George Allen's ugly "macaca" comments were publicized on August 14, and they're still punishing him both in Virginia and across the country.
The main problem is that Allen is trying to have it both ways. As a Roanoke Times editorial points out, he is making repeated, grovelling apologies for his statements (which Dana Milbank mocks in today's Washington Post), while his campaign manager issued a memo blaming the press for the controversy ("Never in modern times has a statewide officeholder and candidate been so vilified"). These contradictory messages seem to be inciting even more press coverage of the incident.
Meanwhile, national commentators are using the story to write exaggerated trend pieces about "Youtube politics", further damaging Allen's presidential prospects. President Bush did attend a fundraiser for Allen, but the reason his spokesperson provided for his attendance was weak and defensive:
"Senator Allen has made an apology," said Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman. "It is in all of our best interest who work in politics and work to improve the tone and the discourse that when apologies are offered they are accepted."
Moreover, the fallout from the incident continues to tar both Allen and Bush. For instance, a widely distributed online article about Bush's attendance at the fundraiser summarizes the "macaca" comment as a "racist remark." (It is attributed to Internet Broadcasting Systems but based on an Associated Press story.)
In other news, Ryan Lizza, the author of two damning pieces about Allen's past, has published a helpful compilation of the relevant tidbits from a book by Allen's sister about their childhood, which she is now trying to disavow -- here are the highlights:
We all obeyed George. If we didn't, we knew he would kill us. Once, when Bruce refused to go to bed, George hurled him through a sliding glass door. Another time, when Gregory refused to go to bed, George tackled him and broke his collarbone. Another time, when I refused to go to bed, George dragged me up the stairs by my hair. George hoped someday to become a dentist. George said he saw dentistry as a perfect profession--getting paid to make people suffer. Instead, George became a lawyer and went into politics. (pages 21-22)
Ever since my brother George held me over the railing at Niagara Falls, I've had a fear of heights. (page 43)
My brother George welcomed him [Jennifer's new boyfriend Flynn] by slamming a pool cue against his head. (page 178)
Finally, the best anecdote about the incident comes from the Washington Post, which describes the way that S.R. Sidarth, the UVA student who was the target of Allen's comments, got admitted to a political science class on campaigns and elections
Back at school in Charlottesville now, Sidarth has taken his new, unwanted fame with him.
Larry J. Sabato, an oft-quoted political pundit who teaches a small, popular seminar on campaigns and elections, said he asked students to write an essay as part of the admission process. Eighty people applied for the course, including Sidarth. His essay was just three words long -- but it was enough to clinch one of the 20 coveted spots in the class.
"I am Macaca," he wrote.