Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Allen's Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Going into the race to hold his seat in the U.S. Senate this year, George Allen seemingly had all the advantages. It was his race to lose, and it looks like he’s about to do that.

The Allen campaign hit the wall on August 11 with his bullying of a Webb staffer -- the notorious “macaca” gaffe -- that became a YouTube phenomenon. Since that fateful date Allen has been in a free fall. Allen may not know much about literature, or war, but he does have a background in football. Like all football fans, he has seen many a game in which the momentum shifted dramatically over one lucky play.

Politics is a game, too, whether we like to think of it that way or not. Having lost the momentum to his opponent, having fallen behind in most of the latest polls, last week Allen threw a Hail Mary pass. Allen attacked Jim Webb’s novels as pornography, smut demeaning of women.

Like last-minute desperation passes do, it caused a sensation during the flickering moments the ball hung in the air.

When the political football landed harmlessly on the turf, Allen saw yellow penalty flags flying; for one last moment there seemed to be hope. When it was announced the penalty was on George Allen -- UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT -- that likely signaled the end of his chance to stave off an upset.

Strategically, it seems that no matter what the Allen camp has done, it has blown back in Allen’s face. The attack on Webb’s novels being the most recent example.

Has Webb been lucky?

Perhaps, but I’d say it’s more like Webb has seized the moment. As the old football cliché goes -- good luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

And, I am hardly the only writer seeing Allen’s anti-writer maneuver as “unsportsmanlike.” There have been many from the left and the right saying as much. Here are the views of two such pundits about Allen’s laughably sleazy Hail Mary strategy:

William F. Buckley: “Who Is Being Smuttier?

“...At a practical level, Sen. John McCain, than whom no one is better qualified to judge war and writers who describe war, commented about one of Webb’s novels: ‘It captures well the lingering scars of the war. A novel of revenge and redemption that tells us much about both where Vietnam is headed and where it has been.’

“Some say that the mere publication of smutty, erotic, realistic passages from Webb's fiction will undermine his claim to credentials to serve in the Senate. There are many reasons to vote for the Republican incumbent, but anyone who votes for him in protest against Webb's fiction needs to -- grow up.”

E.J. Dionne: “Republicans’ Double Negatives

“...[I]n Virginia we have Sen. George Allen, a Republican, assailing the widely admired novels written by his opponent, Democrat Jim Webb, for what an Allen adviser called "chauvinistic attitudes and sexually exploitative references." Lost here is that Webb's fiction has drawn praise for the moving and realistic way he has depicted war and those who fight for their country. Conservatives should be embarrassed by Allen's last-minute sliming of Webb's books, since conservative critics have been among their biggest fans.”

The last time this writer can recall a statewide candidate dropping in the polls (Rasmussen, CNN) as fast as Allen has, it was Mary Sue Terry in 1993’s gubernatorial race. Allen was the beneficiary then.

Which points to another cliché -- what goes around, comes around.

1 comment:

sam said...

the man does NOT represent the state or its people. what an embarresment. Im working to get him out
heres a website with volunteeer ideas.