Saturday, October 28, 2006

Piling On: George Allen - Spitter

Emails began pouring in earlier today about a rumor on Capitol Hill about some trouble in Sen. George Allen's (R-VA) divorce file. Josh Marshall and others cannot get a response from the Allen campaign. A very reputable political reporter tells me this isn't from Democratic opposition research and that it's probably coming out because many feel Allen "crossed the line" when he started talking about Jim Webb's novels. I'm told divorce records are usually sealed for two reasons: (a) to protect kids; and (b) to protect large financial fortunes. Neither situation applies in Allen's case, so the suspicion is that it's something not very nice. A clue might be in Ryan Lizza's recent piece on Mark Warner that cites a story that had been "making the rounds" about a 2008 presidential contender who "once spit on his wife." That rumor was also about Allen.

Allen is a renowned spitter. A former reporter posted a diary at DailyKos based on a column she wrote for a paper in Virginia:

I stepped near the governor and smiled, told him my name and that I wrote for the local newspaper. Then I asked him a softball question, what some reporters call a "set-up."

"Does Southwest Virginia need these jobs?" I asked.

He stopped and looked straight at me. He had to look down at me, because he stood so tall in those cowboy boots. I thought I spotted a twinkle in his eye, and for a moment, I suspected he might give a humorous, light-hearted answer. Then he leaned forward and looked all the way down at the pavement. I figured he was planning a perfectly crafted answer to my question. I put pen to paper, ready to take it down. His lips puckered as if he might speak.

Then, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia gathered up a glob of tobacco-laced saliva. He used his lips to squirt it out, as if he had practiced. The spit landed just at the tip of my shoe. He grinned, but didn't say a word. Then he walked into the building.

LSB: In the final days of the campaigns it seems that everything in the “opposition research files” is coming to light. Some of it sheds light on a candidate’s character, and some just seems to be silly.

Allen is clearly trying to link Webb’s fictionalized accounts of the sexual deviations he saw in Viet Nam (when is that war ever gonna be over?) with the salacious accounts of the recent GOP exploits. Allen is also highlighting Webb’s report where he wrote negatively about the role of women in the military. First, both of these pieces were written more than 30 years ago. Second, Webb’s books were praised by Sen. John McCain, another Viet Nam veteran. (Allen never served in the military in any capacity.) Third, flash forward 30 years and look at the highest levels of Webb’s campaign staff and you’ll find more women in prominent positions than in the Allen campaign staff. That, to me, reflects a personal growth.

This "spitting" stuff is just silly, especially if it is anything like the erroneous reports that Allen had a black lab named Sambo and a cat named Buckwheat. If this spitting stuff is true, however, that behavior is childish and unbecoming a U.S. Senator.

What I really want to know is that if Webb's fictional books can be drawn into the debate, why isn't George Allen's secret arrest record fair game, too? In fact, isn’t an arrest record even more relevant? Shouldn’t the voters have a right to know more about the man who wants to represent them in the Senate? Why is this arrest record secret – shouldn’t it be public information? Shortly after an arrest warrant for him was issued in 1974 (roughly the same time period as Webb’s book was written), Allen applied for membership in the Virginia Bar Association and had to detail his arrest record. If the original arrest record is missing Allen can clear up the controversy over his arrest records by simply making the Bar Association documents public. If this is just about parking tickets or a lapsed fishing license, as Allen’s aides have suggested, then what’s the big deal? Clear it up for us, George – release the information on your arrest.

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