As a general rule, I try to cut public figures a little slack when they say a no-no. Anyone can commit a verbal blunder, even one that sounds bigoted. Not every off-the-cuff remark is a window to the soul.
But some can be and Tim Grieve at Salon is absolutely on target in arguing that in the case of the increasingly creepy appearing George Allen, the evidence of actual racial malice is growing at an alarming rate.
Are we making too much of “macaca”?
The case could be made — if George Allen weren’t the kind of guy who wore a Confederate flag on his shirt in high school, kept a Confederate flag in his living room at home and featured a Confederate flag, ever so subtly, in a campaign ad; if Allen hadn’t opposed the 1991 Civil Rights Act and a holiday commemorating the life of Martin Luther King Jr.; if Allen hadn’t hung a noose in his office; and if Allen hadn’t courted the modern-day equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan while serving as the governor of Virginia.
That last little window into what it means to be George Allen comes courtesy of the Nation, which has unearthed a 1996 photograph of the then governor posing with National Rifle Association spokesman Charlton Heston and a couple of the leaders of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which the magazine describes as “the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups.”
George Allen used up all the slack he’s entitled to a long time ago. The man’s a disgrace. And he has no business in the United States Senate, let alone the White House.