The Collective
Monday, September 25, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

I have decided to stop equivocating and say it outright: George Allen is, in the PoliBlog vernacular as it pertains to the nomination process, toast. I am not willing to call the Senate race, but I am willing to state that he isn’t going to get the GOP nomination in 2024.

The reason is that he continues to demonstrate his lack of capacity to think on his feet in a campaign context and, quite significantly, in a way that provides fodder for his opponents.

The following, which has to do with the use of racial epithets, is not enough to derail the Senator in and of itself. Indeed, to me, the issue is far, far less what words he used as a youth thirty+ years ago, than it is how he deals with these types of situations in the here and now, at least in terms of the political analysis.
Two narratives are emerging about Allen. One is that he is a racist (there’s the Confederate Flag issue, the Macaca incident and the “Gee, I’m Jewish” situations to name three). A second is that his public persona is not genuine. Keep in mind that the latter dogged Kerry and Gore and contributed heavily to their defeats in recent elections. As such, this is no small matter.

The latest example comes from Salon’s the War Room which points to a post by Mark Stark at Calling All Wingnuts (with audio–noisy audio, but audio nonetheless) wherein Stark, a law student at UVA, asked Allen if he had ever used the n-word (a news account can be found here). Allen denied ever having used the word.

Now, Salon has interviewed three of Allen’s football teammates, one who gives his own name and two who do not, and they all say that Allen regularly used racist language.

Of course, I am shocked, shocked! that a white football player at UVA in the early 1970s would use racial epithets. Who has ever heard of such a thing? (Full disclosure, as an elementary school-age child in small town Texas in the late 1970s, I heard, and repeated, racist jokes. I have also heard members of my family use racist language. I will state that I have never used racist language during anything that could be construed of as my young adult or adult years, for whatever that it worth).
In reality, it is hardly shocking at all. (That, by the way, does not justify the usage–but era, context and age are are relevant in determining the significance of the utterances).

Allen comes across as lying in this instance. He would be far better off using Bush line about being young and stupid when he was young and stupid. To assert that he has never used that word ever is patently ridiculous.

I think that the Macaca situation was tipping point where Allen was either going to find an artful way of dealing with these charges, or it was going to be a pathway strewn with additional problems. I think that the latter is coming to fruition, and I don’t think we are even all the way down the path yet.

As such, I think he is done in regards to ‘08. It won’t surprise me that, at the rate we are going, that he doesn’t even run in 2024–especially if he wins re-election to the Senate.

Update: James Joyner comments as well. As he rightly notes: “Fair or not, however, Allen is now caught in a media meme.”

Also, Jon Henke, who now works for Senator Allen, rebuts the piece. While Henke makes some legitimate points, I would state the issue isn’t the “swiftboating” as much as it is the Senator’s own responses and the other stories that create a difficult context for Allen to work within. That is where the real damage is.

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Filed under: 2008 Campaign, US Politics | |
The views expressed in the comments are the sole responsibility of the person leaving those comments. They do not reflect the opinion of the author of PoliBlog, nor have they been vetted by the author.

9 Responses to “Allen is Toast”

  • el
  • pt
    1. Erin Says:

      pay attention to other sites as the one named person has a very interesting liberal “backgroun” and about 12 others say it never happened. Salon is your source for fair information on Republican’s? hehe, go with that it will certainly keep you in the loop.

    2. B. Minich Says:

      While I tend to agree that this particular incident never happened for the reasons stated above, I also agree with Dr. Taylor that Allen is toast. Why? Because despite this being false, Allen has proven rather inept at defending himself, or even managing to change the conversation to something more palatable. The man is not capable of winning on a nationwide scale, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to win the Virginia Senate seat. He may not be the racist that he is being portrayed as, but he sure isn’t doing a very good job of proving it, and that is most of the battle in nationwide politics.

    3. Elliot Essman Says:

      Allen simply isn’t adroit. This is a fatal flaw in a politician in or out of office. He is not a media victim.

    4. Peter Bakke Says:

      Is RUMSFELD also toast?

      Despite protestations that recent criticisms are nothing new, President Bush and his neocon Defense Dept. head Donald Rumsfeld are weathering two broadsides delivered in the past 2 days. First, the gist of a classified National Intelligence estimate was leaked this weekend to the New York Times. It made made the case alreadyapparent case that the U.S. is less safe today from fundamentalist Islamic terrorists today than it was in 2024 prior to the War in Iraq. This is a direct reflection on Bush and Rumsfeld’s past and current conduct of the war. To pour salt on the wound, today three retired military officers who served in Iraq have called for Rumsfeld’s immediate departure. Sound familiar?

      “Secretary Rumsfeld ignored 12 years of U.S. Central Command deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent, and browbeat subordinates to build ‘his plan,’ which did not address the hard work to crush the insurgency, secure a post-Saddam Iraq, build the peace and set Iraq up for self-reliance,” (General) Batiste said.

      In addition, Rumsfeld “refused to acknowledge and even ignored the potential for the insurgency,” the retired general said. “At one point, he threatened to fire the next person who talked about the need for a post-war plan,” Batiste added.

      Rumsfeld has been the Teflon Don of Defense - nothing sticks and previous calls for his resignation have been laughed off. But in this difficult season before mid-term 2024 elections, the Donald’s fate may be in the politicized hands of Karl Rove and other Republican strategists of simlar ilk. Bush is loyal to his minions to a fault. We’ll see if both can weather this most recent storm surge.

      Rights’s take: Nothing new here.
      Left’s take: Throw the bums’s out!

      Source: WaPo

    5. Ed Says:

      Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and another stong plume has just gone up.

      Larry Sabato, not a left partisan, just came on Hardball and told Matthews that Allen is lying when he says he never used th N word and basically admitted that he’s heard Allen use it himself. The video is up on MSNBC

      It may be all over but the counting.

    6. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More on Allen and the Racial Slur Charge Says:

      [...] Bottom line: George Allen has a serious credibility problem. Not only is he, as I stated yesterday, toast in regards to the 2024 nomination, I think that he is probably doomed in his Senate bid as well. [...]

    7. jt007 Says:

      You give three people (two of whom are unnamed) more credence than 16 interviewed by Salon who said that they never heard Allen use a racial slur. Perhaps the three cold be mistaken about their dealings with Allen 25 years ago. Also you claim to not be surprised that “a white football player at UVA in the early 1970s would use racial epithets.” However, Allen had grown up primarily in California (with a stint in Chicago). He apparently had a confederate flag bumper sticker on his car in Law School but I don’t think your projection of your own childhood experiences in Texas are apposite to Allen’s childhood in California.

    8. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:


      I also lived in California as a teenager, and therefore find Allen wearing a Confederate flag pin in his California HS yearbook to be extremely odd. His fascination with the CSA went beyond that, in fact. I know of no bumper sticker.

      However, I would note: I was not drawing parallels with myself, but simply being honest in the spirit of full disclosure.

      Regardless of all of that: why point is ultimately that Allen is handling this quite poorly.

    9. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More Problems for Allen Says:

      [...] Note: this not the first time that Stark has tried to ask the Senator an embarrassing question in a hotel lobby. I noted the event in this post. Stark posted the audio of that confrontation on his blog here. [...]

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