Jonathan Chait

If It's Sunday, It's Harold Ford

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Harold Ford was a guest on Meet The Press this weekend, marking the sixth time the former Tennessee representative has been on the show this year. That's more appearances than anyone else (besides the pundit superteam of David Brooks and E.J. Dionne), including more than any other NBC political contributor, and more than any current officeholder.

What explains the ubiquity of the bland and notably un-incisive Ford? Part of it may be his preternatural ability to meld himself into the prevailing sentiment of whatever milieu in which he finds himself. But primarily I believe Meet the Press always invites Ford for the same reason there are so many Olive Gardens -- you always know exactly what you're going to get:

February 14th:

I was astonished by what happened with the jobs bill also.  We are in the majority, we have an obligation to govern.  And the American people react in revolt when politicians feel like they know what voters want.  Health care is important.  But if we don't focus on jobs and jobs and jobs again, I think Vice President Biden was right, Democrats will suffer in the fall.  The reality is families are having problems at home, businesses are having problems running themselves--or I should say, people running them are having problems.  And the reality is people are worried about their future.  And, ultimately, your point is the right one.  I only make the point about the back and forth of it.  There has to be some honesty about bipartisanship.  You can't in the morning say you want it, and in the afternoon everything is undermined.

March 7th:

So the question is whether or not, if there are not enough votes to pass by reconciliation, do you reach out to those Democrats or do you begin to reach out to some Republicans?  When LBJ and the Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen worked to pass civil rights legislation, they worked together.  It may be that the president and the team now can find ways to bring a few Republicans over.  And if you have to vote with the reconciliation vote, wouldn't it be amazing if you lost a few Democrats but picked up a few Republicans? [...]

At the end of the day, the country could care less about all of this.  They want an answer.  And at the end of the day, jobs will decide this midterm election more than anything. [...]

My party needs to understand that there is growing, if not a crescendo of concern about jobs, taxes and the economy.  There's great concern even with 36,000 jobs being lost, which is far less last month than months before.  But there's a concern if the platform, the growth platform going forward that will create new jobs and provide economic security for families is not there. 

July 11th:

I think if we want to draw the juxtaposition between George Bush and Barack Obama, one of the great shortcomings of President Bush was that he seemed incredibly inflexible on issues confronting regular Americans, ordinary Americans, be it the economy or the war.  President Obama can't be inflexible as it comes--when it comes to the debt.  He has a debt commission.  I hope they offer ideas before December.  If they have ideas around entitlement spending, how to cut it, he ought to embrace it.  Two, he ought to extend some of the tax rates, especially around capital gains and dividend taxes, for the simple, simple reason that you don't want to spook investors or spook the markets anymore, which obviously will have a--an impact on job creation, which could increase unemployment if we don't do it the right way.  And finally, politics is politics.  There'll be a little back and forth, and I think the American people expect some of that.  But the White House should be aware of one thing: jobs, jobs and jobs is the only number that's going to matter between now and November. [...]

If Democrats, including Blue Dogs and CBC members and Hispanic Caucus members, are willing to come together with some Republicans, I think you can find a spending bill, a tax cut bill and one that makes some tough choices going forward on deficit spending.

August 8th:

I think, I think most Americans will listen and say, "Well, you can't have A, B, C, and D and say you don't need B, C, and D.  You've got to either say you're going to cut taxes and find some spending cuts." I think we ought to reform long-term entitlement spending in the country, but you can't out of one side of your mouth say, "Yes, we're for tax cuts, we're for spending discipline, and we're for bringing down the debt." Everyone's got to have an adult conversation here, and that's not, that's not happening.  Where I do agree with Mike [Pence] is this, jobs is the issue.  And if we find ourselves in late October, early November when the polling places are getting ready to open and close and people don't feel better about the economy, his party's in a pretty good position to win a lot of seats. [...]

They hear all this insider talk about what you guys are doing, what this guy--these guys, we're worried about them doing.  They just want answers.  If you're without a job or you've taken an job where you're making less than you were before, you just want leadership. Now, my party happens to be in the majority, and they will probably end up having to make a stronger defense than Republicans.  But you guys have an obligation and a burden to lead as well.

October 24th:

I think the president and Democrats are going to have to take a very, very different approach than they have up to this point.  They're going to have to be willing for more reconciliation with the other side.  They're going to have to be more focused on growth and jobs, and there might even have to be some admissions about mistakes that were made.  Because one thing is clear:  Even if we hold, the approach has not been the right approach over the last two years.  The goals have been laudable and the right ones, but the approach certainly deserves some tinkering, if not major reshaping.

He seems to be in favor of Obama getting together with Republicans and passing a jobs bill. Just a hunch.

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