Washington Post Gunning for George Allen
The Washington Post continues its long series of articles slamming Virginia Republican George Allen. The front page of today’s Metro section (B1) continue a hit piece by White House correspondent Mike Allen (presumably, no relation) who began his reporting career covering his namesake’s 1993 campaign for governor. Entitled, “A Tale of Two Pols,” it draws the parallel both Allen and his supporters have cultivated:
Indeed, the uncanny echoes of George W. Bush’s career have fueled the hopes of Allen backers that he would be Bush’s presidential heir. But as Bush’s popularity has slumped, Allen’s 2008 outlook has dimmed. Worse, last week’s bizarre Allen insult of a rival’s young campaign aide has revived old questions about his sensitivity, temper and smarts. Some high-level Republicans warn that if he’s not careful, he may wind up branded as Bush without the brains.
That’s a good line, although his Slate counterpart John Dickerson already ran with this theme last Tuesday. Dickerson implies and Allen outright suggests that the good senator’s image as good ol’ country boy is a bit contrived. Even though I like him and think the “macaca” incident has been way overblown, I tend to agree, as I noted in a recent TCS piece.
Still, that’s hardly a crime. Politicians have since time immemorial tried to portray themselves as one with the people. Most Americans seem to want to be governed by a guy they’d like to have a beer with. People, especially those from rural areas, have an innate distrust–if not contempt–for those who come across as too “slick.” Most politicians therefore do their best to present themselves as just plain folk, going out in rolled up shirtsleeves, making sure their suits aren’t too stylish, peppering their speeches with some down home talk, and otherwise masking the upper crust background from which most of them arose.
Republicans, especially from the South, have probably done this more than Democrats in recent years. That’s not surprising, since their “base” is the rural voter. Further, the Democrats have a natural advantage because of their post-New Deal image as “the party of the working man.” Still, Democrats play the game too, albeit not always successfully. Recall Al Gore, who was reared in a posh D.C. home, pretending he grew up pickin’ tobbacy on a little farm down in Tennessee. Or John Kerry doing photo ops in hunting gear that virtually still had the Neiman Marcus price tags dangling from them.
For whatever reason, though, WaPo has gone after Allen relentlessly this week, giving prominent placement to editorials disguised as news reporting. Facts not in evidence as passed off as gospel, as in “bizarre Allen insult of a rival’s young campaign aide.” Watching the video, it’s rather clear he was joking around with a kid sent by his opponent to film him. “Macaca, or whatever his name is,” is bizarre, to be sure, but whether it was an “insult” is very much open to interpretation. Still, there have been over two dozen stories in the Post dissecting the incident–including four in today’s edition! In addition to the B1 piece this morning, we have:
One gathers the Post is more offended by the insinuation that inside-the-Beltway elites aren’t part of “real America” than about the “racist overtones” of the Macaca incident. Perhaps Allen’s remarks hit a wee bit close to home?
UPDATE: PostWatch, while agreeing with my general point, thinks I’m guilding the lily by including stories that didn’t appear in the print edition.
Fair enough. Indeed, I put the (online chat) and (blog entry) and (AP wire story) indicators on there for precisely that reason–they’re not quite the equivalent of a front page story in the print edition. Still, it’s not inconceivable that an AP story is on the front page of the website–that’s pretty typical, actually–or at least the front of the Politics or Metro sections. There’s not really any way to document that ex post, though.
If one takes a look at the site (as-I’m-writing view screencapped and thumbnailed at right) one sees several online chats, blog posts, and AP wire feeds prominently linked. Indeed, two blog chats are featured at the very top of the content portion of the page, above even the links to the A1 above the fold stories. These things are probably more likely to be read than a story of page D3 of the print edition.