Monday, October 02, 2006

# Posted 10:36 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

YOU'VE GOT TO GET THAT MONKEY MACACA OFF YOUR BACK: It may have been excessive for the Post to mention the macaca incident 44 times in the month after it happened. In fact, the Post's ombudsman felt compelled to defend the paper from that charge.

But what can you say when the Weekly Standard devotes its cover to a portrait of Sen. Allen with a macaca literally on his back? Illustrations aside, the cover story by Matt Continetti is well worth reading. Continetti presents Sen. Allen as a very sympathetic figure with a fatal flaw in his political instincts.

When it comes to that flaw, Continetti is ruthless:
The video [of the macaca incident] lends itself to television, where a viewer can't help finding it strangely compelling: the absurdity of a professional politician mocking a twenty-year-old campaign volunteer; the goofy, triumphant grin on Allen's face as he welcomes "macaca" to America; the casual, unknowing ease with which Allen moves from committing a potentially career-ending gaffe to a canned discourse on fighting terrorists
One of Continetti's sharpest points is that the greatest harm done by the macaca incident (and the "pork chop" encore) were to Allen's reputation for authenticity:
In the past, one of Allen's strengths was his forthrightness and consistency. "He's just authentic," Mary Matalin told me earlier this year. "We're in the era of authenticity. He's serious, but he's comfortable. He doesn't get rattled. He doesn't tap dance." Matalin might have been right at the time, but not anymore.
Accustomed to thinking of Allen as a fake southerner, most journalists have failed to recognize that Allen had a reputation for authenticity that could be damaged.

Of course, there is a very good chance that Allen will win his Senate race. But I think the Standard's cover story provides a fitting book end to Allen's career as a GOP golden boy and White House hopeful.
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