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James Webb Accused of Anti-Semitism in Democratic Primary

Former Reagan Navy Secretary and now Democratic Senate hopeful from Virginia James Webb is being accused of anti-Semitism for a flier produced against his opponent Harris Miller.

Senate candidate James H. Webb, President Reagan’s former Navy secretary, was criticized by his Jewish opponent Friday over a campaign flier that depicted the opponent with a hooked nose and cash spilling from his pockets. The flier was intended for distribution among labor groups. It was titled “Miller the Job Killer,” referring to Webb’s opponent for the Democratic nomination in Tuesday’s primary, businessman Harris Miller.

The flier, drawn in comic-book cartoon style, depicts Miller with a grotesquely hooked nose and cash overflowing from his suit pockets as he orders an underling to find ways to export U.S. jobs overseas. The flier refers to Miller as the “anti-Christ of outsourcing.”

Miller called it “despicable.” “One of the things I hoped we would keep out of this campaign, because it has nothing to do with the campaign, is my religion and my background,” Miller said.

Webb said the flier was not intended to disparage Miller’s religion or heritage and apologized if it was perceived that way. “I would not in any way look at that and say that it was anti-Semitic. Harris is the one who’s played the race card in this campaign by distorting my views on affirmative action,” said Webb, a Republican-turned-Democrat and best-selling author.

While I would love to see Miller defeat Webb in the primary, since I think Webb would be the much tougher opponent for my preferred candidate, incumbent Senator George Allen, there’s nothing in his past that would suggest anti-Semitism.

Joe Gandelman has some images that are indeed disturbing. That someone in 2006 would think they were anything but anti-Semitic is hard to fathom. They are, however, not the image from the flier!

Here’s the actual image, via NRO:

James Webb Anti-Jewish Flier

Not particularly offensive, I’d say. Sure, it plays to the stereotype that Jews are “money grubbing.” But there’s a pretty good reason for that in this case: Miller is being accused of trying to buy the election.

Senate Democratic hopeful Harris Miller pumped $250,000 more of his own money into his campaign this week, bringing to nearly $1 million the amount of his personal fortune invested in his nomination battle against former Navy Secretary James Webb. The new financial disclosure, filed with the Federal Election Commission, means that Miller – a multimillionaire telecommunications executive – will likely outspend Webb by a wide margin in the final days leading up to Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

The winner of that contest will challenge Republican Sen. George Allen in November.

The Webb campaign, which has accused Miller of trying to buy the election, stepped up its attack Friday, after learning of the additional money. “This guarantees that if elected in this primary, Harris Miller will lose miserably to George Allen,” Webb spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd said. “Miller can’t get other people to give him money to do this dirty work, so he uses his own money to do it.”

A Miller aide offered no apologies, noting that the Fairfax businessman and lobbyist had outraised Webb over the course of the campaign, even after excluding personal contributions. “We feel good about the amount of money we’ve raised,” Miller spokeswoman Taylor West said. Financial reports show that Webb raised about $100,000 more than Miller did in the last reporting period, excluding Miller’s personal investment.

When Miller filed his statement of candidacy in January, he indicated on that form he had no intention of spending any of his own money for his primary election. Now, nearly $1 million later, intentions have clearly changed.

In this light, the flier hardly seems out of bounds. Indeed, the cartoon is a pretty good likeness of Harris Miller:

Harris Miller

It seems to me the one who is being “despicable” here is Miller, who’s using bogus anti-Semitism charges in a desperate attempt to save a campaign he thought he’d win walking away.

UPDATE: Dean Esmay, Radley Balko, Dennis at CV, and Not Larry Sabato agree. The latter provides a PDF of the whole ad and this side-by-side photo indicating that the cartoon might actually have been a tracing.

Miller Comparison

I’ve saved the PDF for archival purposes and also saved it as a GIF, which I’ve thumbnailed below.

James Webb Anti-Jewish Flier Complete

You’ll have to click again at the link because of the large file size and the vagaries of WordPress.

UPDATE: In addition to the flap over the cartoon imagery, there is some discussion about the flier’s reference to Miller as “the anti-Christ of outsourcing.” An obvious anti-Semitic slur, right? Jews as Christ Killers? Well, no. Googling around, it’s pretty clear that the coinage was from the AFL-CIO which, while not an organization of which I’m particularly fond, has no taint of racial or ethnic animus. The flier contains a footnote to the 1/09/2006 issue of Information Week (which upon second look was buttressing Miller’s assertion that “outsourcing is good for the American economy,” not the anti-Christ quote. Nonetheless, I located the article and, sure enough, the opening line begins, “Harris Miller, aka the Antichrist if you’re an unemployed IT worker . . . .”

Move along folks. Nothing to see here.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.


