HAROLD FORD IS DEFINITELY PLANNING TO LOSE THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION
Really, he doesn't care if he beats Kirsten Gillibrand in the primary -- either that or he and his advisers are utterly tone-deaf and think that the way to win a Democratic primary in New York State is the way you might win it in Tennessee: by running to the center-right. Ford may really be that dumb, but I can't imagine that the high-priced on-loan talent who've helped get Mike Bloomberg elected three times are that foolish.
They would know better than to allow their candidate to pen a high-profile New York Times op-ed saying, among other things, this:
Here are four simple steps we must take immediately to put us, and the nation, on a better course:
First, cut taxes for businesses -- big and small -- and find innovative ways to get Americans back to work. We can start by giving any companies that are less than five years old an exemption from payroll taxes for six months; extending the current capital gains and dividend tax rates through 2012; giving permanent tax credits for businesses that invest in research and development; and reducing the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent.
You want to run on corporatism without alienating Joe Six-Pack? You do it the way Scott Brown did. He came out against the bank tax, and when asked why, he said it's bad in general to raise any taxes in a recession and he said consumers would ultimately pay it. Taken to its logical conclusion, this is a philosophy that argues against ever taxing banks and rich people at all; it's pure Stockholm symndrome. But this is America, and it works -- a lot of voters fall for this Reaganite corporatism-disguised-as-populism.
But Ford isn't making the argument that way. He wants you to hear flat-out that fat cats should be taxed less. He can't really be so obtuse that he thinks this will win him votes in a New York Democratic primary, can he?
I think he's Bloomberg's and Wall Street's candidate, and thus he'll have plenty of cash to treat the Democratic primary as theater. He'll run, and he'll lose, and he'll establish himself as a nominal Democrat -- but simultaneously he'll secure himself a spot on a minor-party ballot line for November. (Maybe, like Bloomberg in the last three elections, he'll get the ballot line of the Independence Party, the brainchild of a bizarre psychotherapist/playwright/activist named Fred Newman). And then he's set to roll as New York's Joe Lieberman (2006 edition), with the hope that the Republican Party will sit the race out, Wall Street will fund him lavishly, and teabaggers will see him as a stick to beat Obama with (while he gulls a few Democrats).
Bloomberg doesn't like Obama these days -- he's criticized the bank tax and the Volcker rule, he's bashed the health care bill, and he's grumbled about the security cost of the 9/11 trial, while his police commissioner has complained that the city wasn't consulted on the decision to hold the trial here. I think Bloomberg is gunning for Obama. I don't really think he'd be backing a complete stumblebum in this situation -- I think they have a plan (which is not to say that I think the plan will work).