Monday, August 21, 2006

Allen's curious spell of self-destructiveness

Sen. George Allen just proved how much can change in politics in just one week. The infamous Macaca Gaffe of Aug. 11 seized up his campaign’s jolly momentum, which had been steadily gaining over the summer. Then the lame series of changing excuses the senator and his camp tossed out began what has been his decline in momentum ever since.

Now I’m waiting for the next new excuse. Like, perhaps we’ll hear that Allen had a bad reaction to some medication, which had him hallucinating. So the senator mistook the video camera toting tracker -- S.R. Sidarth -- for a terrorist, which would mean Allen assumed that insulting the man was his patriotic duty.

Then, as the Macaca story morphed from concern and outrage over the racist aspects of his loutish remarks at Breaks Interstate Park -- by midweek -- something else began to bubble to the surface: Perhaps George Allen’s aw-shucks, nice guy, poor man’s Ronald Reagan persona has been, and remains, just about as phony as it gets.

Perhaps that video tape showed much more than a mere slip of the tongue by a closet racist. It may have also revealed a bullying personality that serves to undermine the entire easy-to-like Southern gentleman act Allen has been affecting for his entire career in Virginia politics.

Whether Allen is a total phony, or not, won’t matter much to his rightwing hardcore base. His 97 percent support for President George Bush’s policies is more than enough for that crowd.

But to this commonwealth’s independents, as well as the moderate wing of the Virginia GOP, authenticity, good manners and common sense may matter more than Allen would like, in a post-Macaca world. Until this year, Allen has always enjoyed the support of moderate Virginia Republicans, in spite of how far to the right of them he drifted.

Now I have to doubt the courtly Sen. John Warner is all that happy with the abusive George Allen who starred in that video. The utter stupidity of Allen’s ill-chosen words and swaggering demeanor in that candid video footage -- together with the fact he knew was being recorded -- almost suggests Allen suffered a curious spell of reckless self-destructiveness.

With 11 more weeks to go in Allen’s contest with Jim Webb to represent all Virginians in the U.S. Senate for the next six years, the Macaca Gaffe has blown apart the lock Allen seemed to have on reelection. Now the doorway is open to even more change.

9 comments:

K said...

I remain unconvinced that enough Virginians are sufficiently appalled by Allen's racist speech -- or his stupidity in making it -- to turn the election Webb's way. We'll see.

What is interesting is that so much of the rest of the country is definitely disgusted. To wit: Today the LA Times editorial page -- definitely not a bastian of liberalism -- absolutely bashes Allen as "The Un-American Senator." After reviewing the speech itself and Allen's life-long record of questionable if not outright racist deeds, the LAT concludes: "There is no room for that kind of racism in American politics. We're not in the habit of telling Virginians how to vote, but an Allen defeat this November would send the right message to race-baiting politicians: Welcome to America. Now go home."

Good for them!

Dannyboy said...

It's quite possible, K, that Virginians aren't angry enough over the remarks. But only about 60% of Virginians even know about it. We have to make sure the number is much higer than that, because most of those that do know what been quite upset, and quite a few have changed their mind about George Allen.

Virginia Centrist said...

"the LA Times editorial page -- definitely not a bastian of liberalism"

Huh?

Anonymous said...

abusive? what video were YOU watching? Allen was good-naturedly ribbing the kid.

If you seriously think that was abusive, you might consider dialing back your "offend me" button just a wee bit.

F.T. Rea said...

anonymous,

Well, I suppose abusiveness comes on a one-to-ten scale. So, we can argue over whether this was a three, or a six, or...

But to claim Allen was “good-naturedly ribbing the kid” one must not only ignore the actual words he spoke/slurred, but also the sarcastic tone of Allen’s cocky, fratboy delivery, as he pointed out the tracker/camera man and called him “Macaca.”

Then there’s the context: Consider how much power Allen was wielding as he gestured at the camera‘s lens, and how little the camera man, S.R. Sidarth, had at his disposal at that moment.

That's an aspect of abuse that some folks know better than others.

Anonymous said...

I think it's high time too that we no longer tolerated the "us folks are REAL americans, not like you immigrants, liberals, and the rest of you" resentment from Allen. That's almost as ugly as the macaca thing. I don't run around telling people that even someone like Ken Lay is not a "real American" and I don't expect my leaders to whip up that sort of hatred either.

Tom Wise said...

It seems that a year or so ago the issue for VA. Dems was can we actually make Allen defend his seat. Since his reelection was almost assured, the least we could do is make him sweat a bit...

Well, "Ah-Shucks" George has given Jim Webb a gift, sure Allen is still odds on favorite to win (thank you incumbancy) but he mostly definately will have to work for it...plus it appears his Presidential ambitions are all but over...

So I think VA. Dems are in good shape, it's almost September, and George has some major 'xplaining to do. He's definately in a race...and this is good!

Brander said...

Anonymous.

Having grown up in the fifties on a peanut farm in Nansemond County, I witnessed, and I'm ashamed to say, took part in very similar "good natured" ribbing of $4.00 a day black field hands who were powerless to object to it.

The tone of voice and attitude of Allen was strangely similar to those good ole boys. He has his act down pretty well and believe me, his audience of white conservatives understood what he was saying.

As a white native Virginian who grew up in the segregated, economically limited south, I had no idea that there were rich young men in California who dreamed of walking in my shoes. Believe me, being the son of a famous football coach and receiving an education in the California school system beat the hell out of what they called "education" in the rural south.

Allen is, like his master Mr. Bush, a poser and an elite, racist coward.

Brander said...

Another thing....

Please Virginia, when a guy comes along claiming to be a good ole boy, to be one of us, please look at his feet.....
We good ole boys don't wear cowboy boots, we are not cowboys, we a farmers. We wear WORK SHOES.

Allen's cowboy boots, as much as anything else, paint him as a big city outsider.