Wednesday, August 16, 2006

George Allen Only Pretending To Be Stupid

Probably the main reason President Bush won two elections, according to political pundits, was that he met what they decided was the most important criterion to voters in choosing a President; that is, that he be someone you would like to have a beer with (although the President would probably order a Dr. Pepper since he doesn't drink). Of all the prospective candidates for the 2008 presidential election, Virginia Senator George Allen is probably the best beer-drinking buddy in the race, which is why many pundits see him as one of the frontrunners. In fact, he's the kind of guy you would probably want to have five or six beers with.

But as Mel Gibson can tell you, sometimes after having five or six beers we say things that require elaborate and convoluted explanations to prove that what we said didn't really mean what it sounded like it meant. That George Allen is able to accomplish this without actually having drunk five or six beers proves that he is definitely the man to beat in 2008.

While campaigning for the Senate in southwest Virginia, Allen spoke eloquently of his desire to run a campaign based on "positive, constructive ideas" and as an example of his sunny outlook, he good-naturedly pointed out an operative from the campaign of his opponent Jim Webb who was videotaping the appearance. "This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great," he said, warmly welcoming the young man, S.R. Sidarth, who is of Indian extraction but was born in Fairfax County, which is considered by some to be a part of Virginia. "Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia," he continued.

Unfortunately, some people have taken Sen. Allen's friendly, welcoming words as some sort of racial slur. First of all, one of the qualities Allen shares with President Bush is his delight in making up obscure, endearing nicknames for people, which is not only charming but has the added advantage of saving them from having to pronounce complicated or foreign-sounding names. In addition, as others have pointed out, it would be stupid for Allen to actually make a racial slur directed at someone who is videotaping you. This sort of thing is much better said into a microphone you didn't know was on.

Even though Sen. Allen denies he was making a racist remark or even singling out Sidarth for his foreignness in a place where he was the only non-white person, he nevertheless apologized for saying it immediately after video of these remarks surfaced on the Internet. "I would never want to demean him as an individual," Allen said. "I do apologize if he's offended by that." By adding the words "if he's offended by that," Allen cleverly put the onus on Sidarth to prove he is not one of those tiresomely sensitive minorities who gets offended by everything.

What was perhaps most interesting about Allen's remarks, and what gives us the greatest insight into his intellect, is that Allen claims that he has no idea what "macaca" means. At first Allen suggested that the name might have derived from a nickname his staff gave Sidarth, "Mohawk," although Sidarth, in fact, has a mullet, not a Mohawk. If, indeed, that is true, it just demonstrates that Allen's campaign is run by real men who don't know the first thing about hairstyles. Others have pointed out that, however, that the word "macaca," which is another word for macaque, a kind of monkey, is used as a racial slur in Tunisia, which is where Allen's mother is from. Some of Allen's defenders indignantly pointed out that to claim he heard this word from his mother is to claim his mother is a racist and of course there is nothing more egregious in a political campaign than to insult a candidate's mother, who I am sure is a fine woman who wears a respectable Republican cloth coat.

Sadly, this incident is just going to revive suspicions that Allen is not as sensitive about racial issues as he should be, which were first raised in a New Republic article that pointed out that Allen has long had an obsession with the Confederacy, displaying Confederate flags "on himself, his car, inside his home--or expressed his enthusiastic approval of the emblem from approximately 1967 to 2000." And while some conservatives are defending Allen as best they can, many are backing away from him. Rich Lowry wrote on The Corner that it shows Allen has a "mean streak." Writing on Reason's blog Hit and Run, Jeff A. Taylor claims that this incident demonstrates Allen's "utter stupidity" and reveals that he "does not have the wattage to man a deep fryer support line in Bangalore, let alone serve responsibly in the U.S. Senate."

