Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Because the cab drivers tell me so

Harold Ford, late of the confederate state of Tennessee, recently citizen of Wall Street, New York, is dipping his toe in the Empire State's senatorial waters.

Mr. Ford said he had been emboldened by the response he had received from the public in recent days. Everyone — from the cabdrivers who shuttle him around the city to the executives with whom he rubs elbows on Wall Street — has urged him to run, he said.

During a trip from New York to Palm Beach on Thursday, flight attendants and passengers stopped in the aisle to cheer him on, he said. “I didn’t hear anyone say, you better not run against that Kirsten Gillibrand,” he said.

Amazingly, the Wall Street folks he's been hobnobbing with--and working for--for the past year are all thump-up on the idea, too. And the cab drivers. They're almost like real people. Who knew?

What about the issues? Ah, I'm glad you asked.

[Ford] blasted [Gillibrand's] support for the proposed health care overhaul, which is expected to cost New York an extra $1 billion a year, and 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?”

But look what else we learn:

Mr. Ford declined to discuss what he is paid by the bank, 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; they should lose if they don’t.”

He's a what? He's a "capitalist". A capitalist who believes capitalists who take risks should be rewarded--and if they fail the gubmit should bail them out.

What else?

Mr. Ford twice voted for legislation in the House that would make same-sex marriage illegal. In 2006, when Tennessee voters considered a ballot initiative to outlaw the practice, he vowed to support it. “I oppose gay marriage,” he said at the time.

But in the interview, he said he had changed his mind. He said that he had endorsed civil unions since entering Congress, and that, after watching the debate about marriage unfold in state legislatures and courtrooms, his position had evolved.


He supported Congressional legislation in 2006 to allow local police officers to investigate and arrest illegal immigrants, despite the objections of many advocates and lawmakers, like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who said it would discourage people from cooperating with the police. He says his views on the subject have changed.

“I have come to better understand the issue,” he said. “Empowering local enforcement to do what federal law enforcement was not doing seemed to make sense in my state,” he said, referring to Tennessee. Mr. Ford, a member of the National Rifle Association, also voted for legislation to limit lawsuits against gun makers, and he cast one of the few Democratic votes for a bill to repeal the District of Columbia’s restrictions on guns.

When asked about the tough restrictions that mayors in New York and Newark have put in place, however, he said, “All of Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Booker’s efforts in the region, I support.”

OK. But fear not. Ford's no softy. He likes to shoot small, harmless animals that can't shoot back. Really.

Asked about his own experience with guns, he said he was an occasional bird hunter. “I shoot at things that can’t shoot back,” he said with a smile, “and will continue to do that."

Or until his next limo driver objects.