  1. The A-Team says:

    a conference together with people who have said offensive things. He’s campaigned with one. He shared the stage with Rep. Jim ‘if it weren’t for the jews‘ Moran. The media asked Jim Webb nothing. Considering the Webb campaign’s own brush with accusations of anti-semitism, their current “pattern of intimidation and intolerance“, why isn’t the media holding Jim Webb accountable for his friends?

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  2. The flier, drawn in comic-book cartoon style, depicts Miller with a grotesquely hooked nose and cash overflowing from his suit pockets as he orders an underling to find ways to export U.S. jobs overseas.              Leave A Comment »

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  3. but, on all of these issues except abortion, the changes have been too recent and public. I think the Democrats should go with the more consistent candidate whose only party sin that I can see is being involved with an outsourcing of technology jobs.Finally, the Miller people seem to have managed to tag Webb as something of an anti-semite close to the primary. I don’t think the accusations are based in reality, but I think the attack has stuck in some people’s minds. However, Virginia’s worst congressman,

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  4. Defending Ann Coulter I’m not a big fan of Coulter. But Dafydd at Big Lizards makes a strong defense of her in this post. After reading it, I have to say that he makes her case better than se does.Defending James Webb I am a big fan of James Webb. His primary opponent has tried to portray him as anti-semitic. Some in the blogosphere have fallen for it. Outside the Beltway shows why they are wrong. Richard Hofstadter

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  5. Blogniscient says:

    Michelle Malkin | 6/11/2006 15:45:59 Ive been offline much of the weekend–a healthy thing every once in a while. The Haditha story continues to unfold. Allah Pundit is on top of all the… [IMG Right]Somali Islamists Ban World Cup

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  6. JOE GANDELMAN notes a serious fumble for James Webb. I’ve always liked Webb, based on his books, but his campaign seems a bit rocky. Calling someone the Antichrist is right out, though. UPDATE: James Joyner says it’smuch ado about nothing.

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  7. […] Joe Gandelman has a post about a campaign flyer that was written in response to an AP article published in Forbes. It would appear that Gandelman wrote the entire post based on that article. And I think he got sucker-punched by the AP's manufactured controversy. After reading his take, I looked at the actual fliers over at Captain Ed's place and read what James Joyner had to say about it, too. The cartoon in question is not offensive or stereotypical and is actually a fairly accurate rendering of the actual person. That's it's also juvenile and a pretty lame piece of campaign literature is also quite evident. […]

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  8. inkling says:

    Beware the Instalanche! While I appreciate that some might not think this is anti-semitic, it looks that way to my eyes.

    I was at first skeptical about the claims of racism. However, after seeing the nose, combined with “anti-Christ”, money symbols and cigars, “blame it on technology while count my money,” and Webb calling him “Killer” (right across from the anti-Christ mention, I might add)… it’s just too much imagery to be an coincidence, IMHO.

    While you couldn’t prove racism in a court of law, Webb is too smart and highly educated to claim ignorance about the history behind these kinds of smears. I think he’s playing dirty pool to appeal to his view of what motivates rural Southern voters. Thankfully, I don’t think it will work.

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  9. More On Senate Candidate Webb And The Cartoon…

    Yesterday we ran this post about a story about Virginia Senate candidate James Webb’s campaign having put out a cartoon that his Jewish opponent considered antisemitic.


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  10. Mike says:
  11. […] Outside the Beltway.   […]

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  12. red says:

    It looks like a duck and quacks like a duck. Yep, its a duck. The ‘anti-christ’ reference and the hitlerian assistant sunk it for me.

    I think that a law should be passed that calling your opponent the Anti-Christ automatically disqualifies your candidacy. We need to have some basic respect for each other, even Democrats in a Democratic primary.

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  13. observer 5 says:

    The cartoon looks like Miller, end of story.

    This “controversy” is a last minute hit on Webb by the Republicans, who are very afraid of him.

    Miller will be easily beaten by Allen, on the other hand.

    The hit is so crude it may backfire and sweep Webb to victory, though.

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  14. submandave says:

    I’m confused. Is the new rule that it is OK to call your opponent money-grubbing as long as he’s not Jewish? If this flyer is anti-semetic then it is racist to call a black man stupid, as it plays to a stereotype of inferior intelligence. News flash: a Jewish person can be money-grubbing just like anyone else. This flyer carries no hint of anti-semetism unless one already knows Miller is Jewish, and I see no evidence anyone has made a big deal of this.

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  15. Dean's World says:

    Buying An Election in Virginia…

    Over the weekend Joe Gandelman posted this charge about Jim Webb, Democratic contender in the party’s primary tomorrow. His challenger, Harris Miller, made mill……

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  16. Missy says:

    Of course, you’ve all now see that this was traced directly from Marvel comics and that Miller’s head was just traced on too. Right. Those anti-semitic Marvel comics are the worst. How DO they stay in business!

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