Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Senator George Allen as a George Bush Mini-Me

As this blog has pointed out before, Senator Allen goes to great lengths grooming a faux Bubba persona to promote his political career. Ed Kilgore, at the New Donkey blog, posts his observations on the phoniness of the junior Senator from Virginia:

… there's something particularly disgusting about this sort of attack on Webb emanating from the campaign of George

For one thing, Allen (like me) could have served in the Vietnam War, but didn't, getting past it on a student deferment. As an enthusiast for the war in Iraq, and contributor to the argument that Democrats generally and Webb in particular are "weak on national security," he has a special responsibility to steer clear of attacks on Webb for anything related to his rival's war service.

More fundamentally, Allen's own background ought to make the implicit anti-intellectualism of his campaign's attacks on Webb's fiction truly objectionable.

I know the conventional wisdom is that the revelations about Allen that have emerged during the current campaign turn on his alleged racism, dating from his peculiar obsession with the Confederacy during his high school years in Southern California. That's all true.

But I personally think the most damning thing about the Allen Story is that he has been exposed as the ultimate Golden State Child of Privilege who has spent much of his life trying to impersonate a dirt-farm, dirt-track Yahoo, mainly by aggressively embracing the underside of Yahoo culture, without the mitigating circumstances of
actually growing up that way, or any indication that he shares the positive features of that culture (e.g., a healthy disrespect for economic elites). To put it another way, most true southern white crackers may well have contempt for those well-heeled cultural elitists who look down on them, but they'd also kill to give their kids the kind of advantages that George Allen had, and, if confronted directly with the full Allen Story, would probably consider his efforts to remake himself as a 'bacca-chewing, thuggish redneck the ultimate insult.

It's also illustrative that when Allen decided to relocate himself to his vicarious southern homeland, he chose to attend the University of Virginia. Having lived near
Charlottesville off and on for a good while, I can personally verify what anyone familiar with The University would say: this is a place where anyone affecting a Yahoo world view--much less the Yankee son of a national celebrity with a French mother--would stand out like a sore thumb. UVa is arguably one of the two or three best public universities in America, but it's also arguably one of the two or three snootiest public universities in America. Whether or not George Allen routinely used the "n-word" while at UVa, or pulled Klan-style "pranks" on black residents of Louisa County, there's no question his whole pick-up-truck, Dixified persona in Charlottesville was weird on every level. And in many respects, Allen has remained, ever since college, the Wahoo Yahoo--the guy who perpetually combines inherited privilege with a willful determination to refute it by aping what he understands to be the culture of "real people."

By now, I assume many of you are thinking that the Allen Story closely resembles the Story of the President of the United States, on a smaller scale of privilege and pretense. And you're right: George Allen is sort of a George Bush Mini-Me. …

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