Sunday, October 22, 2006

Coverage of Allen vs. Webb

The Allen vs. Webb clash is all over today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch. There are stories with pictures in sections A (Front Page), B (Metro) and E (Commentary).

With Ross Mackenzie still at the helm of the editorial pages, it comes as no surprise that Richmond’s only daily newspaper is endorsing Sen. George Allen today. It did the same for him in 1993 when he was elected governor, and in 2000 when he won his seat in the U.S. Senate. Here’s a sample of that Page E2 endorsement:

“...Even in George Bush’s most confounding moments, Senator Allen strongly has supported the president -- notably regarding Iraq and the broader War on Terror -- as has his fellow Virginia senator, John Warner. Allen’s opponent in this race, echoing Democrats everywhere, has cast Allen’s (and Warner’s) backing of the president as sufficient reason for Allen’s defeat.”

The editorial conveniently ignores Warner’s much-publicized splits with Bush over the prosecution of the War on Terror, to do with the situation in Iraq and the trials of detainees. It also ignores the fact that in the last week Bush and Allen have both been issuing weasel worded reassessments of the obviously failed mission in Iraq.

In all, the RT-D’s endorsement read like boilerplate GOP focus-group-tested copy. Rather than win over any new support, it was written as damage control to turn out the base.

On the newspaper’s Front Page there’s a profile of James Henry “Jim” Webb, Jr., which offers readers a chance to see some of his background. Here are some highlights:

“...After graduation in 1968, Webb attended the Marine Corps Officers' Basic School in Quantico, where he graduated first in his class of 243. Then he went to Vietnam in 1969, where he spent his tour in the An Hoa basin as a rifle platoon and company commander. He still carries shrapnel at the base of his skull and in a kidney from a grenade attack. Eventually his injuries forced him to resign, for medical reasons, from the Marines as a captain in 1972.

“For his service, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.”

“...Nelson Jones, a fellow academy graduate, met Webb in law school. Jones is taking leave from his law firm in Texas to volunteer and help organize veterans outreach. He called his friend of 32 years very principled. ‘Rather than go back on his commitment to those who were serving under him, he resigned’ as Navy secretary, Jones said. ‘You don’t see that often.’”

...Webb became a prolific writer and author, with seven books -- mostly war novels -- to his name, as well as an Emmy Award for his PBS coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut. He also wrote the screenplay for ‘Rules of Engagement’ and has written another one, ‘Whiskey River,’ about Southwest Virginia.”

Then, on Page E4, political columnist Jeff E. Schapiro writes about the recent strategies of both camps and questions how well the voters really know either candidate. He finishes his piece, “Avalanche of Ads: Voters May Not Know Hopefuls,” with this:

“...Hoping to deflect Webb's flak, Allen flashes his signature gap-toothed grin, cozies up to Iraq skeptic Senator John Warner, and proclaims that voters know who and what he really is. But, post-macaca, do they?

“And do they know Webb at all?”
Art by F.T. Rea


Stewart Sternberg said...

First, if Allen pulls off a victory, then I'll have to put Virginia on my list of places I'm not sure I want to visit. Besides being a lapdog for Bush, a panderer of the Religious Right, and a buffoon's buffon, the man comes across as one of the most disingenuous legislators since...hmmm...Duke Cunningham? Bill Ney? Mark Foley?

Second, I want to say I love your artwork. Some of your stuff reminds me of R. Crumb's work from the late sixties. Some of your stuff shouldn't be compared to other people's work; it deserves to be examined for its own merit.

Thanks for this blog.

F.T. Rea said...

Stewart Sternberg,

Like so many voters in the USA, many Virginians have been in a trance during most of the Bush presidency, which has provided cover for Allen.

There’s some evidence that people are waking up. Webb is an unusual candidate. It’s still hard to tell how he will play with traditional Democrats. But he has my unconditional support.

Concerning the art, thanks for the kind words. R. Crumb is an artist I have admired since the late-’60s. “The R. Crumb Handbook” is within my reach as I type this. No doubt, he and I were both inspired by some of the same artists.

Here’s a silly bit of trivia: In 1980, I sought and received permission from Crumb to use his character, Mr. Natural, as the team mascot for a softball team I founded. (see: