Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 27, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

AUTHENTICITY....Ryan Lizza's profile of presidential hopeful George Allen is mostly notable for its evidence of Allen's youthful Confederate sympathies, but there's a subtext to the whole thing that might be even more important. Here is George Allen, man of the people, in action at a political shindig in Virginia:

As the scrum breaks up, Allen turns away and spits a long brown streak of saliva into the dirt, just missing one of his constituents, a carefully put-together, blonde, ponytailed woman approaching the senator for an autograph. She stops in her tracks and stares with disgust at the bubbly tobacco juice that almost landed on her feet. Without missing a beat, Allen's communications director, John Reid, reassures her: "That's just authenticity!" It's a word they use a lot it the Allen world "authenticity."

The press corps is a sucker for "authenticity," and it's something that both George Bush and John McCain have cleverly exploited because for most reporters, speaking in complete sentences or having smart ideas about policy are way less important than being a "straight talker" or "comfortable in your own skin." But just as McCain's embrace of Jerry Falwell has shown him to be a wee bit less of a straight talker than his handlers claim, Allen's "authenticity" also turns out to be barely skin deep. See, Allen didn't grow up in the South at all. He grew up in Chicago and California:

In Palos Verdes, an exclusive cliffside community, he lived in a palatial home with sweeping views of downtown Los Angeles and the Santa Monica basin. It had handmade Italian tiles and staircases that his eccentric mother, Etty, designed to match those in the Louvre. "It looks like a French chteau," says Linda Hurt Germany, a high school classmate.

....While there, [Allen] became obsessed with the supposed authenticity of rural life or at least what he imagined it to be from episodes of "Hee Haw," his favorite TV show, or family vacations in Mexico, where he rode horses. Perhaps because of his peripatetic childhood, the South's deeply rooted culture attracted him....Whatever it was, Allen got his first pair of those now-iconic cowboy boots from one of his father's players on the Rams who received them as a promotional freebie. He also learned to dip from his dad's players. At school, he started to wear an Australian bush hat, complete with a dangling chin strap and the left brim snapped up. He wore the hat for a yearbook photo of the falconry club. His favorite record was Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison.

Ed Kilgore explains why we should care about this, even though it's long in the past:

As a native southerner, I find this weird and a bit troubling. Personally, I have all sorts of issues with the Confederate Flag and the whole self-destructive cult of the Lost Cause. But I do understand its appeal to people who have grown up saturated in southern culture; I may sometimes consider them SOBs, but they are my SOBs. The idea of young, incredibly privileged, golden-boy-quarterback George Allen of California choosing to embrace southern shibboleths at the precise moment, in the late 1960s, when they were most associated with atavistic racial attitudes, bothers me a lot.

Allen may reasonably claim that what he did as a teenager four decades ago shouldn't be held against him now. But the consistent evidence in Lizza's piece that Allen's red state good 'ol boy schtick is little more than a personal invention, carefully cultivated and maintained through the years, should at least give the press corps pause as they cover his campaign. They've gotten suckered by this act before, and both McCain and Allen are currently gearing up to sucker them again with the same song in a different key. Caveat emptor should be their watch phrase this time around.

Kevin Drum 8:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (112)

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Comments

Agreed. And everyone really should read Lizza's piece, it's a brilliant piece of journalism.

Posted by: Jeremy on April 27, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Allen's communications director, John Reid, reassures her: "That's just authenticity!"

What's Reid saying? That George Allen is an authentic asshole?

Posted by: karog on April 27, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno ... I actually wasn't all that bothered by the content of Lizza's piece -- meretricious juvenile stunts and contemporary GOP NASCARMan schtick. Feh -- big deal. Dubya had a FAR more "young and irresponsible" (and longer lasting) irresponsible youth.

Personally, I found Lizza's piece to be a pretty transparent bit of a McCain water-carrying hit piece (it is TNR, after all) -- and an ugly bit of classism to boot (only poor white teens in shacks from Alabama are capable of violent, sociopathic impulses?).

Lizza sets the piece up as if there are going to be major, MAJOR revelations -- and then we get the equivalent of Clinton smoking a joint at OxBridge.

Posted by: The Confidence Man on April 27, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

What I thought interesting was the fact that he didn't spend any significant time in the South until he was 19, when his father became Washington's football coach.

Posted by: Steve Smith on April 27, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

And would this blockhead be Senator if he weren't the son of the late Redskins football coach and Nixon buddy George H. Allen? I rather doubt it.

Posted by: barrisj on April 27, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Checked his web site, and nothing but bland statements about every aspect of our lives.

Elect this guy and you have another Republican nanny with a government check for every group with any policy initiative.

Looking at his web site, I have decided that McCain is an idiot also.

Posted by: Matt on April 27, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking after 8 years of Dubya, Allen is a non starter.

McCain is a pandering gutless nincompoop. He's Joe Biden with a lobotomy and much worse policies.

Posted by: HeavyJ on April 27, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Should be.

Won't be.

Posted by: Jason on April 27, 2006 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

To be fair, there are a lot of people in the world who "wannabe" this or that even if they aren't seeking political office, and they aren't really trying to sucker anybody.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on April 27, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

How about this?

