October 22, 2006

Harold Ford’s Disruptive Behavior Is Nothing New (See Updates re ‘Early Voting’ and Ohio Politicians Abusing It)

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:25 pm

Welcome Instapundit readers! My thoughts on early voting (which I think should really be called “no-excuses absentee voting”) are in the Update. Also see Updates 2 and 3 with news of how two Ohio politicians have abused early voting.
_________________________________________

Current Tennessee Congressman and US Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. is getting a lot of unwanted attention this week for this (there is video at the site, but I couldn’t get it to work; Allah at Hot Air has a vid that definitely will):

Ford Jr. shows up at Corker event uninvited

Harold Ford Jr. showed up uninvited at a campaign event for rival Republican Bob Corker at a private charter airstrip in Memphis this morning. Corker had scheduled the media event earlier this week.

News reporters were surprised when Ford’s tour bus pulled up at the event and, apparently staff at Wilson Air were surprised as well, as they tried to steer media inside the property for the Corker news conference.

“You need to get this bus off our premises please. Right now,” said one Wilson Air staffer.

Corker instead, opted to come out and talk with Ford directly while the cameras were rolling. What followed was a tense confrontation between the two, caught on tape.

The two shook hands, but there was nothing civil about it. “I came to talk about ethics. And I have a press conference,” Corker told Ford. “And I think that it’s a true sign of desperation and that you would pull your bus up when I’m having a press conference.”

Harold Ford is no stranger to disruptive behavior. Last November, AFTER Jean Schmidt gave her famous/infamous one-minute “cut and run” speech on the House floor, here’s what Mr. Ford did, per the Washington Post (bolds are mine):

Just as matters seemed to calm a bit, Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) suddenly charged across the aisle to the GOP seats, jabbing his finger furiously at a small group of GOP members and shouting, “Say Murtha’s name!” Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), who had led the chants for striking Schmidt’s comments, gently guided Ford by the arm back to the minority party’s side.

This reference from SourceWatch doesn’t exactly mesh with the WaPo’s “gently guided” description (bold mine):

Harold Ford of Tennessee charged to the Republican side, waving his finger at Schmidt and other Republicans, yelling “Say it to Murtha!” or “Say Murtha’s name!” and had to be restrained by David R. Obey of Wisconsin.

Here’s the big point about both incidents: They were calculated attempts at gaining political advantage, and not legitimate displays of spontaneous emotion.

Last week’s tour bus disruption had to be “thought through” and of course approved by the candidate, who had plenty of time to cool down between the time he heard Corker say whatever offended him and the time his bus pulled in to Wilson Air. Though the reaction time in the Schmidt speech incident was much shorter, Ford’s histrionics occurred AFTER “matters seemed to calm,” meaning that Ford had some time (it would appear, from context, roughly 7 to 9 minutes) to “think through” his action. Ford obviously calculated that displaying a temper tantrum would be a useful piece of political theater.

These two incidents strongly suggest that Harold Ford Jr. lacks the temperament to be included in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

Harold Ford Jr. can take some consolation from his more recent childish display. The resolution involved in his November outburst went down to defeat by a vote of 403-3 (and after his dramatics, Ford voted FOR it!). The way things look at the moment, Mr. Ford’s margin of defeat probably won’t be quite that wide a couple of weeks from now.

____________________________

UPDATE: Tennessee resident Instapundit voted early, and voted for Corker. It’s not fair to criticize him for doing what is legal, but Ford’s latest disruption demonstrates, as I have felt along and have said here for almost a year, why absentee voting should be limited to those who are legitimately unable to vote on Election Day.

People voting before Election Day are voting without the full knowledge of the candidates, especially how they perform (or fail to perform) under stress. Because of that, I think their numbers should be kept as small as possible.

Elections should, as much as humanly possible, be based on how the electorate feels at a given point in time. I have to believe that some early Ford voters in the Volunteer State are second-guessing their decision.

UPDATE 2: Here’s another reason to be against “early voting” — Politicians potentially in trouble over their own voter-registration status abuse it. It has happened twice in Ohio just this year — once with a GOP congressional primary candidate (Bob McEwen in the Second District), and just this past Friday with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland.

UPDATE 3: Here’s the list of previous posts on the Strickland residency issue, which may not be moot, despite his early vote:
- Oct. 19 — What Touchy Ted Didn’t Say About His Residency Yesterday at the Dayton Daily News
- Oct. 18 — That ‘Lame’ Strickland Residency Story Has Travelled Quite a Bit
- Oct. 14 — Et Tu, AP?
- Oct. 14 — How Important Is It to Voters That a Congressional Candidate Live in the District?
- Oct. 13 — Oh, That ‘Lame’ Strickland Residency Controversy Is Getting Around Quite Nicely
- Oct. 6 — Should One Columbiana Co. BOE Member Disqualify Himself in the Strickland Complaint?
- Oct. 5 — Ted Strickland’s Ohio Gubernatorial Candidacy Challenged on Residency/Voting Grounds

UDPATE 4: Ford is Sister Toldjah’s Loser of the Week.

