10 September 2008
The American election is about values, not race
If you are wondering why your friendly old Exile has a feeling that John McCain may just emerge as America's next president, look no further than this 2006 advert which helped derail Harold Ford's chances of becoming one of Tennessee's senators.
The advert has been dismissed as racist, but that probably owes more to the Democratic Party's frantic reaction to it than to any real intent at playing the Jim Crow card. The advert works on three levels, namely tax, national security and small town values. It is within the context of the latter category that the racism charge was levied.
The point is that Harold Ford attended a party organised by Playboy magazine. Just to make sure that everyone knew that, the advert has a nice looking actress who claims that "I met Harold at the Playboy party". Then a dodgy looking individual tells the viewers that "So we took money from porn movie producers. I mean, who hasn't?"
If you want to be a U.S. Senator from Tennessee then you do not go to Playboy parties: that is a no-no. Playboy's owners may not technically fall into the category of "porn movie producers," but that is a matter of opinion. The chances are that the voters in Tennessee probably think that Playboy is a porn outfit so therefore they are porn movie producers.
Members of the liberal comentariat have dragged this election up to show that Barak Obama could be defeated by old fashioned American racism, but the hurdle that he faces is even higher than that. The problem that Obama has is that he is seen by millions of Americans as a smooth, big city elitist whose values are not the same as theirs.
That, rather than race, is the significance of Harold Ford's defeat in 2006.