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Hullabaloo


Sunday, August 03, 2008

 
Fancy Celebrities

by digby

I happened to be nosing around my archives looking for something unrelated and was reminded of the "Fancy Ford" web site that the Republicans put up against Harold Ford in his Senate race. The site is long gone, but thanks to the Wayback machine, you can still access it. It's very interesting to look at it in light of the recent "celebrity" ad campaign against Obama.

Here's a piece of McCain campaign manager Rick Davis's press release from last week:

Barack Obama is the biggest celebrity in the world, comparable to Tom Cruise, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. As he told Congressional Democrats yesterday, he has become the "symbol" for the world's aspirations for America and that we are now at "the moment ... that the world is waiting for."

Only a celebrity of Barack Obama's magnitude could attract 200,000 fans in Berlin who gathered for the mere opportunity to be in his presence. These are not supporters or even voters, but fans fawning over The One. Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day, demand "MET-RX chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew -- Black Forest Berry Honest Tea" and worry about the price of arugula.

Yet, despite all of the fans, paparazzi and media adoration, the American people still have questions: Is Barack Obama prepared to lead?


Here's an NRSC press release from May, 2006:

Will Fancy Ford Return To The Hamptons To Reclaim His Title This Summer?

WASHINGTON—Memorial Day marks the traditional start of summer and for Harold Ford that means partying with the stars in the Hamptons, an exclusive New York beach hideaway. Today, the NRSC is updating www.FancyFord.com to recognize Ford’s title as the Hamptons “Coolest Politician” the summer of ’04.

“Winning awards from New York gossip columns is fancy but it’s probably not going to help Harold Ford’s efforts to connect with mainstream Tennesseans,” said NRSC spokesman Dan Ronayne. “Hanging out with the stars at a posh retreat grooving to Nirvana is not how most Tennesseans spend their summers but Harold Ford is a fancy guy.”

[...]

If he wants to win another Hamptie, he’ll have to keep up his fancy ways.

Indeed, Ford Had To Compete With The Likes Of Martha, Gwyneth, And Paris. “This season saw Martha Stewart trying to act like she wasn’t about to face a stint in jail, Gwyneth Paltrow trying to act like she wasn’t famous and Paris Hilton trying to get the attention of anyone who crossed her path.” (Dan Kadison and Bridget Harrison, “What You Did This Summer,” The New York Post, September 5, 2004)

(It was observed by many at the time, that "fancy man" was an old southern term for pimp.)

Now the Republicans made fun of John Kerry for windsurfing and "looking French" so this doesn't necessarily indicate racist intent. But the wording is so similar, particularly with the repetition over and over again of the words "celebrity" and "fancy" that you can't help but wonder if they didn't use the Ford campaign as a template.

I'm pretty sure they were drawing comparisons for the press between Ford and JayZ and Diddy who have often been mentioned in the gossip columns hanging out in "the Hampties." But the celebrity thing worked in a number of ways. It certainly been applied to Democrats in general -- you still hear them ranting on about Streisand. But this is a little bit different. It's got all kinds of layers of cultural meaning and I doubt that it's an accident that two such similar campaigns are being employed against African Americans. As Pam Spaulding observed:

This site is cleverly intimating that Ford is living above his station and doesn't deserve to "move up" to the Senate, where, heaven knows, he may start rapping, flashing a grille and put a ho' dancing pole in his office, with the Cristal flowing non-stop.

And Obama the celebrity is going to turn the White House into Being Bobby Brown.

Update: It turns out the "fancy" language has been employed in this campaign as well.

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