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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New Column

For those of y'all who might be interested, I've got a column in the newest Jackson Free Press. I'll also be posting it to my archive site sometime in the next day or so. It deals with some disconcerting thoughts that came to mind while I was at the Mississippi Rising hurricane Katrina benefit concert at the beginning of this month.

Celebrities stood at the microphone, pouring accolades like anointing oil over the heads of the politicians in attendance. All but one of the Republicans representing the state in Washington sat front row beside and behind Griffith’s old buddy and business partner.

Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson and Gene Taylor (both somewhat critical of the federal response to Katrina, it should be noted) were nowhere to be found. Odd, that. Amidst standing ovations, a gigantic Mississippi outline filled with a waving American flag, photo montages, star-power, and tales of Barbour’s strength and surety, a sickening feeling set in. Something distinctly manufactured was occurring, something to which I’d unwittingly become party.

It was even more acutely clear watching the rebroadcast than it had been in person. At a certain point in the evening, the mammoth screens that had been in synch with the broadcast for the first part of the show stopped showing the “TV view.” We would no longer see what America saw.

Frequent camera cutaway close-ups of Barbour, Trent Lott, Roger Wicker and Chip Pickering inter-cut with audience members’ glowing adoration cemented the effect. This was a massive GOP photo-op, something only slightly short of a rally. There was a reason it was held in Oxford; Republicans were all but guaranteed a friendly, receptive audience there. An enthusiastic crowd was crucial for success. We were coaxed thusly before airtime.

Rogers has been regularly seeding reporters with speculation of a Barbour presidential run for the last year or so. In recent weeks, Griffith crowed over Haley’s power and influence in Washington equaling Mississippi’s good fortune in Katrina’s wake. Peggy Noonan showers him with praise. All around, the familiar grind of the myth-making machine.

6 comments: to “ New Column

  • Anonymous
    October 27, 2005 1:03 PM  

    Where Thompson and Taylor invited to the event? Do you know? Were they absent by omission or by choice? 

    Posted by Eric

  • Mitch
    October 27, 2005 1:23 PM  


    I'd called both of their offices and was told no invitations had come. Nor did I see any sort of presence by the Dem Mayor of Oxford, though I can't say for sure whether he was there or not. 

    Posted by Mitch

  • Anonymous
    October 27, 2005 1:58 PM  

    If that is true don't you find it odd that neither of them made an issue out of the omission? It is difficult to imagine an opportunist like Thompson, facing a tough primary against Espy, not making some noise about this at least for the benefit of the Jackson TV market where he had been making an extra effort to get face time. I also don't recall Sam Hall making an issue out of this either and you'd think if there was fodder he would juice it. 

    Posted by Eric

  • Mitch
    October 27, 2005 2:03 PM  

    I think there's the chance they both realized there was more important work to be done. The real opportunists were all on TV that night.  

    Posted by Mitch

  • Anonymous
    October 27, 2005 2:51 PM  

    Now you are getting emotional and partisan.

    Bennie Thompson is already running hard and it doesn't take a formal throw of his hat to see that. If he was truly not invited he could get it to pay TV face time dividends in the Jackson metro.

    I wasn't taking a position your op-ed. I am curious why Taylor and especially Thompson, or the state organ, chose not to make nary a mention of this slight. 

    Posted by Eric

  • Mitch
    October 27, 2005 3:01 PM  

    That I couldn't say. You'd have to ask Rep. Thompson's office why they chose not to make it an issue. All I know is that according to their people, neither Dem had received an invitation.

    As to the state organ, they often fail to take advantage of golden PR opportunities. Repeatedly. Infuriatingly. It doesn't suprise me in the least. 

    Posted by Mitch

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