So by now you probably heard that Virginia Senator George Allen is in all kinds of hot water for making racist comments at a campaign rally a few days ago. I’m not going to mince words and I’m not going to tap dance. I grew up in the culture that George Allen was courting, and I know race-baiting when I see it. He can deny his intent ’til the cows come home and I ain’t buying.
First, let’s review:
- Footage of Allen attempting to cram both feet in own mouth
- Just for good measure, Daily Show coverage of the story
Now, according to MSNBC:
Mr. Allen, who is considering a presidential run in 2008, came under heavy criticism for the remark, which Mr. Sidarth captured on video and allowed the Webb campaign to post on the internet. As the controversy refused to die down, Mr. Allen on Wednesday called Mr. Sidarth to apologize.
The MSNBC story notes that the controversy has done Allen no favors in the polls, although it’s hard to know how reliable that information is. As North Carolina learned during Jesse Helms campaigns, any time race is on the table (which is another way of saying “any time Jesse Helms is on the ballot”) you have to factor in the closet racist vote. If Jesse went into election day dead-even in the polls, he was probably good for a 5% win, as people who were ashamed to admit their prejudices to a pollster were able to get their nigger-hating on in the privacy of the voting booth. (If the language offends you, good – these are the words they use when they think you’re one of them and their aren’t any blacks or liberals or wetbacks or Jews or towelheads or gooks or Macacas around.)
George Allen might have apologized, but he got his message across loud and clear to Virginia’s voters, a goodly number of whom speak the code and all of who understand it. I have no illusions that he’s a genius, but even he has to be smart enough to know that when you look right at a camera and break off a macaca, you’re going to get covered. Whether he misunderestimated the power of the backlash remains to be seen, but at one level the Virginia Senatorial contest has now become a referendum on ugly race issues.
And if I’m his opponent, I’m going to take that up that gauntlet and run for the end zone like it’s the last political football on Earth (mixing metaphors like a Northeastern Liberal race-traitor every step of the way). I’m going to the voters with a clear message: this election is about what we are and what we want to be. I’m going to bank on the votes of everyone who’s ever been on the wrong end of racism and the state’s educated urban progressives and take my chances on the final math. If I win, it’s a mandate to move the state up into the 1970s, and maybe even beyond. If not, I have laid bare the butt-ugly truth, and getting the racist out from under the hood where all can see him is an invaluable service to perform for your state.
Allen’s current lead over Jim Webb is in the vicinity of five points. I’m not sure what the closet racist factor is in Virginia these days, but let’s call it 5% until we prove otherwise. That means Webb has a 10% deficit to make up and the clock is ticking.
We’ll be watching.