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August 15, 2006
Killing Me Softly With Macaca

I've been a fan of Senator George Allen for the past couple of years, and I have repeatedly referred to him as someone who could put a good face on conservatism in the upcoming melee for the presidential nomination. Having served one term each as governor and in the US Senate, his long experience on the national stage and as an executive gives him a leg up on most of his competition.

Unfortunately, his mouth has pretty much wiped it all out, and I think Senator Allen can probably stick a fork in his hopes for the time being:

At a campaign rally in southwest Virginia on Friday, Allen repeatedly called a volunteer for Democrat James Webb "macaca." During the speech in Breaks, near the Kentucky border, Allen began by saying that he was "going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas" and then pointed at S.R. Sidarth in the crowd.

"This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great," Allen said, as his supporters began to laugh. After saying that Webb was raising money in California with a "bunch of Hollywood movie moguls," Allen said, "Let's give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Allen then began talking about the "war on terror."

What the hell is a macaca? Apparently not even Allen knows. In his apology -- which he made quickly thereafter, to his credit -- he told reporters that he had no idea what it meant. He came up with some lame explanation about how it sounded like "mohawk", which it doesn't, and said Sidarth's hairstyle reminded him of one. Sidarth has a mullet, which is bad enough, but a mullet looks nothing like a mohawk.

It doesn't appear to be a racial epithet, either. Jon Henke provides a pretty good review of why that possibility looks remote. Allen's sarcastic welcoming of Sidarth to America does make it sound somewhat xenophobic, especially when one considers that Sidarth is a native Virginian.

Regardless of the motivation, one has to ask a couple of embarrassing questions about Allen and his fitness for higher office. First, anyone who uses a demeaning nickname to an attendee during a stump appearance probably has some judgement issues. It doesn't exactly give one warm fuzzies about the candidate's ability to think on his feet. The same can be said about using words one doesn't understand, doing so in very public settings, and then doing it repeatedly. That's the mark of an intellectual lightweight.

And speaking of intellectual gravitas, Allen should have just apologized and then shut up. That explanation only makes him look worse. Mullets, mohawks, and macacas, oh my!

I'm terribly disappointed in Allen. I don't think it's enough to kill his political career, and it's no reason to stop supporting him for the Senate. However, I do think that we need someone with a little more on the ball for the GOP ticket in 2008, and unless the macaca really hits the fan, Allen should focus on keeping his Senate seat.

UPDATE: One term in each office, according to CQ commenter Lewis. I've made the correction above.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 15, 2006 5:59 PM

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» Almost getting it from
Just when you thing someone on the right might be getting it, they don’t. Let’s take Cap’n Ed’s post today about George Allen’s racist remarks. He starts out pretty good, almost like he really gets it… I’ve bee... [Read More]

Tracked on August 15, 2006 9:44 PM

» George Allen Only Pretending To Be Stupid from Jon Swift
Using an apparent racial slur against his opponent's operative actually shows how smart George Allen really is. [Read More]

Tracked on August 16, 2006 7:19 AM

» Eating Our Own from Adam's Blog
Captain's Quarters is now advocating throwing George Allen overboard as a 2008 Presidential Contender after him calling an opposing candidate's cameraman by the name "Macaca" (which even Ed doesn't know what exactly that meant.) and welcoming the Nativ... [Read More]

Tracked on August 16, 2006 9:22 AM

» Senator George Allen Watch: Allen Apologizes for Offensive Remarks - FLAP from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record) apologized Tuesday for remarks that offended a man of Indian descent who was tracking the Republicans re-election campaign for Democratic challenger Jim Webb. [Read More]

Tracked on August 16, 2006 2:09 PM


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