But while some claim that this incident demonstrates that Allen is, to put it kindly, intellectually challenged, Jerry Fuhrman of the Virginia blog From On High proves that it actually shows how smart Allen really is. Fuhrman claims that according to an English-Hindi dictionary he happened to have handy, "macaca" is a Hindi word for "one who goes around with chip on shoulder and foot in mouth." So, in fact, Allen was making a very clever joke in Hindi and perhaps the reason for his admittedly lame explanations is that he is just too humble about his intellectual prowess. And it must be said that in a state like Virginia, where one town recently voted out council members who were perceived as being too cozy with illegal immigrants, bilingualism might be seen as a liability. Most people also prefer that their drinking buddies not be too much smarter than they are so Allen probably prefers to keep his highly sophisticated intellect on the down low. Contrary to Ed Morrissey's claim on Captain's Quarters that Allen "can probably stick a fork in his hopes for the time being" of being President, I think this incident may actually enhance his chances. I mean, who wouldn't want a President who is only pretending to be stupid?

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Anonymous said...

This post is juuust convoluted enough to qualify you as a speech writer for Allen.


If Allen has a "mean streak" as Lowry avers, well, for a president/presidential candidate, that's a plus in my book. We NEED someone with a mean streak a mile wide in the White House. Someone who will call fools fools, Islamic terrorists Muslims and political B.S. by its rightful name as well.

But alas! Allen has no such substantive mean streak. In fact, the only person who's name is in the hat (though not formally, of course) for 08 with a REALLY big mean streak is Hillary, but she's such a snake that she'd never use it for the good of the country, but only to enhance her power.

Disenchanted Dave said...

It's a good thing most Americans don't have any problems with racism or understanding foreigners.

Mark Prime (tpm/Confession Zero) said...

I mean, who wouldn't want a President who is only pretending to be stupid?


Anonymous said...

Great Post.

I thought Sen. Allen's comments were unbelievable. Reminded me of being a "Jungle Bunny" in third grade.

In any case, I made up some funny t-shirts and other stuff to celebrate the end of Allen's campaign. Thought you might want to check it out.

I'm donating 30% of the profit to Allen's competitor, Democratic candidate Jim Webb.

Anonymous said...

I'm sitting next to a indian (from fairfax county thank you very much), or a macaca as you may put it, and he says there is no word like macaca in the hindi language and it certainly doens't mean one who goes around with chip on shoulder and foot in mouth. looks like you made shit up, you stupid honky inbred racist.

(mmmm... stereotypes are fun!)

Anonymous said...

This post was poorly reasoned, but it doesn't mean that it was wrong. Allen has to appeal to his yahoos-- the core base who will re-elect him. Code words show that he remains the same good ol' boy they elected in the first place; that the politics of the beltway haven't dulled the gleaming edge of his whiteyness.

Jaesoreal said...

Speechless at the responses

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm not the only one who thought George Allen might have been deliberately trying to do something with the macaca comment, although I didn't totally get your logic about "pretending to be stupid"... Any thoughts on whether he was deliberately singling out the person of color in the room for laughs as a way of drawing attention to the fact that Jim Webb's wife is Asian-American? I wouldn't put it past Allen after the Confederate flag stuff... the most upsetting part of the whole thing for me was the "Welcome to America" thing - poor Sidarth was raised in Fairfax County!

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

I didn't know Webb's wife was Asian-American (after a few beers I might use a shorter term). Thanks for that information. Not that it will affect my vote, of course.

While I'm commenting - the "word verification" here is not really a word at all, at least this time.

OutOfContext said...

I didn't vote for George Bush because he was someone I wanted to have a beer with. I voted for Dick Cheney because he's the kind of guy I wouldn't dare have a drink with (especially around firearms).

I totally agree with you on Allen, he's stupid like a fox (news anchor). Like Bush, he's smart enough, to have left his liberal birthplace (Cullyfornia) and self-make himself into a good-old boy, ultimately graduating with honors from University of Virginia. His embrace of the Confederacy is clearly an effort at connecting with his adopted persona--you call that dumb?

This guy's tough. His sister writes in her book (haven't read it) that she became afraid of heights after he held her over the rail at Niagara Falls. This man can inspire fear (not the "omigod there's nobody at the wheel fear of some presidents" but the Steely Fear we need).

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but there's no law against a VP being elected indefinitely. Mark my words and let the world beware...Allen/Cheney '08.

As for this Macaca crap, his big mistake was being too cute--Next time, he'll wait for a photo-op at South River falls and Mr. Sidarth will get the message.

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