Rather than smearing candidates for their allegedly "contrived" personal affectations, we judge the candidates on their past record of achievement and leadership and their present-day ideas about policy.

Too much too ask?

Of course it is.

That's why this country is so fucked.

Posted by: Gwem on April 27, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

What struck me was his being in high school in SoCal and sporting the confederate flag. That couldn't have been very common, right?

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on April 27, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

What makes anyone think the press will not RUN with the good ol' boy story? What makes you think any American will ever hear of the privliged California upbringing?

They ignored W's patrician origins and let him get away with clearing brush at his fake, animal-less ranch. If you don't count the weasles and rats and hissing snakes who arrive for meetings.

Kevin, Kevin, this is the American press you are talking about.

Posted by: lilybart on April 27, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hint to the press: if a guy has a rich and famous father, but he puts on a show that he's just a genuine Good Ol' Boy, then he's a certifiable fake.

This isn't hard, you know?

Posted by: frankly0 on April 27, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

It seems every one of the fuckers are weird...they would be hard put to come up with anyone close to "normal"...But that's how they like their leadership: quirky, as evidenced by the current state of the nation. Just what we need , four more years of another phony.

Posted by: Ben Merc on April 27, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Digby pointed out that many southern voters like the "certifiably fake" Good Ol' Boy shtick who put serious effort into pretending to be southern. It shows that the guy has "respect" for southern culture.

Posted by: Constantine on April 27, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

lilybart: They ignored W's patrician origins and let him get away with clearing brush at his fake, animal-less ranch. If you don't count the weasles and rats and hissing snakes who arrive for meetings.

Beautiful.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: Ryan Lizza's profile of presidential hopeful George Allen is mostly notable for its evidence of Allen's youthful Confederate sympathies, but there's a subtext [authenticity]to the whole thing that might be even more important.
More important than his racism, which you barely touched on? More important than his sadism, which you mentioned not at all? And do you really think that youthful Confederate sympathies are also more "notable" than racism or sadism?

Hmmm. First you don't think it's worth mentioning that the Republican's $100 bribe/blackmail scheme is a cover for their renewed effort to open ANWR for oil drilling; and now you leave out of focus the more heinous aspects of Allen's character in favor of those which are everyday Republican phoniness. I thought analysis was your specialty?


Posted by: jayarbee on April 27, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

People are suckers.

Posted by: BB on April 27, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

I went to junior high in Palos Verdes and know well the high school he went to. Trust me, the place was a completely snooty haven for snobs and their brats who turned out not surprisingly to be just like them.

Posted by: Mad Blogger on April 27, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals like Kevin Drum say that Kerry injuring himself to get purple hearts doesn't count because it was three decades ago, but want to criticize Allen for what he did as a teenager.... and all he did was support a symbol of states rights. The Democrat party is pretty desperate. Keep this up and you'll never win an election. LOL.

Posted by: Al on April 27, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

I double checked, because Gwem demanded it, and this guy is a big government, pandering, Republican idiot in the mold of lil Bush.

I am not asking for a Goldwater, certainly don't want another big government spending communist like Reagan.

Looking for a Republican that says:

Time to quit pandering to the morally limited freepers, get goverment out of the bedroom, tax the rich fairly, and put on a good show fighting Pelosi and the other communist party.

I want a traditional Republican that says to the little guy, look, we will keep the rich in check, we will make it easy for you to go down the street and get a job without government nannyism, just quit asking for government intervention in every part of your lives, go figure it out for yourselves. No more big government Republican foreign policy schemes.

This guy isn't it. Where is Teddy Roosevelt when we need him?


Posted by: Matt on April 27, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

From the "Just wondering" department:

I know everyone from Hillary to Lieberman to Wesley Clark are in favor of the flag burning amendment...

Bless their pandering patriotic souls...

But what I want to know is:

Is it still okay for me to burn the Confederate flag?

Cause I tell you what...

That ugly snot rag needs to be burned.
And burned...
And burned...
And burned...

Posted by: koreyel on April 27, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kerry injuring himself to get purple hearts

Kind of new here. You're a parody troll, right?

Posted by: BB on April 27, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

BB: Being new is no excuse for being uninformed.

CLICK HERE: http://www.vietnamveteransagainstjohnkerry.com/kerry_pur_hrts.htm

Posted by: Al on April 27, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Caveat emptor should be their watch phrase this time around."

...yeah, I don't think I'll hold my breath waiting for Americans to NOT be stupid. You get the president you deserve.

Good night & good luck.

Posted by: ripdash on April 27, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that all these guys (you could start w/ Newt. Who names their kid Newt ?) either were (or are now) "dorkmeisters ?

It's like the revenge of the non-laid...

Posted by: Tim on April 27, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

and then we get the equivalent of Clinton smoking a joint at OxBridge.
Posted by: The Confidence Man on April 27, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly, I would have voted for him if he had just been straight and fessed up: "Yeah, I inhaled, I smoked that joint and got stoned - is that a problem? Because marijuana prohibition. . . THAT'S the problem."

