The race in Tennessee really has the folks at the NRSC stumped.  “How do we fight against someone who is more conservative than our candidate on immigration and who has more charisma in his little finger than Bob Corker has in his whole body?  I know, let’s make fun of how stylish he is!  The rubes will love that one!”  Thus you have the spectacle of a website called Fancy Ford (I think the producers of the cat food Fancy Feast might sue).  The website’s spiel goes something like this: Ford is stylish, he is a ladies’ man, he dresses well, he goes to parties!  Aiee!  It might be enough to win an endorsement from Michael Brendan Dougherty

Presumably the metrocon vote is not large in Tennessee–though perhaps I shouldn’t assume too much–so it is unlikely that this could actually help Ford’s campaign. But this kind of attack (if you can call it an attack) seems to smack of desperation and cry out, “Yes, Ford is a better candidate, and he is actually to the right of Corker on some issues, but just look at his outrageously good fashion sense!”

Consider some of the particulars listed in the indictment of young Mr. Ford:

If you’re a host of one his receptions, expect to receive a fancy thank you. In 2005, Ford spent more than $8,900 on gifts for reception hosts at such fancy outlets as Alfred Dunhill, Davidoff of Geneva, and Thomas Pink ( Federal Election Commission Website, www.fec.gov, Accessed February 21, 2006). For those of us not quite living the life of Reilly, Davidoff was named “Most Exclusive Brand” of cigars in the last 30 years by the Robb Report, a magazine which ” has been the authoritative expert on the luxury lifestyle for some of the world’s most affluent and acquisitive individuals” since 1976.

Ford’s not just a spendthrift for his friends. His campaign spent $2,549 on an Armani suit for him to wear at a speaking engagement  

And just to make sure he’s always surrounded by beauty, Ford’s campaign spent $19,200 on flowers.

Now maybe this is supposed to be some kind of clever way of showing that Ford pretends to speak for the common man but lives high on the hog in Washington.  Therefore, Ford is being a hypocrite. [Update: Yes, this is what they’re trying to do.]  Okay.  But do the Republicans really want to start an argument about the personal free-spending and high-life habits of their Congressmen in the year of Abramoff, Tom DeLay and Duke Cunningham?  Does the party that glorifies materialist acquisition as one of the deeper expressions of human freedom have any credibility to preach ascetic renunciation to Rep. Ford?  Does the party of the “moneyed interest,” the party of The Wall Street Journal and Larry Kudlow, have any authority in mocking someone who savours the finer things in life?  I don’t think so.

Update: Our political observer in Tennessee, A.C. Kleinheider, points out this Ford ad that delivers a powerful blow to Corker.  For the Tennessee environment, Ford has the perfect credentials on Iraq: supportive of the war in the past, but willing to change strategy as necessary.  Full-blown opposition and withdrawal arguments wouldn’t work very well in Tennessee.  Watch as Ford nails Corker to the wall by focusing on the latter’s use of the “stay the course” line.

Second Update: Hotline notes the odd NRSC decision to hassle Ford about his dating life in connection with the “Fancy Ford” attack.  Meanwhile, Mr. Bush is still set to campaign for Don Sherwood in Pennsylvania, whose “fancy” life included a mistress whom he allegedly tried to strangle (Sherwood denies the second part!).