Hot air and red mud at Neshoba

One week out of the year, the political epicenter of Mississippi moves to the Neshoba County Fair. Elected officials, campaigns, and the press pilgrimage to Founders Square to pray in the annual liturgy and rites of Mississippi politics. Speakers praise or defame issues or candidates eliciting cheers or jeers from a congregation waving signs and fans and fingers.

I enjoy the pageantry. Every telephone poll dressed in political signs; homemade posters link Ronnie Musgrove to Barack Obama; free bottled water with campaign logos; push cards and stickers litter the wood shaving ground; and you hardly notice the hot air from the stage in the triple digit weather.

The U.S. Senate candidates spoke back to back on Wednesday. Talk of a debate between Sen. Roger Wicker and former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove never materialized. Open Senate races are rare events, this being only the fifth in the past 65 years. Rarer more are Fair debates of which there have been only two in 113 years of political speaking.

One Fair rumor whispers that Musgrove will send someone in a chicken suit to taunt Wicker for not debating him. White supremacist Jim Giles used a chicken suit in his quixotic campaigns against U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering. And costumes at the Fair in recent years include a giant piece of Green Okra criticizing Musgrove as he sought the presidency of Delta State University (whose unofficial mascot is “The Fighting Okra”) while running for reelection; and a Garfield the cat costume from trial lawyer Mitch Tyner to pitch the “Washington fat cat” angle against Gov. Haley Barbour. But a chicken suit just lacks the clever imagination of a giant vegetable, a cartoon, a culled cow, or a big toe.

Madison County Journal