culpas and has been a reliable vote. Her support of womens’ choice is unwavering. I’d stay with Gilliland.

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