So one can well imagine George Allen's surprise when his “macaca” line was not cited as evidence that he “doesn't take himself too seriously” but rather as proof that we were dealing with an incipient Adolf Hitler. In a somber, deadly serious editorial, the Times described “macaca” as a “discouraging word,” and accused Allen of playing “the race card.” Compared with the Washington Post, the Times was the soul of reason: The Post mentioned “macaca” 109 times in the two months before the 2006 election.
In a career of talking, anyone will make mistakes and this was Allen's. Not the “macaca” line, which was amusing enough. His mistake was to grovel to phony race-baiters pretending to be offended. When did rich college kids harassing rural voters become a new protected category that must be shielded from words that are insults in other languages? How did Sidarth become a specially anointed victim? What did we ever do to India?
In short order, Allen was issuing “repeated apologies,” explaining over and over again that if he had “had any idea that in some parts of the world or some cultures that this would be an insult, I would never have used that word because that's not who I am.” He went on, “It's not how I was raised. It's not what I believe in.”60 If Allen had treated the media's self-righteous-athon with the derision it deserved, we'D have one more Republican in the Senate and one fewer illegal gun. (In March 2007, Senator Webb's executive assistant was arrested for trying to walk into a Senate office building carrying a loaded gun and ammunition, which he said belonged to Webb, a staunch advocate of gun control.61 Charges were later dropped when it was proved that the aide had never used the word “macaca.”)
The people who were the real victims of the “macaca” incident were the legions of young white males who aspire to be Democratic Nazi block-watchers themselves someday. What would the media have done without Sidarth's beige skin, certifying his victim status? No reliving the Jim Crow era if Sidarth had been a privileged white male instead of a privileged Indian American male. I guess it's lucky for the Democrats: They'D have a hard time finding a white man in their party these days, anyway—going from winning a majority of white men with John F. Kennedy, to only about a third of white men in the past twenty years.62 As long as their political snitches remain upper-middle-class “people of color,” the Democrats have ready-made fake victims as they actually victimize ordinary Americans.
James Webb was Allen's Democratic opponent in that race. One didn't have to search for words in foreign languages to get the point of Webb's ethnically insensitive remarks about his primary opponent, Harris Miller. One flyer produced by Webb's campaign called Harris, who is Jewish, the “anti-Christ of outsourcing” and “killer”—the latter cleverly disguised in one use as “ job-killer.” Resembling something out of Al Jazeera comics, the cartoon on the flyer depicted Miller in grotesque caricature as a hook-nosed Jew with money bulging out of his pockets.
In the cartoon's first panel, a bespectacled, hook-nosed Miller is saying, “Let them eat cake.” In the second panel, the again hooknosed Miller is standing in front of a framed dollar sign, saying, “Costs are down and profits are up! U.S. workers will just have to get used to lower wages.” In the third panel, with only the money in his pocket showing, Miller says, “Now, get those jobs overseas now! Blame it on technology while I count my money!” The fourth panel shows a muscular, Aryan-looking Jim Webb, saying, “Shut your mouth, Killer! I'm gonna fight to keep those jobs here and to bring the others home! The last thing we need in DC is another lobbyist!”63 The flyer promised, “There is a solution.”
Not only was the Webb campaign flyer more obviously offensive than Allen's one-time use of the nonsense word “macaca,” it wasn't an extemporaneous remark made about one specific jerk at a campaign rally. This was a printed flyer, approved by Webb and distributed by the official “Webb for Senate” campaign. The Washington Post ’s entire coverage of this blindingly anti-Semitic flyer consisted of three very brief mentions of the flyer near the bottom of articles on other topics. The fullest, most graphic discussion of the anti-Semitic flyer appeared in a Post article modestly titled “Webb, Miller Spar on Spending”:
Post columnist Marc Fisher, [a panelist at a Webb/Allen debate], grilled Webb on a flyer from his campaign that some have criticized as anti-Semitic. The ad shows Miller as a cartoonish figure with a hook nose. Miller called it “despicable.”
Webb said he did not think the ad was anti-Semitic but added that “if anyone views in any way that ad as being anti-Semitic, they certainly have my apologies, because that was certainly not my intent.”64
Each of the three brief mentions of the flier in the Post included a conclusory announcement from the Webb campaign that the flyer was not anti-Semitic. And that was the end of it. The Post published more than a hundred articles citing Allen's offhand use of a word no native English speaker would recognize as a slur, but barely mentioned an unmistakably anti-Semitic flyer distributed by a man who is now a United States senator. Amazingly, there was so little press about Webb's anti-Semitic flyer that in June 2008 he felt free to complain to the New York Times about the “Karl Rove” techniques that had been used against him during the 2006 Senate campaign. Claiming his Senate campaign was “one of the most brutal things I've ever been through,” Webb said, “It's more than the name-calling. It's the whole attempt to destroy your personal credibility. That's the Karl Rove approach. Until you've been through that, you don't really know what it's like.”65
Anti-Semite James Webb: victim of imaginary forces.
After Webb won his primary against the apparently money-loving “anti-Christ of outsourcing,” a left-wing Jewish magazine helped Webb continue with his anti-Semitic attacks during the general election campaign by outing George Allen as part Jewish. The Forward looked into Allen's ancestry and excitedly revealed that his mother's maiden name was the same as that of a prominent Jewish family that settled in Italy in the fifteenth century. Allen asked his mother about the article and found out, for the first time, that his maternal grandfather, Felix Lum-broso, was Jewish. It was a fortuitous discovery, allowing Webb's campaign front office—the media—to Jew-bait Webb's second opponent in the Senate race.
