Political Panorama: The Weekend

The Race is on: John Edwards is on his way to New Hampshire, by way of Iowa, after announcing that he will run for President on Thursday in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. Salon sums up his first day of campaigning in the Big Easy, “where a seat of poverty pornography has taken hold over the last year and a half—everyone from Brad Pitt to Juvenile has paraded through to pimp their pet projects. “People feel forgotten,” Edwards said. He urged Americans to “get their hands dirty.”

Farewell to Brown: James Brown was mourned at a public wake at New York’s Apollo Theater on Thursday. Among those there was the Rev. Al Sharpton, his road manager in the 1970s. In a tribute, columnist Clarence Page writes that “when Mr. Sharpton married show business and civil rights activism, he learned from the master.” Page writes that although Brown turned political in the 1960s with the well-known anthem, “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” he prefers “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door, I’ll Get it Myself.)”

“Musically, the song’s compelling beat displays to full effect Mr. Brown’s distinctive emphasis on “the ones” (the one and the three, instead of the two and the four) in his rhythms. Its message offers an important response to the many people who were asking in the midst of urban riots and a rising black power movement in the late 1960s, ‘What do black people want?’

“If Mr. Brown’s answer is what it sounds like in his songs, ‘We want equal opportunity, not guaranteed results,’ it should come as no surprise that he endorsed Richard M. Nixon in 1972 for president. After all, it was Mr. Nixon, not John F. Kennedy or Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed the first affirmative action executive order into law.”

CNN’s Bill Schneider took a look at Brown’s “funky” relationship with the political scene, which included entertaining every President from Nixon to Bush II, and being honored by Colin Powell, right.

Merger move: AT&T earned some points among consumer groups when it made a series of concessions to win FCC approval of its merger with Bell South.  The biggest is an agreement not to start charging certain websites more for faster Internet access — the hot button issue that has been labeled “net neutrality.” Jonathan Rintels writes on the Huffington Post that the concession is only temporary, and it is now up to Congress to take action.

Ford postscript: Gerald Ford was “so incredibly decent and good natured” about “Saturday Night Live’s” parody of him, Lorne Michaels recalls to the New York Times. Speechwriter Mark Katz says that Ford was “smart about trying to get ahead of the joke,” and even says that he was somewhat of a forerunner to the now typical stops that politicians make on Letterman and Jon Stewart. “The portrayal of me as an oafish ex-jock made for good copy,” Ford once wrote. “It was also funny.”

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