Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nobody told Allen there’d be days like this

For a little over five weeks, now, Republican Sen. George Allen has been shooting at his political opponent, Democrat Jim Webb, and mostly hitting his own cowboy boots. Allen has blown so many holes in his footwear it’s a wonder the man could stand up after yesterday’s headline-making debate in McLean.

The pattern started on Aug. 11 with his use of the word “macaca” in a telling (perhaps drunken?) episode that was caught on video tape and widely viewed. Since then Allen’s various explanations of his bullying behavior, especially the meaning of the unusual word, have been spectacularly unconvincing.

Yesterday, during the debate, the pattern continued with his strange reaction to a sudden question about his ancestry. WUSA-TV's Peggy Fox asked Allen:

“It has been reported your grandfather Felix, whom you were given your middle name for, was Jewish. Could you please tell us whether your forebearers include Jews and, if so, at which point Jewish identity might have ended?”

Listening to the audio track one hears booing from the audience. Looking at the video one sees a stunned George Allen.

Surely in his long career in politics the former congressman and governor has heard many an odd question. Some of them were bound to have been designed to piss him off, to knock him off kilter. That question about his family background could hardly have been among the toughest or strangest questions he’s faced in a debate. Yet, Allen’s reaction was to puff up with righteous indignation and immediately try to turn the crowd against the questioner. This move fit right in with the aforementioned image of him lording it over the Webb tracker/camera man, S.R. Sidarth.

Instead of promptly saying that he is indeed aware of having Jewish ancestors, or that he is not, Allen moved obliquely to say:

“To be getting into what religion my mother is, I don’t think is relevant. Why is that relevant?

Then Allen blew the question off. Why he acted as if asking a public figure about his grandfather’s religion was an invasion of his privacy remains unexplained. He acted as if Fox was trying, in an underhanded way, to reveal a dark secret. Allen seemed to feel that if he had a Jewish grandfather, it was something he had a right to hide.

Once again, it was recorded on video. How Allen will spin this is anybody’s guess. So far, his comments have been worse than useless to his cause. Yes dear reader, Sen. George Allen seems to be unraveling before our eyes.

After this election season is over, perhaps we’ll find out there was some sort of stress on Allen that we don’t know about now. Or, perhaps all his years of his posing as something he’s not, a Southern gentleman/aw-shucks cowboy, has worn him out.

Whatever the reason for his self-destructive behavior, there no denying that Allen has let Jim Webb into the race. If Democrats in Virginia had known that Allen was going to turn into his own worst enemy in the fall, there would have been more of them willing to run against him nine months ago. Now only Webb is in a position to unseat a Republican incumbent thought to be unbeatable only weeks ago.

Nobody knows what will happen next in this wild 2006 Virginia senatorial race, but now Webb has all the momentum. And, for whatever reason, Allen himself has handed it to Webb in the time since the fateful day of the Macaca Gaffe, which Allen himself is still keeping in the newspapers by claiming to have made the word up out of thin air.

Strange days, indeed...

Update: This afternoon Allen released a statement that answers the question put to him in yesterday’s debate. Given this, his reaction to the question in the first place remains a puzzle.

“... I was raised as a Christian and my mother was raised as a Christian. And I embrace and take great pride in every aspect of my diverse heritage, including my Lumbroso family line’s Jewish heritage, which I learned about from a recent magazine article and my mother confirmed.


thegools said...

As always i like reading your comments. keep it up

Anonymous said...

not only is Allen a Jew, but an African Jew. Whereas Jim Webb's great great grandfather was named Robert E. Lee Webb....

George Allen, and African Jew...He'll proably loose his lifetime membership to the Commonwealth Club any day now....

Brander said...

Wow, anonymous, you are so right....
Commonwealth Club and CCV will both probably send him packing.

F.T. Rea said...

anonymous and brander,

That style of humor isn't really going to help elect Webb. Still, it seems there are some who see it that way. Me? I'd rather push away from it.

So, from now on, although there's a point being made, I'd appreciate it if you'd take those jokes somewhere else.