Share

15 Comments

  1. Yeah right. By election day we know tto much about candidates, not too little. How knuckle-dragging stupid does a citizen have to be to have to be made to “wait” to vote until election day?

    Comment by Biff Baxter — October 22, 2006 @ 1:06 pm

  2. People voting before Election Day are voting without the full knowledge of the candidates, especially how they perform (or fail to perform) under stress. Because of that, I think their numbers should be kept as small as possible.

    I agree. All due respect to Glenn Reynolds & Dr. Helen and everyone else exercising their legal right. But essentially they’re voting in a different election.

    Comment by Christopher Fotos — October 22, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

  3. #1, The Ford incident, which would serve to change the minds of at least some undecideds, proves my point, and disproves yours. And as an election-day voter, I resent the condescension, and am quite sure that I am not alone.

    #2, That is an excellent way of stating it.

    Comment by Tom Blumer — October 22, 2006 @ 2:19 pm

  4. > Elections should, as much as humanly possible, be based on how the electorate feels at a given point in time.

    … why is the given point in time important? What makes November more magical than October, or December? Are my feelings back in March somehow invalid, that I don’t have a right to make up my mind then? And what if I do? Am I ‘cheating’ if I make up my mind in advance? Who are you or anyone else to police that?

    >People voting before Election Day are voting without the full knowledge of the candidates…

    You mean they are voting WITH 99% of the knowlegde they need… things like party affiliations, past behaviour, voting records… but MINUS the last minute juicy scandal. If you’ll forgive me for saying so, that last 1% is often pure garbage. Citing a possible exception does not disprove the rule.

    Last minute scandals are in general perhaps the worst, most frivilous way to base your voting descision. We need LESS of that, not more.

    Plus, it puts more power in the hands of the media, which many do not trust, by forcing voting descisions deep into the McCain-Feingold zone and who are generally the arbiter of the aforementioned scandals.

    Comment by Ryan Waxx — October 22, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

  5. I like to vote on election day because of the camaraderie of being in line with my fellow citizens* engaging in an important venture together. (*and aliens and dead people, too…just kidding)

    However, I usually have an out of town conference during the May primaries, or had a medical issue and was on bedrest at home on primary election day. I didn’t hesitate to go ahead and vote early. It’s the same ballot, booth, and sign-the-registry process as if I had waited until election day.

    Those times I voted early, no new information came out that made me regret my decision or change my mind.

    Comment by kentuckyliz — October 22, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

  6. #4, You are not cheating to make up your mind in advance. Absent a compelling reason, you just shouldn’t be able to express yourself until everyone else does.

    As I said in #3, the Ford incident proves my point. Who are YOU to say some similar incident wouldn’t change your mind close to Election Day? As I said in the post, some people who voted for Ford early are likely regretting it.

    From your comment, one has to wonder how we have survived 109 congressional elections with close to 100% of the population voting on election day.

    The media and press will stop with the late hits and disclosures when politicians decide that full disclosure from Day 1 (warts and all) works, and when the electorate gets engaged enough to discern truth from fiction. The problem is NOT with the fact that elections are held on a given day.

    Comment by TBlumer — October 22, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

  7. [...] Or as Bizzyblog says, don’t vote early at all.  He advocates waiting until election day, so that one can see more of the candidates and how they perform under stress. [...]

    Pingback by Vote Early, Vote Often » Another Blogger — October 22, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

  8. #5, both of your stated reasons for absentee voting in the primary are valid under traditional absentee guidelines.

    Comment by TBlumer — October 22, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

  9. I’m all in favor of early voting.

    Not only do I need to vote early this year–I’ll be out of town on election day due to unanticipated work needs–but there really isn’t anything I need to know about the candidates in my elections.

    The only thing I will miss the the off-chance of an out-of character bit of behavior by one of them. “Out-of-character” doesn’t tell me anything except, perhaps, that the candidate made a goof.

    In all of my “big” offices up for election, all of the candidates have prior political records that say far more about them than anything that happens in the week before election day.

    I have far more information available to me about all cadidates than I ever had during the 25 years I voted absentee due to my being stationed abroad for the USG.

    Comment by John Burgess — October 22, 2006 @ 5:43 pm

  10. #9,Obviously your reason to vote early this year would have fit the tradtional absentee reasons.

    So many politicians, esp non-incumbents, play their images and positions so close to the vest that the only way we MIGHT get a chance to know them is to see how they handle themselves in stress situations.

    If the logic of having debates is to help people decide their votes before election day, why do we in so many states effectively allow everyone to vote before some of the debates even take place?

