George Allen’s career as a United States Senator may soon be going the way of Pluto’s career as a planet. It seems the Senator from Virginia is paying a price for being a bully and a name caller. He and his campaign think it is unfair that he should be held accountable for his actions. They are particularly peeved this issue won’t go away.
O.K. But let’s face it – it’s not that he just did something stupid. He has no distinguished achievements as a Senator to fall back on. I cannot imagine Senator John Warner having done something so stupid but, for argument’s sake, let’s assume he did. This whole issue would have been over in 24-to-48 hours. Why? First, Senator Warner would have had the good sense to sincerely apologize immediately. Second, Senator Warner has a record and respect among colleagues that Senator Allen does not have.
What is Senator Allen’s reputation? He was Mr. Cowboy Boots and Mr. Confederate Flag. And now he is Mr. Macaca.
His campaign staff are upset the public is seeing him for what he is – a low brow narcissistic bigot. Their problem is the campaign can’t shake reality of the candidate they are stuck with. Dana Milbank in the Washington Post,
Since calling an Indian American man a type of monkey earlier this
month, the Virginia Republican has apologized in two speeches, on Sean Hannity's
radio show, in a phone call to the young man himself, in at least seven media
interviews and in several statements from his campaign showing varying levels of
But when Allen arrived here in the Shenandoah Valley on Thursday to
take a factory tour, the local NBC affiliate demanded another apology for the
"macaca" moment. "I made a mistake," Allen obliged. "It was a mistake, and I'm
sorry for it, very sorry for it, and I'm going to try to do better."
The words were barely out of his mouth when the ABC affiliate
requested its pound of flesh. "Oh, goodness," the senator said with a groan. "I
regret it, it was a mistake, I'm solely responsible for it, and I'm very, very
sorry. . . . It was a mistake, I was wrong, it's my fault, and I'm very, very
sorry to hurt anyone."
It seemed surreal to see such groveling from the former quarterback
and aspiring presidential candidate. But Allen, who was cruising to reelection a
few weeks ago, has seen his lead plunge in polls and has been exposed to
national ridicule. The rattled candidate has lost his bluster; his aides trail
him with looks of nausea.
Worse, all of this is happening in what Allen, in another context,
called "America and the real world of Virginia." There's a barbecue buffet at
Shoney's, and single rooms are $45.99 at the Motel 6. The vote here in what
Allen repeatedly calls the "wholesome" Shenandoah Valley -- distinguishing it
from less-wholesome provinces to the east -- is solidly Republican.
Yet Allen tiptoed around the issues of the day as he spoke to the
local chamber of commerce. There was no mention of Iraq or the Middle East, not
a word about terrorism and national security, and barely a mention of President
Bush. And, addressing another all-white crowd, he labored to avoid even the hint
of another macaca moment.
"We graduate 70,000 engineers every year; one-third are from
another country," Allen said, before adding quickly: "Which is just
Just fine? That’s quite a concession.
Campaign aides carefully checked media credentials, excluding the video
man from Democrat Jim Webb's campaign who had succeeded S.R. Sidarth, the target of the macaca jab.
The event was part of Allen's "listening tour," but when a local
television reporter, during question time, called out, "Senator Allen, are you
worried --," Allen recoiled as the chamber president, Kathy Welsh, intervened.
"I'm sorry, we're not taking questions from the media," she announced. "This is
for members of the chamber of commerce." This was followed by an awkward
silence; because no chamber member had a question, Welsh asked one of her
own. Minutes later, another questioner said he was from WVPT, and Allen,
fearing another reporter, cried out, "No, no."
In lieu of potentially demoralizing issues such as Iraq, Allen
addressed conservative causes -- the pledge of allegiance, judicial nominees,
and arctic oil drilling to lower gas prices ("It won't bother any of the
mosquitoes up there"). He regained some of his usual brashness when he
criticized the Bush-backed immigration legislation as "convoluted," "outrageous"
Trailed by reporters at the event's end, Allen practically dashed
from the room and aboard his idling campaign bus.
And if he is not running from the press, he is now avoiding the public. This from the Richmond Times-Dispatch this evening,
STAUNTON - A man who identified himself as a law student confronted
U.S. Sen. George Allen here today, demanding to know if the potential
presidential candidate had ever used the n-word.
Mike Stark, in his early to mid-20s, also asked Allen, R-Va., why he had a Confederate flag and a noose in his office. The News Virginian confirmed that Stark is a first-year law student at the University of Virginia.
An Allen aide asked Stark to leave, while a staff person at the
Holiday Inn in Staunton also told him to leave the premises.
The man paid $20 to attend a luncheon hosted by the Augusta
Regional Chamber of Commerce. The man stood with reporters waiting to interview Allen, then fired him questions.
“Is this an interview?” Allen asked. “I’ll be glad to talk to you
Allen aide David Nepp, stepped in and asked the man to
“Are you with the hotel,” the man asked.
A hotel employee asked man to leave.
Allen did say before the man left that the
Confederate flag was a gift to him. The Republican previously has said the
noose represented his tough-on-crime stance and long has been removed from
And in case you missed Senator Allen’s “Macaca Moment” you can see