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The Rise and Fall (& Rise Again?) of George Allen

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 3:21 pm - November 9, 2006.
Filed under: 2006 Elections,Ronald Reagan,Virginia Politics

When I was law studentl at George Allen’s alma mater, the University of Virginia School of Law, the Commonwealth’s currently outgoing Senator was beginning his rise to power. He won a special election to Congress in 1991. When the Democrats who then controlled Virginia’s government eliminated his district, he announced his bid for Governor.

Many of my professors, including two right-of-center ones, were skeptical of his candidacy, recalling how mediocre a student he had been. But, during his 1993 gubernatorial campaign, they became impressed with his political skills, with one noting that he had shown qualities reminiscent of Ronald Reagan. He ran a great campaign that year, coming from behind to win a convincing victory. He put together a solid record as Governor, so good that at the conclusion of his term in 1997, GOP candidates swept all three top offices in Virginia.

That year, I met the then-Governor at a rally in Annandale at the close of the campaign to elect his successor. I showed him my cowboy boots which I said I was wearing in his honor. He examined them, asking if they were deerskin (which they were) and asking how they felt. He was quite personable and showed a similar ability to talk to the other Virginians who approached him.

It wasn’t just his campaign style which impressed me, it was also how his strategy. In 1993, social conservative leaders were upset that he didn’t seek their blessing before running. Yet, they refrained from criticizing him because he had appealed directly to social conservative voters.

But, as his aspirations for national office increased in recent years, he seemed increasingly eager to please those social conservative activists whom he had once bypassed. A man who reached out to Log Cabin in 2000, he has becoming increasingly eager to placate the anti-gay forces in the party.

I think that hurt him this year. But, that alone did not account for his defeat. He simply went into this election overconfident and was not easily able to overcome his blunders, as a more deft politician would. Given all his missteps in this campaign, it’s amazing that he came so close to winning. Indeed, he may well have pulled it off had he not brought up the racier passages in Jim Webb’s novel. That appears to have backfired as polls taken immediately after that should a bump in Webb’s poll numbers.

As Allen appears likely to concede, he seems to be accepting his defeat with dignity. With a graceful concession speech, he puts himself in a strong position to run for the seat his senior colleague John Warner is expected to vacate in two years. So, instead of running for President in 2008 as he had hoped, he may well be making a bid to get back into the Senate.

And let us hope that when he does, he recalls that he can attribute his initial success in Virginia politics to more mainstream conservative policies, closer to those of Ronald Reagan than to those of Pat Robertson. George Allen lost this time by fewer than 8,000 votes to a man who “used a video in ads that showed Reagan praising him.

A Republican may have lost in Virginia, but the image of the Gipper still sways voters. And it’s to that legacy which George Allen must turn if he wishes to rise again in that state’s politics.

UPDATE: In an excellent piece on concession speeches, Peggy noted Allen’s grace in concession: “Sen. George Allen, gentleman of Virginia, said, ‘We are placed here on earth to do something well.’ He vowed to do all he could to help Jim Webb come in and serve in the U.S. Capitol.



  1. “If indeed, George Allen talked about the Civil War without mentioning slavery, he would not be the first person to do so.”

    Again, context, context, context. I was not referencing a generalized discussion of the Civil War, but an official state action of Allen while governor proclaiming a month to be Confederate History month for the state of Virginia. In that proclamation he refers to the Civil War as a struggle for independence and “sovereign rights”, without a word on slavery–in a state with a significant African American population. Your claim that state rights means something different since the 1950’s is disingenous especially here, where Allen is referencing the 1860’s. Or are you claiming that state rights had no racial overtones in the 1860’s either? To claim as you try to do that all of this is only a critique of the so called explosion of federal power since the 1960’s and devoid of racial content is at best wishful thinking and revisionist history. Also remember that the explosion of federal power was brought about by the demands of African Americans that their basic civil rights as American citizens be protected.

    All of this by a man who hanged a noose is office, opposed civil rights legislation, has a close relationship with groups even you characterize as “extreme rightist”, opposed the creation of a holiday in favor of MLK, etc. etc. and yet unless he is caught on video using the N word, you blithely deny any evidence suggesting racial animus or insensitivity.

    Comment by Brendan Flynn — November 11, 2006 @ 7:25 am - November 11, 2006

  2. No one has any clue what Allen meant by macaca.

    I certainly don’t know what he meant by it, but it’s definitely a bit creepy for someone to point to someone — regardless of the circumstances — and say “Let’s give a welcome to Macaca here.” I mean, what? It may not be racist or mean-spirited, but it sure is weird, random behavior.