But no. He was a weasel. Just like Bush is.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 27, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Digby pointed out that many southern voters like the "certifiably fake" Good Ol' Boy shtick who put serious effort into pretending to be southern. It shows that the guy has "respect" for southern culture.
Posted by: Constantine on April 27, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Or maybe it's that there IS no such thing as a genuine "Good Ol' Boy" - that they're ALL fakes. Which is pretty much true when you consider that all bullies are really cowards at heart.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 27, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Heddy,

"What struck me was his being in high school in SoCal and sporting the confederate flag. That couldn't have been very common, right?"

I remember the fool. Wet his pants anytime someone confronted him. Was an absolute embarassment for the football team. Could not do squat.

I don't know of anyone respecting his tire burns in the student lot. Got his clock cleaned by the only black person on campus, a girl.

I can think of only one worse person. That would be our present pretend-a c-i-c.

Posted by: Sky-Ho on April 27, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Hedley -
Sporting a Confederate flag in SoCal during the late 1960's is not as strange as it sounds. The association of that flag with racism is a pretty recent development, maybe the last ten years or so. At the time Allen sported the flag, it would have been seen as quirky but not racist.

Posted by: Peter on April 27, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

I hear you Jason and what I meant by "non-laid" is exactly the same sad s**t you describe.

Thereby rendering your love-life "dorkmeister approved" and the necessity for your superpowers to be of Star Wars proportions.

If this is they're next "empty suit" I'll be amazed but sadly not surprised. It might make me split.

Posted by: Tim on April 27, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

"I went to junior high in Palos Verdes and know well the high school he went to. Trust me, the place was a completely snooty haven for snobs and their brats who turned out not surprisingly to be just like them.
Posted by: Mad Blogger on April 27, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK"

Was no "junior high" in that school district, at least until the mid 70's. Care to explain?

I graduated in the very late 60's, had a sister graduating in the early 70's.

There was elementary, intermediate, followed by high school (four years). Where did "junior high" fit in?

Posted by: Sky-Ho on April 27, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

That Romney and Allen are getting much press suggests how slim the picking are when it comes to GOP presidential candidates. Not a reason for Democrats to be complacent, but geez... With a couple exceptions, it looks like a burlesque starring pablum, incompetence and religious wingnuttery.

Posted by: has407 on April 27, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

I graduated from Beverly High in '70. Played water polo against Mira Costa, PV, Aviation, Lawndale, and Morningside.

There weren't any confed flags around and the Australian hat w/ the falconry club is the tip (of the iceberg ?).

Hysterical

Posted by: Tim on April 27, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Al:

The issue the vast majority of Swift Boat Veterans had with Kerry had nothing to do with his medals, and everything to do with what Kerry said and did when he returned from Vietnam. Most of them could not care less about how Kerry earned or did not earn his Purple Hearts.

Just to keep that straight.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 27, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

How much of all this is to make Jeb look like a saint?

Posted by: lib on April 27, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Liberals like Kevin Drum say that Kerry injuring himself to get purple hearts doesn't count because it was three decades ago, but want to criticize Allen for what he did as a teenager.... and all he did was support a symbol of states rights."

No, al.

Kerry could not have injured himself in the manner your cretinous idiots suggest, time was never an issue. You might consider enlisting so you can see about what I say, if you could get away from your Fritos.

and, Allen made pocket-protector nerds actually look manly. Getting his clock cleaned by a petite chick during lunch? Yeah, right! There is a reason we call you freaks yellow pants.......

Posted by: Sky-Ho on April 27, 2006 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

The issue the vast majority of Swift Boat Veterans had with Kerry had nothing to do with his medals, and everything to do with what Kerry said and did when he returned from Vietnam.

Unless you were one of the swifties, you have to be clairvoyant to make this statement, as the swifty ads that had the most effect referred to the events in vietnam.

perhaps you think that you are clairvoyant.

Posted by: lib on April 27, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

I would vote for Gore if he weren't such a crybaby. Gore's other problem is he is Pelosi's baby boy.

Posted by: Matt on April 27, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

BB: Being new is no excuse for being uninformed.

You're real?

Oh, Lord...

Posted by: BB on April 27, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Hey hypocrite, tell me how you feel about Robert KKK Byrd's authenticity? And how do the progressives support a former klansman?

Also, how do you suppose New York feels about that Arkansas scum Clinton adopting their home state? Maybe the same way the south feels about Allen? Well enough I suppose to elect them to office. You're an idiot.

Posted by: Jay on April 27, 2006 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

Hey hypocrite, tell me how you feel about Robert KKK Byrd's...

I'm always amazed at how you guys can have complete control of the government, the media, and corporate America and still be so ravingly angry.

Posted by: BB on April 27, 2006 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

W served with honor, Kerry wounded himself himself, and all is well in the world....WTF is wrong with you Al...

Posted by: neil on April 27, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

If George Allen likes Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison album, I like George Allen already.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 27, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

W served with honor, Kerry wounded himself himself, and all is well in the world....WTF is wrong with you Al...

W can't control his unit rotations. He wanted to serve, but his unit wasn't sent overseas during his service. His unit was deployed, but it was either before or after he had been HONORABLY DISCHARGED. The only vidence he didn't fulfill his obligations is forged Dan Rather documents.

