Monday, July 03, 2006

down home they call me Jim

from Friday's Daily Howler(Bob Somerby):
Somerby: PUT UP YOUR DUKES: The Washington Post is disturbed by all the recent “Blather in Virginia.” Here’s the opening paragraph... It concerns a recent fight between Jim Webb and George Allen:

WaPo OpEd: (6/30/06): Virginia’s U.S. Senate race is all of two weeks old, and already the debate between the Republican incumbent, George Allen, and his Democratic rival, Jim Webb, has descended into a trench of cynicism and puerility. In the past few days we have been treated to a stomach-turning (if coded) squabble over patriotism and to one candidate mocking the other's middle name. These are not the bare-knuckled blasts of a tough electoral fight; this is blather masquerading as political dialogue.

Somerby:Go ahead and read their review—but our own reaction is quite different. What happened in the incident under review? Something very unusual. A Republican (Allen) behaved quite typically, taunting a Democrat about a pointless “character” matter. And omigod! In response, the Democrat (Webb) punched the Rep right in the nose! For years, we’ve all watched Republicans play these cards (in this case, about that flag-burning amendment). But we don’t know when we’ve seen a Dem respond in so lusty a fashion. In various ways, this is exactly what Dems need to do, to the George Allens—and to the Ann Coulters.
Somerby goes on to recommend this article. He only links to it, but here's an excerpt:

from the Hampton Roads Daily Press:
"Webb rips into Allen over flag"

Allen campaign manager Dick Wadhams had accused Webb of being "beholden to liberal Washington senators" because he was against the Allen-supported flag-burning amendment to the Constitution that died in the Senate on Tuesday. Webb considered the comments to be an attack on his patriotism because he objects to tinkering with the First Amendment.

"George Felix Allen Jr. and his bush-league lapdog, Dick Wadhams, have not earned the right to challenge Jim Webb's position on free speech and flag burning," Webb spokesman Steve Jarding said in a press release. "Jim Webb served and fought for our flag and what it stands for, while George Felix Allen Jr. chose to cut and run. "When he and his disrespectful campaign puppets attack Jim Webb, they are attacking every man and woman who served. Their comments are nothing more than weak-kneed attacks by cowards."

Webb was a Marine in Vietnam, serving as a rifle-platoon leader and company commander. He received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, Jarding noted.

Wadhams said he was surprised that Webb was offended."I didn't think anybody attacked his patriotism," Wadhams said. "I don't see how anybody could attack Jim Webb's patriotism."
The attack was by "implication," explained Kristian Denny Todd, Webb's press secretary.
"This is straight out of the Republican playbook ... taking a candidate's strength and trying to turn it into a weakness," Denny Todd said. "It's what Chris LaCivita did with Swift Boats against John Kerry."

LaCivita helped orchestrate the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" attacks during the 2004 Bush campaign. He now works for Allen.
"It's been said that Democrats aren't willing to fight back in campaigns," Denny Todd said. "Well, we're willing. We're not letting them get away with it."
"The whole point of this is to keep Jim Webb from being 'Swift-Boated' like John Kerry was," said Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia.
"Webb will not be smash-mouthed by GOP operatives. I think this is a tough, aggressive attack that hits Allen in one of his weak spots."

emphases are mine, but you probably guessed this. I've discussed George Allen before(here), albeit just in passing. -JV