Tennesseans chime in on the Dean of the Fainthearted Faction
Democrats have one chance, and one chance only, of taking Frist's seat in '06 (I'm sure you know Frist is not running again.) Harold Ford. You are advocating a very tough trade off for folks like me; I am very likely a Ford voter regardless of what he does on S.S.; so far, the other possible Democrat contenders would not get my vote. He is the only Democrat with any substantial support in heavily Republican East Tennessee, where I live, and for a Democrat to win state wide, they have to run well in East Tennessee. (Though not necessarily carry it.) This is how Phil Bredesen managed to get elected Governor. If Democrats cut Ford, they will make a lot of Republicans very, very happy.
From what I've read, he's definitely exploring a run for Bill Frist's Senate seat in 2006, and that's going to be a high-profile race. No doubt he's trying to gain support among conservative Tennesseans on this issue, especially East Tennesseans, and trying to preempt one of his opponents - probably the tired old Van Hilleary - likely charges that he's for 'doing nothing about the bankrupt SS program'. And by attaching himself to Lindsey Graham, he's going to pound it in that he's bipartisan and works very well even with very conservative Republicans like Graham and DeMint (as opposed to the partisan Van Hilleary and Frist).
I think all of this is his well-thought out strategy of placing himself in alliances that will ultimately go nowhere (Bush's plan, though more draconian, is going to be the only choice), but he can point out his public stance with conservatives as proof he plays well with others (repuglicans, especially).
I personally think Ford would be a disaster as a Democratic candidate for
Senate. He has no traction in East TN *at all*.... Problem is, no one except
Gov. Bredesen on the Dem side has any traction *at all.*
Let me chime in here with at least my <$Ad$>sense of what this is about.
The point here is very much not
to be writing people out of the party. The point is to corral them in
on the basis of an issue of fundamental importance to Americans all across the country -- let's call it a little coercive encouragement or organizational tough love. With any of these folks in the Fainthearted Faction, if they come around to the right position, then the past is the past. There's no sense in coming up with purity tests over what this or that person said or thought in the past so long as they're on the right side now. The point of putting these guys into the Fainthearted Faction is to get them out
of the Fainthearted Faction.
Like the first reader I'd hate to see Harold Ford go down over this. But I don't think that has to happen and I don't even think it's going to happen. It's a risk. But I think it's a small one and one that, if we run it, we will most likely end up with our Harold Fords and
a party united around defending Social Security.
If he turns out to be that craven, Democrats are better off without him.
Following a ship to the bottom of the sea on principle is seldom a wise choice. But the thing here is not only the fundamental importance of Social Security, but the fact that this fight is quite winnable
and that if the Democrats win it, the winning of it will generate dividends in cohesion, morale and respect in the minds of the American people that transcend this individual policy issue.
See, we like dividends too.