I suppose liberals would like the President better if he had inflated his resume by injuring himself. LOL.

Posted by: Al on April 27, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Complete control of the government, media, and corporate America........" - BB

Let's see, media I guess would include CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBS, CNN, NPR, NYT, LA Times, etc. etc.. All controlled by conservatives? Wow.

And corporate America would include all of the aforementioned companies along every one of the major production companies in Hollywood, just to mention a few. Again, maybe not complete control huh?

Government, well ok, we win.

Posted by: Jay on April 27, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

The association of that flag with racism is a pretty recent development

Maybe where you come from, Peter, though I very much doubt it. Here in Virginia we know what it means when we see it. It's been code for racism since forever.

And Kevin: "youthful Confederate sympathies"? While Allen was governor, he issued an annual proclamation making April "Confederate History and Heritage Month". His Republican successor continued for a few years, then stopped. Warner and Kaine have declined to do it, and that "tradition" of six years is now, I hope, dead.

Posted by: Nell on April 27, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

So racism is a youthful indiscretion? Wow. I wonder how many unfortunate souls in the south were hurt or possibly killed indirectly by his indiscretion. But he apologized.

And I suppose then driving drunk and crashing off of a bridge resulting in the death of a woman and then not reporting it for 24 hours is also a youthful indiscretion? You guys have big hearts.

Posted by: Jay on April 27, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Can't show up for drills in the guard...impressive and most honorable; purple hearts,bronze and silver star a sham and dishonoable. OK now I'm thinking like a true Republican. Thanx for clearing that up....Are you the real Al?

Posted by: neil on April 27, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

By the way,
Frequency is the former (and sometime) Fat White Guy.

His ravings are identical. Note a post a couple of days ago when he ended with FWG's signature line.

Well, whatever he calls himself, he damages his side every time he posts a note. I love it!

Posted by: jprichva on April 27, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see, media I guess would include CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBS, CNN, NPR, NYT, LA Times, etc. etc.. All controlled by conservatives? Wow.

Yep. Do you have contrary information?

Posted by: BB on April 27, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

And I wouldn't call them "conservatives" - that implies that right-wingers actually adhere to some sort of principles.

Posted by: BB on April 27, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

"I suppose then driving drunk and crashing off of a bridge resulting in the death of a woman and then not reporting it for 24 hours is also a youthful indiscretion?"

Posted by: Jay on April 27, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

If you did that Jay, I suggest you turn yourself in.

Posted by: mario on April 27, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

And corporate America would include all of the aforementioned companies along every one of the major production companies in Hollywood, just to mention a few. Again, maybe not complete control huh?

Perhaps you have difficulty with understanding what words mean. "Control" means having the power to make decisions stick. It does not exclude that others exist.

Posted by: BB on April 27, 2006 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

But of course idiots like Joe Klein will lap it up and say "um uh yep real authentic, and he ain't liberal so I think he should be President"

Ah the dirty low times we live in, no wonder W was able to make it to the top.

Posted by: Nemesis on April 27, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hey hypocrite, tell me how you feel about Robert KKK Byrd's authenticity? And how do the progressives support a former klansman?

He repented, Jay. A long, long time ago.

Idiot.

Posted by: obscure on April 27, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Every single one of their newscasts. Oh I'm sorry you have blinders on, nevermind.

Let me clear this up for you. Rights wingers have their agenda as much as the left wingers do but they are the fringes. It's the conservatives that have been winning the elections, and that still doesn't register yet with the Democrats. You think it's the right wingers, you're wrong.

Posted by: Jay on April 27, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody who grew up in L.A. knows about this guy's "dad"; Coach Allen. He was a real piece of work.

If George Jr. abused his siblings, think of what the "coach" must have put him through.

"Quality time"...

Don yer boots and yer Aussie hat "skipper".

Posted by: Tim on April 27, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

But I'd like to hear more about Allen's altercation with a petite black girl.

Whaddya say, Sky-Ho?

Posted by: obscure on April 27, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

very single one of their newscasts. Oh I'm sorry you have blinders on, nevermind. Let me clear this up for you. Rights wingers have their agenda as much as the left wingers do but they are the fringes. It's the conservatives that have been winning the elections, and that still doesn't register yet with the Democrats. You think it's the right wingers, you're wrong.

I have "blinders" on because I actually understand the basics of power? You own something, you control it. Simple stuff. That's why the whole "liberal media" notion is foolish on its face.

If you can explain how massive deficits or nation building are "conservative", I'm all ears.

Posted by: BB on April 27, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

The entirety of American ethnic and cultural identification is a simulacrum, as far as I can tell. Garth Brooks is as completely unconvincing in his cowboy schtick as our current Skull & Bones alum President is. Jon Stewart's attempts at Jewish humor are simply embarrassing. Country & Western music is a synthetic version of bluegrass, which is a synthetic version of "hillbilly", which has been a media phenomenon itself since the mid-1920s. The greatest movies featuring Southern and Western dialect were made by a couple of Jewish kids from Minnesota. If you wanted an "authentic" candidate in the US at this point, you'd have to run a Satmar from Brooklyn, and somehow I don't think he'd win.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 27, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

George Allen, Sr. was the Nixon of the NFL. It's only fitting that his son is still trying to exploit the Southern Strategy.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 27, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

Well that makes it OK then. So if you can apologize to atone for poor, or possibly criminal beaviour like Kennedy, Clinton and McKinney have most recently done, then where's the line of what's acceptable and what isn't?

