A Novel Attack

Oct 27, 2006 10:13am

The campaign of Sen. George Allen, R-VA, unloaded a document dump last night — providing a press release to Mr. Drudge and, apparently, some at Fox News Channel — that takes gleanings from the novels of Democratic Senate challenger Jim Webb and attempts to use them to paint a picture of a deviant.

"Webb’s novels disturbingly and consistently – indeed, almost uniformly – portray women as servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted, or some combination of these," the Allen press release reads. "In novel after novel, Webb assigns his female characters base, negative characteristics. In thousands of pages of fiction penned by Webb, there are few if any strong, admirable women or positive female role models."

Some background here: this Virginia race will hinge on turnout, and on Virginia moms. To win over those mommies, Allen’s ads have been slamming Webb for some rather scathing comments against women entering the military that he wrote in the 1970s (much like the allegations that Allen used racial epithets against African-Americans during that era, this campaign has been based in no small part on who these men were rather than who they are.)

In any case, the Allen document dump includes the following excerpts: from "Lost Soldiers" — “A shirtless man walked toward them along a mud pathway. His muscles were young and hard, but his face was devastated with wrinkles. His eyes were so red that they appeared to be burned by fire. A naked boy ran happily toward him from a little plot of dirt. The man grabbed his young son in his arms, turned him upside down, and put the boy’s penis in his mouth.”

From "A Country Such as This" — "[He] could see Jawbone and Ashley Asthmatic [two guards at a Vietnamese prison camp] napping together in the grass. They faced inward, their arms entwined. It looked like they were masturbating each other. It didn’t surprise him. … It was common to see men holding hands, embracing, playing with each other. Some of them [the guards] had wanted him. He could tell in those evanescent moments between his bao cao bow, the obligatory deference when a guard entered his cell, and the first word or blow that followed it… Quick, grinding voices, turgid with repressed passion. An exploratory reaching of the hand near his groin…”

And on and on…you get the point.

Web campaign spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd, Webb campaign tells me: "As you know, it’s fiction. Jim has always, in all of his books, had an element of realism and obviously this kind of thing is embedded in cultural elements that reflect the time and period of these novels."

She adds about one of the books the Allen campaign quotes from, "Lost Soldiers," was blurbed positively by Sen. John McCain, R-AZ. "I guess the Allen campaign thinks John McCain is a big deviant as well," Denny Todd says.

(McCain’s blurb: "James Webb’s new novel paints a portrait of a modern Vietnam charged with  hopes for the future but haunted by the ghosts of its war-torn past. It captures well the lingering scars of the war, and exposes the tension between the dynamism of a new generation and the invisible bondage of an older generation for whom wartime allegiances, and animosities, are rendered no less vivid by the passage of time. A novel of revenge and redemption that tells us much about both where Vietnam is headed and where it has been.")
"The bottom line," says Denny Todd, "is that I think it’s sad and pathetic that the Allen campaign has nothing but senseless attacks. They can’t run on the issues and it’s just sad.. Obviously they’re desperate, they’ll do anything to win, and that includes taking things out of context, lying and distorting facts. And of course they get people like Drudge and Fox News to help them."

What do you think? Fair hit or below-the-belt desperation?

–jt

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