Former congressman Harold Ford was billed as a sheep amidst the wolves when he was booked for an appearance at the Netroots Nation conference here in Austin. And while for the most part the DLC head and self-described 'centrist' Democrat received a cordial welcome among the progressive audience, there were a scattering of hisses, boos, and the occasionally unruly heckle during his discussion of FISA, Obama and Democratic politics more broadly.
Appearing alongside DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas - in what has become a series of appearances for the two since they butted heads during a Meet the Press appearance last year - Ford pushed back against the notion that Obama had abandoned the netroots on the FISA fight.
"Many of the candidates that people in this room drew national attention to voted yes for FISA including Jim Webb and Claire McCaskill," he said, "as did 20 of the 30 red-to-blue candidates that were highlighted by the netroots."
For that argument, he was received with some sympathy. But the crowd wasn't too cordial later on when Ford discussed, among other things, his time as a pundit on Fox News.
"I used to work for Fox News. I no longer am there," he said after an audience member, during the Q&A session, accused him of smearing Democrats and echoing right-wing talking points. "I have great, great respect and admiration for my former colleagues there..."
Some in the crowd were incredulous, hissing Ford, asking (err... screaming) "why and who," and offering a scattering of boos.
Later Ford was quizzed on why he would support granting telecommunication companies immunity for their participation in the FISA program. His response - that it wasn't the companies who should be held to a fault but rather the public officials who ordered their participation - was challenged by several different questioners, who demanded "accountability" for privacy violations.
"I think that accountability was brought in 2006 when [the GOP] lost in the House and the Senate," Ford responded said. "And we have only eight more months of George W. Bush..."
"When is he going to prison!" screamed an audience member to a few claps.
Watch some (poor quality) video of the heckling: