Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Circus in Virginia

George Allen is a mess. He really is. Watching his campaign over the past month has been as morbidly fascinating as watching a car accident. Plus, it just doesn't end. Allen has gone through several bizarre and questionable phases over the course of an increasingly tight campaign against Jim Webb. First, there was an outright racist comment ("macaca") and the fallout that ensued, then Allen was asked in public of his Jewish heritage, first reacting with defensive hostility (saying that it was important not to cast "aspersions about people because of their religious beliefs,”) then a full-on embrace of his newly-discovered heritage, and then awkward and again questionable humor (said Allen two days ago, " “I still had a ham sandwich for lunch, and my mother made great pork chops.”).

Now, Allen is entering yet another phase, this one very unlikely: as a champion for minorities. “Now, it’s personal,” he said about his new cause and referring to his discovery that he is part Jewish. I just cannot help but laugh, especially as Allen's campaign is now accusing Webb of "anti-Semitic ploys." All of this from a man who hung a noose in his law office in 2000, hung Confederate flags in his home, opposed the 19991 Civil Rights Act, and opposed making Martin Luther King Jr's birthday a national holiday, according to The Nation.

And beyond the symbolic, Allen has actively embraced a group called the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), such as when, as governor of Virginia, he appointed a CCC sympathizer as head of the Virginia Council on daycare in 1995 and with a praiseworthy letter he wrote to the neo-confederate group Sons of Confederate Veterans. As The Nation points out, Allen tried to back away from his past when Trent Lott dug himself in a hole by praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist campaign in 2002. Then he called an Indian-American "macaca."

We Jews can rest easy now that George Allen is on our side.

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