The spirits were high at the Steve Cohen victory party tonight and the numbers were so astounding, the huge crowd of supporters seemed almost giddy. After all, these are people unaccustomed to political victory celebrations, but when Cohen's winning margin reached 80%, even those seasoned by years of disappointment had to marvel at this achievement. The majority African-American District 9 had rejected racial and divisive politics and voted in overwhelming numbers to re-elect Cohen, amidst the nastiest campaign by a congressional candidate since the race baiting days of the Fifties. Only the race baiting, and Jew-baiting, were put forth this time by the minority candidate, who's entire campaign could be summed up by the slogan, "Vote for me. I'm black,"
Cohen couldn't have scripted a better closing week to his campaign. First, every news camera in the city recorded him bodily ejecting the Armenian Stalker from his home, an incident so bizarre that a knowledge of the Ottoman Turks is necessary to understand what it was about. And then it was revealed that the Armenians were contributors to the Tinker campaign. But whoever dreamed up the two repugnant Tinker attack ads that were so inflammatory they drew national media condemnation, ought to be taken out and shot, just like Walter Bailey's credibility. The "Prayer" ad caused Keith Olbermann to declare Tinker his nightly "Worst Person in the World," (video above, click on title), and on the eve of the election, Tinker's tactics were publicly repudiated, not just by Barack Obama and her benefactors, Emily's List, but by her former mentor, Harold Ford, Jr. It was fitting that her election night reception should be in a place called "Ground Zero." That describes her political career after tonight.
Cohen's huge margin of victory should be examined carefully in future races because it sounds the death knell of dynastic politics in Memphis and proves that the old racial politics, whether practiced by a black or white candidate, will no longer be rewarded. It's greatly encouraging to see a district dominated by the Ford family for 30 years, decide that they are best represented by the middle-aged, bespectacled, Jewish guy who had proven his mettle in his Freshman term and deserved another. If Nikki Tinker is genuinely interested in public service, and not just a short-cut to Washington, she should run for Ophelia Ford's seat in the Tennessee Legislature and serve for a quarter century, like Cohen. Then she might have the foundation to run for national office, instead of the bile, gibberish, and venom she had to offer this time. Meanwhile, I'd keep my day job, if Pinnacle Airlines would still have me after that classless performance.
Great credit should go to Cohen's staff, in D.C. and in Memphis, for operating an efficient Congressional office and a near flawless campaign. This victory must be particularly sweet for them. But the lion's share of the credit should go to the candidate himself. The House's passage of Cohen's bill offering an apology for slavery may be meaningless to some and purely symbolic to many, but it is an issue that has been festering for a long time, and it took Cohen to accomplish it. His voting record, as well as his initiatives, show that he will fight for his beliefs, even when unpopular, and he has become that rarest of politicians; a conscientious and incorruptible public servant whose first duty is to his constituents. What a novelty in this age. I'm feeling a little like Michelle Obama tonight, and if I could paraphrase her; I'm proud of my city for the first time in a very long time. Well done Memphis and Congressman Cohen, and keep on keeping on.