Trent Lott apologized. Wasn't accepted. Recently a conservative talk show host in CA inadvertantly made a racial slur. Apology wasn't accepted. Cheney apologized. Wasn't accepted.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: Jay on April 27, 2006 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

Jason, my point was on-topic, about George Allen and his neo-Confederate sympathies and politics.

The Virginia National Guard unit is historically linked with the actual 'Stonewall Brigade'; it is the descendant of that unit. There is a very real difference between a military unit reflecting part of its history and a politician pandering to lost-causers by giving state sanction to celebrating Confederate "heritage".

Posted by: Nell on April 27, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hence the low poll numbers BB. Don't mistake that for a liberal victory. It just means the conservatives will elect someone more fiscally conservative next time around. Bush has done a miserable job on spending and with the size and scope of the government. He is actually very liberal in those areas (pun intended).

Posted by: Jay on April 27, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Liberals like Kevin Drum say that Kerry injuring himself to get purple hearts doesn't count because it was three decades ago..."

Yes, Al, that's just what Kevin was saying -- right before OJ Simpson landed on a lunar set constructed from green cheese.

Posted by: Kenji on April 27, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Jason:

That's all very interesting, and I really didn't want to get into it all that much, but if you look at the online petition that many veterans signed, it was all about Kerry slandering Vietnam veterans after the war, and not about his actions in Vietnam. From interviews I've read and other sources, this seems to have been the problem most anti-Kerry Veterans had with him.

You are correct that some anti-Kerry veterans did make a big deal about the medals and his actions in Vietnam, and this became a major media and political issue, but they were a minority.

The accusations about Kerry's behavior in Vietnam are based largely on anecdotal evidence. His behavior after the war is a matter of public record, and there's no arguing that.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 27, 2006 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

"At school, he started to wear an Australian bush hat, complete with a dangling chin strap and the left brim snapped up."

That's not a bush hat, it's an Australian military hat. The brim is snapped up so it doesn't get in the way when you are carrying a rifle. If you wear one and you're not in the military or a veteran you are a bit of a wanker.

Posted by: Tim Lambert on April 27, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

washington dc becomes less relevant every day.

Posted by: stan on April 27, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

I don't usually engage lightweight fruitcakes like tbrosz. But the facts about Vietnam are that Cheney took five deferments, Bush got in the the Guard with his father's help, and Kerry won several medals for combat. Those are facts. As for slandering veterans, that a GOP specialty. tbrosz just did it again.

Posted by: Mario on April 27, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

You bet, Mario. There should be a permanent link to that list that was circulating last fall, about members of congress who've served in the military. As I remember, the Dems outnumbered the Repugs about 3-to-1. But, of course, if they gave medals for smarm...

Posted by: Kenji on April 28, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

GEORGE ALLEN PRESS CONFERENCE

GA: ...which is whah Vur-Jinyuh is stee-ul the heart of Amerricuh! It's Gawd's country!

Flack: The Senator will now take questions.

Reporter: Sir? Is you a REAL cowboy?

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 28, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

I thought we lost the Viet Nam war and Viet Nam united, no dominos fell, we have relatons with Viet Nam, they are a counterweight to China, and all other things being equal, all we got out of that place was 2 million dead Vietnamese and some really nice Vietnamese restaurants here in the old USA.

What a mess we would have if we had won that war!

Posted by: Matt on April 28, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Any thoughts?

Why yes, Jay.

Byrd apologized for joining the clan, so I forgive him for that.

Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld have not yet apologized for being the worst administration in our history.

Nor have they apologized for lying us into an unnecessary war of aggression which has turned into a full-scale catastrophe.

Nor have they apologized for wrecking the nations finances. Nor have they apologized for ignoring critically important environmental issues while the clock ticks away. Nor have they apologized for shitting all over the US Constitution.

So, I haven't forgiven them for those things.

Posted by: obscure on April 28, 2006 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

This is OT, and I really don't want to replay the tiresome Kerry-in-Vietnam thing again, but I just have to love how today's "conservatives" treat that period.

On the one hand Vietnam was the classic liberal screw-up, the largest albatross they want to hang around Democrats' necks. But on the other hand, people like John Kerry were also wrong to protest America's involvement in it.

But there I go again, trying to "understand" the motivations of thoroughly unprincipled people. When will I learn?

Posted by: Alek Hidell on April 28, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

We should do with southerners what Elizabeth I did with Catholics.

Posted by: SavageView on April 28, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

both McCain and Allen are currently gearing up to sucker them again with the same song in a different key

What an utterly unfair comparison. I won't be voting for either of them, but while Allen was playing Dukes of Orange County, and George W Bush was wrecking rent houses in Birmingham, John McCain was hanging by his arms in a Vietnamese prison.

