Allen Embraces Jewish Ancestry
A day after getting angry when a reporter asked about his mother’s Jewish heritage and his campaign called that a “smear,” Senator George Allen now says he “embraces and takes pride in every aspect of my diverse heritage.”
Allen’s campaign manager said the senator believed the question was hostile because it followed another one about whether Allen had learned the word “macaca” from his mother. The word, which Allen used last month to describe a Webb volunteer, is a French slur for a dark-skinned person. Allen’s mother, Henrietta “Etty” Allen, is a native of Tunisia and speaks French.
In a statement released by his campaign yesterday, Allen said he was proud to have recently discovered that his grandfather, an anti-Nazi resistance fighter in North Africa, was part of a well-known Jewish family. “I was raised as a Christian and my mother was raised as a Christian,” Allen, 54, said. “And I embrace and take great pride in every aspect of my diverse heritage, including my Lumbroso family line’s Jewish heritage, which I learned about from a recent magazine article and my mother confirmed.”
Allen campaign manager Dick Wadhams said, “Saying your mother was a racist. That was exactly the intent and the thrust of the question. Then she [Fox] went on to introduce religion. Introducing religion at all into the debate was inappropriate.”
Allen’s handling of this and the Macaca flap have been inept for someone so experienced in high office; the man has been a state governor and a United States Senator. Still, candidates get tired and say stupid things.
That Wadham has repeatedly flubbed his job of spin control, though, is inexcusable. He’s supposed to be a dispassionate manager who cooly assesses the situation and diffuses it. Instead, he repeatedly rubs salt in the wound. It’s probably too late for firing him to do any good but it couldn’t hurt.