Thursday, September 21, 2006

Allen’s faux persona is coming unglued

In the modern world those who live in the public eye, people who benefit from being celebrity public officials, do not have the privacy of a quiet individual, going about his own business. Thus, candidates are asked awkward questions all the time.

Yes, we want to see politicians tested in press conferences and debates because we know the focus-group driven images presented in their campaign advertising can’t be trusted much. With good reason we want to see how they perform under stress, without their handlers there to mop up their spills.

Having claimed Peggy Fox (the reporter) was “making aspersions” [sic] by merely asking him about his grandfather’s religious background, Sen. George Allen now wants to transform himself into the downtrodden victim of anti-Jewish treatment from the Webb camp. Jeff E. Schapiro, the Richmond Times-Dispatch political columnist, notes the efforts by Allen’s camp to reverse its man’s plummeting momentum by portraying him as the injured party.

“U.S. Sen. George Allen, R-Va., is accusing challenger Jim Webb of anti-Semitism for spotlighting Allen’s newly acknowledged Jewish ancestry on Democratic blogs. ‘There is a common thread that is running through the Webb campaign,’ Allen campaign manager Dick Wadhams said yesterday. ‘It has a clear anti-Semitic overtone to it.’”

At Monday’s debate in McLean candidate Allen angrily evaded the now famous question about his maternal grandfather. Today Allen admits he knew that his mother’s father was Jewish when the question was asked. At the same time, he also had to know it had been speculated in print over the years that he'd been hiding his Jewish roots. So Allen knew that question was coming, his bluster was an obvious stalling maneuver.

But because Allen simply didn’t want to answer it, the question was too personal?

While that stance is strong on chutzpah, it’s fatally weak on finesse.

During the week the Allen camp has awkwardly played every angle of this business it can see. Yet, other than his professional apologists, groupies and hardcore following, I just don’t know who is going to buy this “victim” pose. As a strategy, it seems much more likely to earn Allen another batch of late-night TV jokes at his expense.

After years of his carefully crafted public image passing for real, Allen’s faux persona is coming unglued before our eyes.

1 comment:

Bob Griendling said...

Well put. His troops are also becoming unglued.