Surely, in any discussion of authenticity (which I do agree is a terribly flawed criterion), we should at least distinguish the people who have some claim to it from the people who have absolutely zero (i.e., Bush and Allen).

Posted by: kth on April 28, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

...it was all about Kerry slandering Vietnam veterans.

Y'know, Tom, "slander" has a precise meaning, not just legally but colloqiually. It doesn't mean "said something true that made someone else feel bad or angry or both." But good try!

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

The dishonesty of tbrosz is once again on full display here.

He minimizes the swift boat ads that were the cornerstone of the swiftboating of Kerry, and falsely claims that some online petition was the main tool that the swifties used to slander Kerry.

The depths of depravity of this person knows no bounds.

Posted by: lib on April 28, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Allen's "authenticity" also turns out to be barely skin deep. See, Allen didn't grow up in the South at all.

It's called the Republican John Wayne strategy.

Posted by: ogmb on April 28, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Well those Virginians should find some way to be proud of America instead of celebrating secession and slavery.

Posted by: matt on April 28, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

yes, tbrosz and the other right wing trolls simply believe things like the Swift Boat Liars because it's what they want to believe. No amount of reasoning will dissuade them; only kicking their heads in will change their minds.

Posted by: matt on April 28, 2006 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

"That's not a bush hat, it's an Australian military hat. The brim is snapped up so it doesn't get in the way when you are carrying a rifle. If you wear one and you're not in the military or a veteran you are a bit of a wanker."

Which is why a lot of our WW11 soldiers died early from facial skin cancers, mainly on the unprotected side of their faces. They didn't know a lot about that, way back then. That hat is only now worn on ceremonial occasions.

We in Oz have always considered that those who wear that hat on the street are generally first class wankers. Sounds like you've got a live one on your hands...

Posted by: MO on April 28, 2006 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

On the one hand Vietnam was the classic liberal screw-up...

American involvement in Vietnam began in 1954, following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu. That was during the Eisenhower administration. Vietnam was a classic conservative screw-up.

Posted by: raj on April 28, 2006 at 5:04 AM | PERMALINK

American involvement in Vietnam began in 1954, following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu.

American "involvement" in Vietnam began in early 1945, when we began training Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh guerrillas to fight the Japanese. I just last week was shown a 1945 comic-strip-style leaflet produced by the Viet Minh instructing locals to rescue any downed American pilots and try to get them to Chiang Kai-Shek's forces in China.

American involvement AGAINST the Viet Minh began in 1950 or so, when we started funding France's war to retain its colony. By the end we were footing over 70% of the bill. It came to a couple of billion dollars all told.

None of this has much to do with George Allen, Jr. But I will say this: George Allen, Sr.'s policy of trading top draft picks for middling veterans, mortgaging the Redskins' future for years down the road, is an early corollary of Republican deficit financing and tax-cutting madness ever since. For me, "malaise" will forever equal the Billy Kilmer years.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 28, 2006 at 6:28 AM | PERMALINK

George Allen, Sr.'s policy of trading top draft picks for middling veterans, mortgaging the Redskins' future for years down the road, is an early corollary of Republican deficit financing and tax-cutting madness ever since.

Wow. Redskins fans have long memories when it comes to their beloved team... I thought I was going a bit overboard because I still fondly remembered Jets fans chanting of "Joe Must Go" back in the late 80s. To still harbor resentment against George Allen, Sr... well, that's a thing of beauty.

That said, George Allen, Jr. seems like the ideal choice for a lot of Republican primary voters.

Now, are any of the trolls actually defending George Allen's authenticity? It seems they're reverting to form with attacks on Clinton, Kerry, and other Democrats.

Posted by: Constantine on April 28, 2006 at 7:00 AM | PERMALINK

I thought we lost the Viet Nam war and Viet Nam united, no dominos fell, we have relatons with Viet Nam, they are a counterweight to China, and all other things being equal, all we got out of that place was 2 million dead Vietnamese and some really nice Vietnamese restaurants here in the old USA.

Posted by: Matt on April 28, 2006 at 7:05 AM | PERMALINK

george bush, authentic Texas good old boy.
Born in Connecticut, Ivy League education, family compound in Kennebunkport.
Yep, sho nuff southern good ol' boy.

Posted by: gus on April 28, 2006 at 7:19 AM | PERMALINK

BB, step away from Al, he worships at the altar of Jeebus W. Bush. And he's full of shit. A chickenhawk who smears vets is all he is.

Posted by: gus on April 28, 2006 at 7:23 AM | PERMALINK

god al, your bush fellating is getting embarrassing. please enlist.

Posted by: gus on April 28, 2006 at 7:33 AM | PERMALINK

While I'm sure the cowboy boots and "aw shucks" manner are partly cultivated on Allen's part, his explanation that he adapted such things as the Confederate flag as counter-culture symbols while in high school strikes me as perfectly plausible. His football coach father was apparently staunchly conservative, a tee-totaler, and so forth. Growing up in a macho, conservative household while in the 1960s/early 1970s Los Angeles area presumably created a certain cognitive dissonance and a need to make a choice between the two cultures. Affecting good ol' boy symbols is a way of doing that.

