In today’s Metro section the Washington Post’s has an article asking if voters will be turned off by George Allen’s attraction to all things western, saying that “Detractors Call Cowboy Image a Shtick”.
Of course, the only detractor that is mentioned in the article is Webb campaign manager Steve Jarding. Apparently the author could find no actual voters who would slam Allen over his attire, so he used Webb campaign staff instead.
The bilious aspect of this article is that post staffer Michael Shear’s writes as if Allen’s western regalia was a campaign makeover like the “earth tones” transition Al Gore underwent in 2000. Like it or not, George Allen has worn cowboy boots and dipped snuff for years, and took to it when he was very young. You may not like it, but it is a personal style choice and no more.
To suggest that this is shtick adopted for political purposes is silly. However, it does reveal yet again the WaPo antipathy to George Allen.
This article could just as well have described Allen’s style choices as bold decisions that marked him as a man who knows his mind and does not kowtow to what others do. That description or something like it has been assigned to every politician in my lifetime who wears a bow tie from former Senator Paul Simon (D-IL) to former Representative Tom Bliley (R-VA).
This article could have noted that although Allen was wearing cowboy boots, a bolo tie, and riding a horse in parades in 1993 when he was elected governor and in 2000 when he was elected to the Senate, demographics have changed, etc., and how will he fare with a changed electorate?
Last time I checked, when congressman vote they are recorded as voting for a bill, against a bill, or no voting. The Congressional Record does not note what they were wearing that day…and I don’t think voters care. Voters care about issues, and to date all we know about Jim Webb is that he served courageously in Vietnam, he quit on Ronald Reagan, he used questionable language years ago, that he disagrees with George Allen on Iraq…although he won’t give specifics on what to do get out. I think it fair for the WaPo to examine Webb’s positions in more depth than they have to date. George Allen has used questionable language, but beyond that has a record in government that could be examined, up to and including legislation he offered, and a discussion of what his positions are on what to do in Iraq beyond “stay the course”?
The column inches for this piece could have been used to examine issues or matters of importance to the voters of Virginia. But that would have required that WaPo to offer a substantive piece on the election, and maybe even a substantive one that might favor Allen.
But as we know from the macaca barrage and the WaPo ombudsman letter that while the WaPo reluctantly agrees it went overboard during that episode, the WaPo is not going to do anything that might even remotely help George Allen.