    Comment by kdogg36 — November 11, 2006 @ 12:56 pm - November 11, 2006

  3. “Maybe I do go on a bit about people not responding to my points because, in many cases, our critics don’t bother to address our points, just the ones they wish we had made.”

    In all honesty, I think you have the phemomena reversed. I have seen many people offer reasonable criticisms of your posts and your tactical maneuver is always to misrepresent what the person is saying and then respond to a twisted version of the commentor’s position. If that does not work, or perhaps when you can’t even be bothered to respond, the alternative is for you accuse the person of lacking basic literacy skills as if anyone who disagrees with you must be by definition be illiterate. And yes, that does remind me of juvenile styles of argument that is reminiscent of too many over achieving and ambitous law students who think bluster and arrogance can replace careful thinking.

    Comment by Brendan Flynn — November 11, 2006 @ 1:36 pm - November 11, 2006

  4. Brendan in #51, the explosion of federal power occurred in the 1960s as well as the 1970s and was not limited to protecting the civil rights of African-Americans. Check your history.

    As to your comment in #53, many people do offer reasonable criticism of my posts — and in most cases, I have acknowledged their valid points either in the thread itself or in private e-mails to those writers.

    You then go on to say things which have no basis in reality. I have never accused my critics of being illiterate.

    Please address my points, criticize what I have to say, but please do not put words into my mouth.

    As to my George Allen, my basic point is that he made a number of mistakes, showed some pretty serious errors of judgment, but I don’t think there’s evidence of his racist tendencies.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — November 12, 2006 @ 12:40 pm - November 12, 2006

  5. Dan, how after the “Democrat mandate of 2006” is it that you won’t get onboard and appreciate that Allen and all other GOPers are racists, anti-gay, and worship at the Christianist (sic) altar? No evidence exists of racist tendencies???

    The election proved it. What’s next? Are you going to start claiming that Kerry didn’t win in 2004?

    Geo Allen allowed –no, permitted.. no, sanctioned… no, condoned… no, instigated –the “raising” of a Confederate war flag in his dorm room at UV which he shared with 3 other roomies. Skip the fact that two of his roomies claimed they put up the flag to cover a hole left from tossing medicine balls at the wall. If he didn’t do that 35+ years ago, why is it so hard to find 10,000 witnesses to affirm his side of the story? That’s the threshhold for truth here. And remember, there would have been no controversy if they players had put up a poster of Liv Lindeland, the legendary playmate.

    Allen also repeatedly referred to black basketball players at UV as niggers while at college. Come on, we know that… we got it from the GayLeftBorg’s outgoing message #345023-J. Were you not listening again?

    And, worse of all for our gay community members circling the GayLeftBorg and knocking on the black walls for entrance, Allen referred to UV male cheerleaders as “fags”. What is with THAT? Have you ever seen a UV cheerleader? Ugh. Seriously now, get with the program, Dan. These are the facts that the mandate proved: all GOPers are racist pigs who usually like women (which makes them doubly bad to the GayLeftBorg and serious competition for the drag queens living inside the cube)… and if they don’t like women, they predate on str8 boys.

    And let’s recall that Allen is gay –at least he and everyone who sings the UVa “Good Old Song” admit they come from a place where “all” is “gay”.

    You have got to get with the program, Dan. The Borg is going to leave without you and stamp you “Assimilation Denied”.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — November 12, 2006 @ 1:30 pm - November 12, 2006

  6. “Brendan in #51, the explosion of federal power occurred in the 1960s as well as the 1970s and was not limited to protecting the civil rights of African-Americans”.

    Yes, so what? This does not in the least address the substance of my comment-but before you correct me I will say I should have been more precise and said brought about in part by demands of African Americans. Still that is hardly responsive to may major point — the one asked me to respond to and that is whether Allen has displayed any evidence of racial animus. I list a number of documented things Allen has said and done (in contrast to the fantasy straw arguments and rather pathetic attempt at irony put forth in comment #56) and I pointed that his tribute to “sovereign rights” was not, as you would like to claim boilerplate rhetoric of post Reagan conservatives, but made in the context of proclaiming a month Confederate history month. You still have not explained how that context does not give the remark racial overtones to put it mildly. If you really are claiming that you believe that Allen hanging a noose in his office and then saying it has nothing to do with lynching, you are no position to tell me to check my history. Quite frankly, I really do find it hard to believe that anyone of good faith and a minimum concern about the history of African Americans in this country can’t be disturbed by George Allen’s words and action.

