To the People

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Senate Candidate Sticks Foot Penis in Mouth

I'm one of most jaded motherfuckers living in DC. So I'm rarely surprised when a politician does something disgusting, evil or incompetent. But the Virginia U.S. Senate race has changed all that. Senator George Allen (R), who up to recently was my favorite 2008 Republican Presidential candidate (but now I hope he loses his election and kills himself in disgrace), is now attacking his opponent for things he wrote in his novels. It's bad enough to take something your opponent said out of context; it's out right despicable to take something a fictional character in one of their books said and use it out context. But George Allen is a career politician with dreams of ruling all of America; so he apparently doesn't lose sleep taking paragraphs like the following from his opponent's novels and sending them to voters out of context:
"A shirtless man walked toward them along a mud pathway. His muscles were young and hard, but his face was devastated with wrinkles. His eyes were so red that they appeared to be burned by fire. A naked boy ran happily toward him from a little plot of dirt. The man grabbed his young son in his arms, turned him upside down, and put the boy's penis in his mouth."
Startling? Yes. Disgusting? If read out of context, perhaps. But as Radley Balko has pointed out, there is nothing sexual about this scene. In fact, that's a somewhat common non-sexual greeting in Vietnam, where the story takes places. In any event, nothing written in a novel should be used to impinge a candidate's character. What's next? Running attack ads against Stephen King accusing him of supporting violence in schools because he wrote "Carrie"?

I think Radley Balko said it best:

Let's summarize: While George Allen was discovering his love for the Confederacy in Southern California and at the University of Virginia, Jim Webb was fighting the war in Vietnam, finding himself wholly immersed in a completely foreign culture. Webb was obviously rather profoundly affected by that experience. Because he chose to write about it, in a series of books that have won widespread praise from politicians, from fellow Vietnam vets, and from literary critics.

But war-loving, flag-waving George Allen has decided to hold all of that against Jim Webb. Tonight, Allen took what was clearly a scene-painting, cultural passage from one of those books, grotesquely took it out of context and sexualized it, then slapped it on a press release in an attempt to cheapen Webb's well-received books as cheap porn with hints of pedophelia.

This isn't just a political attack. It's an attack on art. On writing. On expression. Hell, it's an attack on knowledge and learning. It's cheap and tawdry and cynical.

Perhaps if George Allen hadn't himself procured a student deferment from the Vietnam War, he'd be more familiar with the country's culture, and wouldn't bastardize the work of a man who did fight, and who saw to share his experiences with the rest of us -- Allen and his campaign of course announcing and advertising their own willfull stupidity in the process.


You can read more of Radley's excellent coverage of this issue here, here, here and here.

Whatever right George Allen had to describe himself as "Jeffersonian" and "libertarian leaning" has been lost. Forever. Here's hoping the voters turn him upside down and bite his head off on election day.

Ps. Bourdain for President!