Tags: Analysis: | Allen | 'Macaca | ' | and | Dirty | Politics

Analysis: Allen, 'Macaca,' and Dirty Politics

Thursday, 28 September 2006 12:00 AM

Virginia's senate race started out as a slam-dunk for incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen. But now Allen finds himself embroiled in a real fight as partisans dig up 30-year-old allegations of racism.

So how, and why, has this campaign devolved into ugly smears, mudslinging and unsubstantiated racial accusations?

Initially, Allen anticipated a tough campaign, often saying that the Democrats had a bull's-eye on him due to his success as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Under Allen's leadership the Republicans picked up a net of four new seats in the U.S. Senate, and, in a huge upset, defeated Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D. But when former governor of Virginia Mark Warner decided against challenging Allen for his senate seat, it seemed the threat of a real battle had abated.

Allen entered the month of August with a double-digit lead over his challenger, former secretary of the Navy turned novel writer and Hollywood movie producer James Webb. The best the Democrats could hope for in this race was to beat Allen up a bit in the public eye, make him spend his war chest, and distract him from the 2008 presidential race.

But then on Aug. 11, Sen. George Allen, R-Va., by stringing some syllables together, made up the name, "macaca." A name that is very similar to the name the Allen family calls his niece, Maka. (Allen is known for his penchant of nicknaming friends, family and staff. His head of fund-raising is referred to as "Java," due to her incredible energy level. His wife, Susan, he calls "chicory," because her eyes are the same color as the chicory flower. His Listening Tour driver is called "king of the road," and the list goes on.)

In what seemed an attempt at humor, and not knowing the name of the cameraman that Webb had sent to film Allen's every move and utterance, Allen called the man, "macaca."

This ignited a firestorm of media speculation. The Washington Post and other media outlets found this word in another language, on another continent. According to ABC's "Nightline" one Tunisian history expert said it was a derogatory term used hundreds of years ago. Regardless, a word that had no meaning on this continent was defined as racist and pinned on Allen.

The cameraman, S.R. Sidarth, claimed to be offended. Allen apologized, and Allen's detractors had the opening they needed to drive the media into a feeding frenzy by playing the race card.

It had already been reported that Allen wore a Confederate flag lapel pin as a kid in high school, and later displayed the flag in his office and home. That story didn't have legs, as these were old claims and Allen's record of promoting a level playing field for all people regardless of race, ethnicity or religion was well documented. But macaca put fresh blood in the water and the media sharks circled, hungry for the killer story.

The surprise came with the presidential polling numbers for 2008. A CNN poll taken between Aug. 30 and Sept. 2, 2006, ranked Allen fourth with 7 percent. His polling numbers are up for the presidential race.

This terrifies the Democrats, and quite frankly, some Republicans who have their own agenda. Allen is the only true Reagan-conservative in a position to win the presidency in 2008.

The Democrats know that they must stop Allen now.

They're hoping for a two for one deal: Take his Senate seat and eliminate his ability to run for president. Rule No. 15, of the "48 Laws of Power," by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers states, "Crush your enemy totally." This is why the attacks have become so vitriolic.

But voters are smart. They recognize dirty politics when they see it and will make their decisions based on each candidates' performance, record and vision for the future, not on scurrilous attacks.

Allen is not a stranger to adversity.

He started out 30 points behind the Democratic favorite in the race for the governor of Virginia, Mary Sue Terry, only to come back and beat her by 10 points in the largest landslide in Virginia history. The Democrats are smart to be afraid.

They've learned the hard way not to underestimate Allen and never to count him out.

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Virginia's senate race started out as a slam-dunk for incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen. But now Allen finds himself embroiled in a real fight as partisans dig up 30-year-old allegations of racism. So how, and why, has this campaign devolved into ugly smears,...
Analysis:,Allen,,'Macaca,',and,Dirty,Politics
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2006-00-28
Thursday, 28 September 2006 12:00 AM
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