    Comment by TBlumer — October 22, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

  11. [...] Check out “Rev. Harold Gotti, Jr.” and his goons hunting down Bob Corker in a parking lot! Harold Ford seems to have a thing for getting up in people’s grills. What’s up with that? Is “Harold Gotti Jr.” running for the US Senate, or for capo? Would he debate issues like an adult, or is physically challenging his ideological opponents his M.O.? Can you imagine this clown in a Senate floor debate? UPDATE: This apparently isn’t unusual behavior for Harold Ford Jr., either. Harold Ford is no stranger to disruptive behavior. Last November, AFTER Jean Schmidt gave her famous/infamous one-minute “cut and run” speech on the House floor, here’s what Mr. Ford did, per the Washington Post (bolds are mine): Just as matters seemed to calm a bit, Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) suddenly charged across the aisle to the GOP seats, jabbing his finger furiously at a small group of GOP members and shouting, “Say Murtha’s name!” Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), who had led the chants for striking Schmidt’s comments, gently guided Ford by the arm back to the minority party’s side. [...]

    Pingback by MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy » Blog Archive » Tennesseans get all the political fun this year — October 22, 2006 @ 10:24 pm

  12. Here in California, you can be, and I am, a permanent absentee voter. The deadline is election day, so I have plenty of time to decide, and I take as much as I need.

    I can’t buy the argument that people must wait for some potential meltdown before making a decision. It’s up to the voter whether he/she wants to risk voter remorse, or wait for the last phony hit piece to make a decision.

    I prefer using a paper absentee ballot to the more complicated, highly suspect machines, and enjoy taking all the time I need, with reference materials at hand, at home rather than feel rushed in a cramped cardboard booth with people waiting.

    None of the absentee ballots are counted until the polls close, so I really don’t understand the magic of everyone physically voting on the same day. What’s so bad about voters casting votes no more than 2-3 weeks in advance that they should be denied the option?

    Comment by Lorenzo — October 22, 2006 @ 11:32 pm

  13. #12, mostly see my #6.

    If the Diebold nightmare plays out 2 weeks from now, you will have a definite point until they get their act together (not, holding, breath, and hoping against hope that there is no disaster).

    I could almost accept a 2-week window for early voting, but don\\\’t forget that early/absentee balloting is very vulnerable to fraud. All you need to recall is the Indian reservations that probably elected Johnson in SD with the help of suspicious registrations and absentee ballots.

    With voter ID being required at the polls, expect the next place for fraud to be in absentees, where ID is not required (yet) — another reason why people should vote in person (I could accept voting early/absentee if you have to physically hand in your vote somewhere with an ID — sorry, no mail — but the howls over that would be deafening).

    Finally, I do not think it is a matter of individual voter remorse, it is collective remorse if we someday get to the point where a large plurality vote early, and a damaging legitimate dealbreaker comes out in the waning days of an election (say, for example, a horrble domestic violence complaint that ACTUALLY HAPPENS a few days before the election. We had a DV situation in Ohio here with a primary winner in August (primary was in May), so it is not impossible. And that is just one example I can come up with off the top of my head.

    Comment by TBlumer — October 22, 2006 @ 11:54 pm

  14. > Absent a compelling reason, you just shouldn’t be able to express yourself until everyone else does.

    Again… Why not? Are there ANY good reasons anyone here can cite EXCEPT last minute scandals? Because no one seems to be bothering to try.

    Fraud may be one reason, but that could be handled with sensible ID laws.

    > As I said in #3, the Ford incident proves my point.

    Um, no it doesn’t. The existance of one possibly important scandal doesn’t magically turn the 99% of the OTHER scandals which are pure hot air into valid issues.

    I submit to you that IN GENERAL, the person who disregards a politican’s past voting record to instead focus on the latest scandal might as well as wiped his bum with the ballot. Same for the person who focuses on the latest scandal instead of the longer sweep of the canidate’s history.

    And even the example of Ford is weak… lacking the “temperment” of a congressman? Puh-leeze. Need I remind you that the man behind the “Dean Scream” is not only still a member of congress, his star is ascendant there? Clearly measuring a canidate’s temperment under stress is not a primary nor a secondary attribute for congressmen.

    Comment by Ryan Waxx — October 23, 2006 @ 4:42 pm

  15. #14, I hold to my belief that your vote needs to reflect the complete set of facts as they exist on Election Day as much as humanly possible. You assume the other 99% of the scandals aren’t valid. Some are, some are not.

    Your McCain-Feingold point has some validity. Solution: Repeal the obviously unconstituional McCain-Feingold law.

    I don’t get your “Dean Scream” reference. Who are you referring to? You can private-respond that if you’d like.

    A case can be made that the no-excuses-absentee movement is driven by those who wish to manipulate the system, and that they are suckering those who like place convenience above all else into helping them achieve their agenda.

    I still say the Ford incident does prove my point, as it will change some undecided voters mids (conceivably in both directions), as it should.

    Comment by TBlumer — October 23, 2006 @ 6:20 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.