It was amusing to read about Republican senatorial candidate Bob Corker’s campaign castigating Democratic nominee Harold Ford Jr. for "extravagant campaign spending." Chattanooga’s former mayor, who smoked his primary opponents in the GOP spending race and put a whopping $2 million of his own money into the pot as well, isn’t in a credible position to lecture anyone about lavish campaign spending.
A more winning strategy would be to address important issues, such as how to fashion an effective energy policy. Rep. Ford focuses on energy policy and its effect on national security in a new television advertisement, which got yet another jab from the Corker campaign. Clumsily trying to cast an issue-oriented ad as a sign of weakness, Corker campaign manager Ben Mitchell alleged that Rep. Ford "is forced to spend his paltry leftover funds on early television in an effort to salvage his campaign."
Rep. Ford’s campaign hardly seems in need of salvaging. He breezed to victory in the primary and is buoyed by a fundraiser last week with former President Bill Clinton that reportedly raised $1 million for his campaign and the Tennessee Democratic Party. Mr. Mitchell’s statement sounds like sour grapes.
By contrast, Rep. Ford’s ad sounds like a good idea. The candidate suggests that the billions in federal tax breaks for big oil could be better spent to encourage alternative fuels and asks, "What if the next big oil field was a soybean field here in Tennessee?"
A bushel of soybeans can create 1.4 gallons of biodiesel fuel, according to the Tennessee Soybean Promotion Council, and Tennessee produces about 40 million bushels of soybeans each year. Senators from Midwestern states make sure corn-based ethanol is high on the national energy agenda, and Rep. Ford clearly is thinking about how striving for energy independence can help Tennessee farmers.
In Congress, Rep. Ford has consistently supported legislation to reduce the U.S. addiction to oil, and he sees the opportunity before us. "We need to go back to the kind of big ideas and bold thinking that made this country great," he says, "We need to create this generation’s moon shot by becoming energy self-sufficient by 2025."
But the hopefulness of that challenge is depressed by the weight of Big Oil’s influence in American government.
The United States will not likely break its dependence on oil until its politicians break their dependence on oil money. Tennesseans may well wonder, then, why Mr. Corker chose Jim Haslam, CEO of Pilot Oil, as his campaign finance chairman. Mr. Haslam was famously quoted by Gannett News Service in 2005 as saying, "You don’t give money to political campaigns. ... You invest money in political candidates who believe in what you believe."
The author of the editorial has hit the nail on the head.
People are aleady begining to see the differences between Congressman Ford and Bob Corker. While Bob Corker run ads lying about his opponents, Harold Ford Jr. talks about innovative issues that will help solve our nation's most pressing problems.
People are tired of the same old game of partisan politics. They just want solutions to problems and real leadership. That's it.
That is why Harold Ford Jr. will be our next U.S. Senator this year. He is offering change, while Bob Corker is offering more of the same: failed results and failed leadership.
It is time Tennesseans had a leader they can be proud of. It is time for a new generation of leadership.
Days of Congressional Inaction on Ethics
Above is the number of days that have passed since Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to bribing Congressman.
It is also the number of days in which Congress has failed to pass an ethics reform bill that would limit private travel, ski and golf junkets, and would call for a full disclosure of expenses by lobbyists on members of Congress.
It is time for Congress to step up and pass an ethics reform bill that would do all of the above. In addition, it is time to end the pork barrel spending system as we know it and establish an independent ethics commission that would review ethics complaints against members of Congress.
I am proud Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is fighting for that reform!