    As for your comment that you have never accused someone of being illiterate, you are taking my comment well too literally. You consistently accuse your critics of not reading what you said and not addressing your points(as you have said done to me on this post) and the implication of that is that they are not comprehending what you said as if it is a reading problem and not a substantive disagreement. I was not putting words in your mouth as I was not claiming a direct quote and I think what I said was a fair inference from your posts, but perhaps overstated and for that my apology.

    Comment by Brendan Flynn — November 12, 2006 @ 2:35 pm - November 12, 2006

  7. “Obviously, you’re more interested in labeling (and otherwise misrepresenting) conservatives than engaging us.

    Let me repeat, George Allen has many faults, most of which were made manifest in this campaign, racism is not one of them.

    It says so much about you guys in how quick you are to label Republicans racist.”

    George Allen labeled a young American “Macaca”. If you can say that Kerry’s botched joke fits into a pattern that goes back several decades, it is quite fair to say that George Allen’s pattern is legitimate grounds for regarding him as a racist.

    How this became “Republicans are racist” is in your head.

    Comment by sean — November 12, 2006 @ 11:44 pm - November 12, 2006

  8. See, sean-of-the-lower-case-clan, if someone does something once, you can’t call it a pattern –unless you’re willing to make up more examples out of the ether… as you and your pals have done with Allen.

    Kerry, on the other hand, has repeatedly and over a long period of time, expressed his distain for the military and service personnel. He shamefully misrepresented his service record during various Senate campaigns and in 2004… and got called out for it by the Swift Boat Veterans who DID honorably serve their country, their men, their mission.

    You fail to understand the difference between a pattern well established –as with Kerry– and pattern of fiction like the anti-Allen folks used this year.

    Two very very very different aspects.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — November 13, 2006 @ 9:51 am - November 13, 2006

  9. “See, sean-of-the-lower-case-clan, if someone does something once, you can’t call it a pattern –unless you’re willing to make up more examples out of the ether… as you and your pals have done with Allen.”

    This is utter nonsense. What examples have been made up? You simply that is the case but no provide no evidence whatsover for your assertion. In comment 51, I mentioned a number of uncontested facts about George Allen, independent of whether he used the N word, he has a very disturbing record on issues of race. But I suppose this is what one expects from someone who considers the Swift Veterans a reliable source. By the way as for Kerry’s disdain for service personell, he has repeatedly sought better funding for medical and other services for former veterans, an area of the budget the president & Dick “I had other priorities” Cheney have been quite willing to cut.

    Comment by Brendan Flynn — November 13, 2006 @ 10:07 am - November 13, 2006

  10. Brendan, did Kerry vote for those approps before he voted against them?

    The truth is that Kerry has NOT done a moments worth of heavy lifting for our troops –or veterans. He jumped on board the effort to target added approps to the 2003 bill –which was already underway– when he was approached by Boston area vets looking to save special programs in eastern Massachusetts hospitals. Such a leader… but he did try to take credit for it. Such a politician.

    Contend away, Brendan. You can’t make up a reality for Kerry being pro-solider or pro-veteran; he never was, never will be. He slipped up and spoke his true sentiments when he demeaned the troops as being stupid or that military service is the last resort for anyone. Shame on him and you, for defending that kind of conduct.

    And the racism nonsense about Allen included the allegations of “several” unnamed UVa grads who say they heard him use nigger when he was a football player… and the Confederate flag/Allen dorm room picture was all over DailyKos, MyDD, and other Democrat Party sites… do your own homework, Brendan. It’s not my job you failed basic research.

    And for the point where you’d like to intrude… I was speaking to sean-of-the-lower-case-clan… I hadn’t even read your comment.

    But, from the looks of it now, I think you were having a pissing match with Dan… I’m not into water sports. Thanks.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — November 14, 2006 @ 10:13 am - November 14, 2006

  11. […] his old boss’s party, never distanced himself form the man himself and, as I noted in a prior post, used that great man’s image in campaign ads. The use of Ronald Reagan certainly helped him […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » 2006 Elections — Ronald Reagan’s Vindication — November 25, 2008 @ 4:40 am - November 25, 2008

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