Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Virginia Pain

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Virginia Pain

What's going on in the Virginia senate race. The campaign of incumbent Senator George Allen seems to be in meltdown. Wasn't he supposed to be the next president of the United States at one point? I keep meaning to write about it, but then there's some new bombshell that drops, and I'm back playing catch up again. I'm sure everyone's heard about the whole macaca thing (and if you haven't, you can catch up on it at Wikipedia). What we didn't realize was that the Allen brain trust's response to that was going to set the standard for the rest of campaign. Their story shifted all over the place--there were any number of reasons Allen said what he said (unless it was all meaningless), but whatever the reason, it certainly wasn't a racial slur.

About a week ago, the story broke that Allen's mother was Jewish. In a very awkward response when asked about it at a debate, Allen criticized the questioner for "making aspersions about people because of their religious beliefs." It turns out that his mother is part of an influential Italian Jewish family, so how is it "making aspersions" to point that out? Maybe the fact that he'd refused to respond to the initial report of his mother's background for a month tells us all that we need to know. The next day, he issued a statement confirming his mother's heritage and admitted that he'd never known about it. Apparently when he was growing up, his mother would always rebuff questions about her past. Allen knew that his grandfather had been imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, but it appears that he honestly never knew why. That seems an important detail about which to lack curiosity, but to each his own, I guess.

This whole thing seems odd enough, but there was a new bombshell on Sunday night. Salon published a story in which teammates on Allen's college football team remember him using the N-word. Duh! If you've followed his career at all, you know that in the past he's been enamored with the Confederate flag (he even wore it on his lapel in high school), he displayed a hangman's noose in his office, and as Virginia governor, he declared a Confederate History and Heritage month and forgot all about mentioning slavery. How can we possibly be surprised that, at one time in his life, at least, he used the N-word. Allen denies it, of course, at least as an opening parry. But tonight on Hardball, political analyst Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics and also a former college classmate of Allen, confirmed that Allen used the slur.

I'm not sure how this is going to play, to be completely honest. You have to know that Allen's core followers in Virginia aren't going to have a problem with this. Many of them probably use the term themselves. But will it turn off enough moderates who, even in a Red State like Virginia, he needs to pull out a victory? My question now is whether the Allen campaign will fold completely as a result of this, or will he still make a race of it?

2 Comments:

At 2:50 AM, September 26, 2006, Blogger Peter Collinson said...

I'm not sure how Allen ever stood a chance against Webb.

On a side note, is it just me or do almost not want to mention the polls that have Harold Ford up by 6 points in TN for fear of jinxing it?

 
At 2:02 PM, September 26, 2006, Anonymous Doug said...

I doubt Jim Webb would ever be my favorite senatorial candidate, but he sure seemed a good choice for the Virginia nomination. He served as secretary of the Navy under Reagan, for god's sake. So why wasn't he even in the race before Allen's campaign started to implode? Allen not only stood a chance, it was his to lose (which, fortunately, he seems to be doing).

 

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