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George Allen Made A Monkey Out Of Me

Well, it is time for some accountability at Eunomia.  Last month when the macaca business began in the Virginia Senate race, I laughed it off and said with certainty that it would have no effect on Allen’s re-election or his future presidential fortunes.  Here were some of my remarks on 15 August, which now look positively dim-witted:

It’s easy to pick on predictions, but this one seems to be begging for a little ridicule.  Except for the 1-2% of the country that actively worries about presidential primaries two years before they happen, not only will no one will remember Allen’s odd, apparently ill-chosen “macaca/macaque” reference during this campaign come ‘08, but I doubt strongly that Virginia Senate voters will remember it in three months’ time.  The Plank is getting excited at the thought of Allen jeopardising his re-election with this.  Give me a break.  I like Jim Webb and I think he’s excellent on the war, but right now it’s going to take a lot more than an obscure French racial slur to bring George Allen’s campaign down.

Oops.  Well, you live and learn.  What I have learned from this mistake is to never expect very much from public opinion and assume that the most trivial, irrelevant “scandals” will be the most important for the outcome of the election.  Underhanded deals with the Chinese?  Aggressive war?  Torture?  Massive incompetence?  Culture of corruption?  Not important.  Macaca?  Important. 

Obviously, I underestimated the power of The Washington Post, the stupidity of the Allen campaign, the silliness of the public and the political importance of a truly frivolous controversy.  Now not only is Allen on the ropes in a tied race that he should have won in a walk, as detailed in a new Weekly Standard article (hat tip: Jim Antle), but he has every chance of suffering an embarrassingly sizeable loss as late-deciding voters go for the challenger.  Since I have come to take a dim view of Mr. Allen, I don’t much care that he may lose (in fact, I am hopeful that he will), but it cannot say very much for our political system if something this insignificant can change the course of elections.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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