"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)



Those of you lucky enough to not be living inside the Beltway this summer probably aren't having to hear as much commentary on Virginia Senator George Allen's, um, unfortunate comment at an election rally last Friday. I've read way too many stories about it this week, but I just got around to watching the video today.

Wow. I don't know what to say. It's much more offensive than I expected. And it' s really hard to believe that he wasn't using a racial distinction to play politics after seeing the clip and reading this. "Welcome to America" is far more offensive (especially when the guy is a native Virginian) than whatever "macaca" means.

I've met George Allen, and had to deal with his staff when I was a Senate intern and he was a new senator. They were pretty clueless, as are most new members of Congress. The thing that always disturbed me about the office, though, was that Allen's staff seemed willing to do whatever Helms's people told them to do. That kind of follow-the-party-line thinking is bad for our democracy, so I lost respect for Allen pretty early on.

This little incident hasn't done much to change that. How can you run for office in modern America and not have a clue about this stuff? How dumb do you have to be to say something (when you know you're being videotaped) that has the potential to alienate a huge percentage of your electorate? And how can you run as a family-values Christian when you're willing to say something that denigrates someone who was made in the image of God?


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