Friday, October 10, 2003

Xenophobic Democrats

Here in the Memphis media market we've been saturated for weeks now with anti-Barbour ads from Democrats seeking to keep Democrat Ronnie Musgrove as Governor of Mississippi. We have plenty of wattage in our television and radio stations and they cover the northwest corner of the state pretty well.

What finally occurred to me today was the essentially xenophobic nature of the Musgrove ads. The latest radio iteration repeatedly calls Republican challenger Haley Barbour "Washington lobbyist Barbour" and refers to Musgrove as "Mississippi's Ronnie Musgrove." Note the possessive. He's "ours" and Barbour's one of "them." They attach Barbour's name to his lobbying efforts for countries like Mexico, Bolivia, Switzerland and the Honduras. Previous ads have worked hard to play up the non-Mississippi aspects of Barbour's most recent career.

It's blatantly xenophobic! It's a pure play for a bizarre strain of nativism. Bizarre, because if you've heard Barbour speak it's clear he could only have come from Mississippi. After all his years in national-level Republican politics and both national and international lobbying, he still sounds like Bubba from Tupelo.

Not only that, but Musgrove's latest ads mention that he's "conservative, independent." How strange is that, coming from a Democrat? No mention of his Democratic party affiliation. But such is the post-Clinton, post-1994 Southern political landscape. I haven't been following Mississippi politics, but my sense is that Musgrove has done much better for a Democrat than you'd expect, not unlike Tennessee's Bredesen. He has some solid accomplishments he can claim and the red ink in Mississippi's budget is no different from the bleeding of most states right now. But Barbour brings enormous political connections and experience; his lobbying contacts can also be rightly seen as invaluable to Mississippi in this free-trade era. So, I'm agnostic and indifferent on this race.

It amazes me though that Musgrove is straight-facedly and earnestly using conservativsm, xenophobia, trade protectionism and nativism as his themes.

Why, he sounds like Pat Buchanan. Think about that.

**INSTANT UPDATE** Seems like Chris at Signifying Nothing has already posted his thoughts on my post and the election in general. Woo! Internet-speed news cycle tonight.

And that makes three links in a week. We have a trifecta! Chris, collect your Bonus Cool Points** from the cashier in the lobby.

**BCPs can be redeemed with the nearest group of hip people in your area and socioeconomic/education/class group. Cool passport and a beginner's cool permit required. Do not use BCPs without knowing what you are doing, as they can be dangerous to your cool if used improperly. Always wear shades.

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