Harold Ford Needs to Stop Shot-Gunning and Start Sharp-Shooting


Congressman and Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN-9) has just appealed to Republican Congressmen to join him in calling for Colin Powell to replace Don Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.
I like Harold Ford a lot — but he’s veering into reckless theatrics with some of his latest positions. In this case, Colin Powell is the wrong guy for this job, and to propose him in such a manner undermines Hal Ford’s credibility as a national security commentator.
Powell certainly has extraordinary experience serving as both a military leader and diplomat, but his brand has been tainted by the February 2003 speech to the United Nations in which he appealed to the world to support a war against Iraq based on solid evidence of weapons of mass destruction. The confidence that many in the nation had in Powell during the run up to the 2000 elections simply isn’t there today.
Powell is still a distinguished national leader who has kept his powder dry on Cheney and Rumsfeld, and the President, for far too long in my view, but he can’t be rehabilitated in the eyes of Americans so quickly.
Richard Armitage — Powell’s Deputy — would have made a better choice for Ford to talk about if he needed a person to propose.
But Powell makes no sense — and will inevitably result in journalists tracking down General Powell to ask what he thinks of Harold Ford’s proposal. This is just distracting Tennessee constituents — and the country — from serious potential successors to Rumsfeld, who is definitely expendable.
On another Harold Ford front, I recently saw on TPM Cafe a Harold Ford political ad calling for 100% inspections of all containers that enter the United States — and saying that just “one WMD” could bring American civilization down.
Ford is trying to play the “fear card” with voters — just as some Republicans have. I find this disappointing as he can appeal to his voters on so many other levels.
Ford is a very smart legislator and can do better.
Hopefully, the Congressman and his people will start reaching out to those who know the national security arena pretty well so that he starts to frame things more realistically and sensibly.
— Steve Clemons
Ed Note: Thanks to VS for the alert.