Posted by: James Joyner on April 28, 2006 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

You all should get an F in history. The use of a psuedo-'common man' approach by Presidential candidates has gone on since Andrew Jackson, the most absurd case being Wm. Henry Harrison's "Hard Cider" campaign. But it's been used by good candidates and bad. Even Lincolm played up his 'rail splitter' image rather than his career as a lawyer, and Teddy Roosevelt stressed his 'cowboy' and "San Juan' experiences more than his rich ancestry. I find the 'image' that Allen is projecting offensive -- as i did with Our (heaven help us) George's -- not the fact he's using one.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on April 28, 2006 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

Others have pointed out tbrosz' disgusting dishonesty regarding Kerry, but I didn't want this lie to go unchallenged either:

The accusations about Kerry's behavior in Vietnam are based largely on anecdotal evidence. His behavior after the war is a matter of public record, and there's no arguing that.

The accusations about Kerry's behavior in Vietnam are based entirely on "anecdotal evidence" -- that'd be "lies," and indeed "slander," if you will -- and lies many years after the fact that contradict a public record -- Kerry's service record -- that not even Dick Nixon dared challenge. tbrosz' characterization of the Swift Boat Liars' smears gives them far more credibility than they deserve.

Dishonest conservatives -- but I repeat myself -- like tbrosz get a lot of mileage out of distorting Kerry's statements, but O'Neil's experience as Nixon's attack dog revealed that Kerry's status as a war hero gave his opposition to the war much credibility. He and his pack of liars knew that for their criticism to gain traction, Kerry's record as a war hero needed tearing down, so they set out to do it. Their attacks were no "small part" of the criticism of Kerry, they were an essential component of it, as tbrosz well knows.

Shame on you, tbrosz, for condoning, and indeed participating in, the smears of Kerry. Craven behavior like yours is why Republicans have no credibility at all on national security.

Posted by: Gregory on April 28, 2006 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

I find the 'image' that Allen is projecting offensive -- as i did with Our (heaven help us) George's -- not the fact he's using one.

And likely this thread would not exist were it not for the fact that Allen chose a particularly offensive image to adopt and laid that image on top of a particularly sadistic and offensive persona that he already has.

McCain's pseudo-maverick shtick, Kerry's Harley-riding photo-ops, and Bush's obsessive-compulsive need to "clear brush" on his estate are fodder for mere mockery. Allen is attracting attention because he's crossed a line into creepiness.

Posted by: Constantine on April 28, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

How dare any besmirch Tom Brosz's excellent military qualifications - Why, do you know how many times he walked by the ROTC training units at Minnesota? The drill instructor kept yelling, "Walk, chew gum, walk, chew gum" - And a few of them actually would accomplish this at the same time - But, alas poor Tom - never seemed to get the hang of it.

"Elizabeth 1 doing to the Catholics"

Ah, but Mary was far more prolific against the Church of England types. And she was far more decisive and determined.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 28, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

BTW - I think the whole Southern shtick is actually a head fake in a way.

The issue is that George Allen is basically a jerk. A certifiable A**h***. Just like someone else we all know and love. But for someone reason the Democrats hesitate in making that an issue.

GOP feels free to throw every name in the book at the Clintons or Dean or anyone else they want to destroy. But the Dems just sit their silent on a core issue.

Yeah, the guy's authentic, he's an authentic jerk.

An easy Lackoff frame.

Plus, he was a horrible governor, Warner had to clean up his and Gilmore's mess.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 28, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory:

The Democrats tossed their principles into the toilet and lined up to vote for the invasion of Iraq to save their jobs during a period when national security was a big issue. For the same reasons, the Democrats tried to sell John Kerry, a spoiled billionaire who spent much of his career after he left Vietnam crapping on the military, as a war hero. It didn't work. Get over it.

In a Zogby survey as recently as last winter, Bush still beat Kerry.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 28, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

In a Zogby survey as recently as last winter, Bush still beat Kerry.

Gee, do you think anything might have changed since then?

But, as long as we are living in the past I recall that in '92 Clinton beat Bush, and that was the 'good' Bush, too, not his delinquent son.

Posted by: Tripp on April 28, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Sky-ho, yes, Margate Intermediate School, was not technically called a jr. high, but trust me, I was there early 70s.

Posted by: Mad Blogger on April 28, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

the Democrats tried to sell John Kerry, a spoiled billionaire who spent much of his career after he left Vietnam crapping on the military, as a war hero.

Kerry's Silver Star qualifies him as a war hero, jackass, the odious lies of you and the crooks and liars you support notwithstanding. I note that you toss your allegedly pro-military principles in the toilet when it comes to supporting the politician who delivers your sweet, sweet tax cuts. Shame on you, tbrosz.

In a Zogby survey as recently as last winter, Bush still beat Kerry.

Celebrating the effectiveness of the smears hardly justifies them, tbrosz. Again, shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on April 28, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

the Democrats tried to sell John Kerry, a spoiled billionaire who spent much of his career after he left Vietnam crapping on the military, as a war hero.

