Monday, September 18, 2006

A Spin Control Tutorial, Or Why Jim Webb Can Beat George Allen Jr. In Virginia

Meet The Press Debate Revealed An Empty Vessel In The Incumbent's Chair
In the Virginia Senate race, it's the dark horse vs. the guy who rides a horse.
The former would be Democrat Jim Webb, political neophyte cum war hero going up against Bush lapdog George (my Dad was a football icon and thank goodness he named me after him) Allen Jr.
Allen's got more name recognition, more money and the advantage of incumbency, but nothing is forever as the latest polls show.
Ideology aside, Webb should win in a landslide if yesterday's debate on "Meet The Press" is any indication.
From a rhetorical perspective, Webb gave Allen a big-time pimp slap that should convince the Allen camp to stick a prod in their candidate and give him some life.
Webb was plain-spoken and forceful in his opposition to the Iraq war and concisely explained to Tim Russert why he supported Allen in 2000 but not now.
In response, Allen offered up political bromides, using the tired tactic of referring to Webb, who was sitting right next to him, as "my opponent," rather than "Jim" or "Mr. Webb," as if people would somehow forget his name if he didn't utter it.
When Russert repeatedly pressed him on his unyielding support for the war and would he do it again if he knew that the CIA had concluded there was no Saddam-al Qaeda link, he bobbed, weaved and bumbled rather than offer a straight answer.
Allen has been consistent in saying he voted for the war out of loyalty to the country, not Bush, and he went back to that sawhorse yesterday -- never really explaining what the hell that means in the first place.
As for the "Macaca" crack, Allen took himself to the woodshed, even though he denied knowing it was a racist slur. "There was no racial or ethnic intent at slurring .... It was just made up, made up words" and said he had never heard of the word before.
And what about that Confederate flag you once kept in your house along with a noose at his law office?
In the session's "duh" moment, he offered: "I wish I had experiences in life earlier and I would have made decisions differently" and insisted, without conviction but with copious amounts of platitudes that he really, really likes black people and others who don't look exactly like him.
Somewhere, Allen's press handlers must have been looking for a noose of their own. It couldn't have gone any worse for their man.
Somewhere else, those at the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee should be looking in their till and give what they have to Webb. It's not often they get a candidate running against an opponent too distracted from the foot that keeps getting stuck in his mouth.

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