Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fairly unbalanced spin on Macaca gaffe

The Macaca story made its way onto the editorial page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning. There’s a semi-clever Gary Brookins cartoon depicting Sen. George Allen as having a cowboy boot in his mouth, and there’s a piece called “The ’Macaca’ Gaffe.”

To its credit the editorial chides Allen for his remarks (below), which it termed “unworthy of a senator.” According to the editorial Allen said:

"‘This fellow over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He’s with my opponent. He’s following us around everywhere. And it’s just great. We’re going to places all over Virginia, and he’s having it on film and it's great to have you here and you show it to your opponent because’s [sic] he’s probably never been there and probably will never come. Let’s give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.’"

The editorial continued:

“Sidarth comes from Fairfax and attends the University of Virginia. ‘Macaca’ may have fallen on uncomprehending ears, but few considered it a compliment. It is in fact a pejorative and unworthy of a senator. If the ‘welcome to America’ applied to Sidarth, then it rated as an insult as well. As usually happens in these exercises, the Allen campaign’s excuses dug the Republican deeper into the hole...”

Then the editorial went into damage control mode; it even managed to shoehorn terrorists into the whirl:

“The news went national. The Website for The New York Times reports the story ranked among yesterday's most frequently e-mailed items. The whole thing threatens to become a feeding frenzy that ultimately makes everyone look ridiculous. The real world pays scant heed to these interruptions: For instance, terrorists have not used the occasion to declare a timeout.

That was followed by an off-the-wall apples-and-oranges attempt to neutralize the gaffe.

“Webb made a similar stumble during the Democratic primary when his campaign published a silly cartoon that depicted his Jewish opponent in imagery traditionally termed anti-Semitic. The general-election candidates now stand even in the dumb-moves sweepstakes...”

The cartoon to which the editorial refers was not drawn by Jim Webb‘s hand. It was created by a supporter. It was Allen himself who said, “Macaca.” There’s a huge difference.

On top of that the cartoon, actually a comic strip on a flier, was no more “traditionally” anti-Semitic than any other caricature of Harris Miller, Joe Lieberman, or any cartoon of a Jewish politician. Cartoons are what they are. So, the aforementioned Brookins ‘toon should not be seen as a slam on Allen’s religion (Presbyterian), either. Moreover, if one of Allen’s supporters had said “Macaca,” instead of him, it would not be news in the New York Times.

The only reason to compare that comic strip, which was mostly about Miller's career as a lobbyist/outsourcing advocate, and the already infamous “Macaca” gaffe is to play team ball. And, this time SLANTblog is throwing a penalty flag at the RT-D’s con to cover its candidate’s asinine attempt to get a cheap laugh at a campaign rally.

Perhaps the writer of the editorial would do better to ask himself how George Allen could get so loose and stupid in his lowbrow attempt at humor that he would say such a thing at a camera man rolling tape.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, they're just not going to be able to spin being a bully.

Not that they won't TRY, mind you. But this particular stupid remarks of the UVa QB is going to hang around for a while.

Anonymous said...

Terry: Did you notice that the T-D op ed geniuses also misspelled Sidarth's name (while today's news story got it right)? "S.B." instead of "S.R." It's a little thing but, taken all together with what you wrote, another potent commentary on the honesty and integrity of that editorial page. -- Don

Anonymous said...

You are 100 % correct..the RTD, a citidel for all-things-republican, are attempting to cloud the issue. Funny how the RTD conviently forgets to mention Allen's previous gaffes and history of intolerance...typical I guess.

F.T. Rea said...

anonymous (1:27),

I've noticed that bullies tend to show their meaner side when they stay too late at the party. Maybe somebody needs to water down the old quarterback's drinks a bit more.


You've got a sharp eye. I had missed it. maybe because I've had a hard time keeping an extra "d" out of Sidarth's name.

anonymous (2:05),

The RT-D's editorial page editor probably wouldn't have weighed in on this gaffe business unless he thought it was hurting Allen. So, he dutifully tried to stop the bleeding. But even Ross Mackenzie has to wonder how Allen could get so "carried away" that he'd say such stupid things at a guy with a camera and microphone in his hand.

Anonymous said...

yeah Allen has a "history of intolerance", but the macaca debacle is becoming a bit overblown in my opinion. The Harris Miller cartoons is definitely a weak counter point, more relevent is both candidates affinity for the Confederacy. Allen used to fly the flag and made April Confederate History month. Webb on the other hand praises former Confederates(, including VP Alexander Stephens who explained in 1861 that the cornerstone of the Confederacy "rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery -- subordination to the superior race -- is his natural and normal condition."(
To me neither candidate has a right to nitpick over good taste and racial infalliability.

History lessons aside, and despite the T-D's clear bias towards Senator Allen the newspaper makes a valid point.

There are much more important issues at stake for Virginia than to fling feces over Allen's remarks. If anything it will polarize Allen's base even more. Red state America loves a bully, look at Bush for example. I just hope macaca doesn't have any relevance come november.