I've really got to hand it to tbrosz, who can pack more dishonesty in a single sentence than most GOP apologists.

Kerry did not, of course, criticize the military over Vietnam. He criticized its civilian leadership, Republicans, who, cowards to a one, desperately and despicably tried to couch Kerry's charges as an attack on the military. tbrosz continues this odious tradition even now. Of course, he's been corrected time and again but he forges on, as acknowledging his relentless mendacity might jeapordize his laughable rationalization for his support for Republicans on national security grounds.

It amuses me to no end that tbrosz is attempting to play the tweedy reasonable commentator on some threads and the cranky, cynical "all politicans are dirty" on others where the mendacity, corruption and incompetence of his Republican party is beyond even his ability to deny, but he just can't resist letting his bountiful wellspring of dishonesty pour forth. Shame on you, tbrosz.

Posted by: Gregory on April 28, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz is a conundrum...

Give him his due. He is polite, patient and sometimes reasonable. OK, so not so often. But sometimes.

I don't think he can get past the cognitive dissonance induced by acknowledging his bottom line, which is that his politics are all about himself.

Everything else is misdirection.

Posted by: obscure on April 28, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Bingo, obscure. And he won't get past it. Ever.

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

The secret of politics is authenticity. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on April 28, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

How funny! Kevin's analysis is reasonable, then read what Digby and Crookks and Liars takes away from this piece:

(h/t David Edwards)

Digby on Allen's racist past:

"It's hard to believe that they can't find a southern Republican who isn't a sadistic idiot to run for president, but I'm beginning to think that's the real problem."

Such ass-tute commentary!

Posted by: sunbeltjerry on April 28, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Give him his due. He is polite, patient and sometimes reasonable. OK, so not so often. But sometimes.

I've always said that tbrosz is capable of debating honesty, but it's no one's failing but his that most often he chooses not to. I see no reason why tbrosz should be given a free pass for his relentless mendacity, constant straw man arguments and bottomless reservoir of intellectual dishonesty simply because he occasionally decided to conduct himself in a reasonable manner.

Posted by: Gregory on April 28, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of quick points.

Allen supposedly made a point of raising the confederate flag every morning at his Northern Virginia home. Northern Virginia, by the way, is not a particularly southern place.

The notion that the confederate flag has only recently been associated with racism is beyond laughable. Indeed, its adoption into the state flags in may southern states was directly in response, and opposition to, the Civil Rights movement.

Finally, Allen gets to play the good ol' boy just the way George Bush gets to play cowboy -- because the mainstream media lets the charade continue. Bush, born in New England, graduate of Andover, Yale and Harvard, male cheerleader, member of Skull and Bones, is as much of a cowboy as that guy in the Village People was, albeit not nearly as manly.

The faux manliness of these right wing creeps makes me a crazy man. Some days I just want to go up to Capitol Hill and start beating the crap out of these doughy white pussies.

Posted by: Authentically Fake on April 28, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

"If George Allen likes Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison album, I like George Allen already[...]".

Hate to break it to you, but I doubt Johnny would be flattered by Allen's being a fan of the record.

It is amazing how hard guys like Allen, Bush, etc. work at a pastiche of authenticity, and scarily, how often it works.

The carefully crafted public image, which is designed to show guys like this are of the people only entrenches the abstract idea of America as the place where "real" folks live and work the soil, where it is always the 1950's, and things were easier, simpler, better. This faux nostalgia is more than a disengenuous shell game: Its narcotic, because the consumption of that image is the belief that such a construction is real, and something to strive for- A bit like that episode of Star Trek where the Giant Butthead people capture others to live through them.

The problem with such a nostalgic exercise is its abstraction, which is situated in a metaphysical America, one that did not ever exist, in a fake past, is that it renders moot the present reality of The United States, the name and location of the place in the real world where we all live, struggle, and deal with icky situations in favor of a "Mayberry Matrix". You know: That place no one in the public discourse, aside from those outside of this country, ever make reference to anymore.

Posted by: The_Wizard on April 28, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK


jay: Let's see, media I guess would include CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBS, CNN, NPR, NYT, LA Times, etc. etc.. All controlled by conservatives? Wow.

"Don't believe the right-wing ideologues when they tell you the left still controls the media agenda. It does not any longer. It's a fact." Bill O'Reilly 7/26/05

"We have the media now" - Ann Coulter

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on April 29, 2006 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

I was trying to think who or what Allen reminded me of, and it finally hit me.

Allen is the real-life version of "Lonesome Rhodes", Andy Griffith's character in A Face in the Crowd.

Posted by: Wally Ballou on April 30, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Remember the good old days of the '70s and '80s, when Republicans all affected a preppy, Anglophile style?

Never thought the day would come when I'd actually be *nostalgic* for that particular brand of obnoxious cultural posturing.

Posted by: Mike on April 30, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, but it's making a comeback-you know, those horrible plaid shorts, coupled with an obnoxious izod shirt...the very definition of Simulacra.

Alex P. Keaton is alive and well. Nostalgia's on the march.

Posted by: The Wizard on April 30, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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