At a September 18, 2006, Allen-Webb debate, WUSA-TV's Peggy Fox popped Allen with the Jewish ancestry question completely out of the blue. Fox said, “It has been reported that your grandfather Felix, whom you were given your middle name for, was Jewish. Could you please tell us whether your forebears include Jews and, if so, at which point Jewish identity might have ended?”
Stunned by the question, and with his supporters in the audience booing the vulgar inquiry, Allen said, “To be getting into what religion my mother is, I don't think is relevant. Why is that relevant—my religion, Jim's religion or the religious beliefs of anyone out there?”66
The same Washington Post that had shown not the slightest interest in Webb's anti-Semitic flyers suddenly felt the cruel lash of anti-Semitism! Not in the question about Allen's Jewish grandfather, of course, but in Allen's response. The Post ’s Dana Milbank speculated that Allen's anger at the question may have reflected his concern “that Jewish roots wouldn't play well in parts of Virginia.”67 What did Webb's flyers indicate about how he thought Jewishness would play in parts of Virginia?
Soon other Democrats were merrily baiting Allen both for using the recently banned word “macaca” (newly ethnically offensive) and for being Jewish (newly permitted as a line of attack). A staffer for Democratic congressional candidate Al Weed of Virginia was forced to resign after sending a mass e-mail encouraging liberals to protest a Republican rally for “George ‘Macacawitz’ Allen.”68
Admittedly, I am in no position to judge, not finding the word “macaca” offensive in the first place. But if you think “macaca” is a “racial slur”—the equivalent of the N-word—then isn't “Macacawitz” twice as offensive? According to my Liberal-to-English dictionary, a Democrat had called Allen, “George Niggerwitz Allen.”
Far from being outraged,
Allen didn't end his campaign by using an offensive word. Manifestly, “macaca” isn't offensive and no one seriously believed it was— least of all liberals who instantly began calling Allen “Macacawitz.” Allen ended his campaign by capitulating to media bullies and apologizing for a completely media-generated scandal. Allen's apology tour lasted so long, he ended up apologizing for Senator Biden's claiming you had to be Indian to work at a 7-Eleven and Hillary Clinton's saying Mahatma Gandhi “ran a gas station down in St. Louis.”
Democrats apologize for nothing, even when an apology is deserved. Senator Webb didn't apologize for his anti-Semitic flyer—except in the enraging nonapology/apology of the politician: “If anyone views in any way that ad as being anti-Semitic,” then I apologize. So for anyone who misinterpreted a flyer with a hook-nosed caricature of a Jewish candidate that repeatedly called him the “anti-Christ of outsourcing” and “killer”—to those crazy people, Webb apologized. I'D like to meet the person who wouldn't find Webb's flyer anti-Semitic.
Webb never apologized for his shockingly rude behavior to President Bush at a White House reception for new members of Congress. First, Webb refused to go through the receiving line to shake Bush's hand. Then, when Bush later approached him and asked, “How's your boy?” referring to Webb's son in Iraq, who had been the centerpiece of Webb's Senate campaign, Webb said, “I'D like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President.” Bush said, “I didn't ask you that, I asked how's your boy?” Webb snottily replied, “That's between me and my boy.” Is that an honorable way to treat the president of the civilization he defended?
On the Times op-ed page, they nearly fainted in admiration of Webb's churlish behavior. Paul Krugman wrote, “Good for him. We need people in Washington who are willing to stand up to the bully in chief.”70 Frank Rich said, “You can understand why Jim Webb, the Virginia senator-elect with a son in Iraq, was tempted to slug the president at a White House reception.”71 Democrats treat antiwar military veterans as if they're just another special-interest victim group, like welfare recipients or public school teachers. Any liberal who has worn the uniform has carte blanche to be a boor and a cad. Webb was a victim—he fought, Bush didn't. Meanwhile, two positions Webb did retract were positions he shouldn't have apologized for: his opposition to women in combat in a 1979 Washingtonian article titled “Women Can't Fight” and his reference to the Tailhook investigation as a “witch hunt.”
The media were aquiver with indignation when someone attending a John McCain rally in the 2008 campaign called Obama an “Arab.” The dark underbelly of the GOP had at last been exposed! (I thought they liked Arabs.) Even assuming the random person attending the McCain rally was not a liberal plant, how about we compare that with what elected Democrats and other Democratic officials—even Obama himself—had said about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin?
On the House floor Democratic representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee compared Palin to Pontius Pilate—and Obama to Jesus: “Barack Obama was a community organizer like Jesus, who our minister prayed about. Pontius Pilate was a governor.”72 Cohen might want to stay away from the New Testament: There are no parables about Jesus lobbying the Romans for less restrictive workfare rules or filing for grants under the Community Redevelopment Act. Sorry—I'll have to get back to you on that soul-saving business after I get Fannie Mae to ease off those lending standards.
The head of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Carol Fowler, said Palin's “primary qualification seems to be that she hasn't had an abortion.”73 By contrast, Democrats believe that having had an abortion is the primary qualification for higher office.
The very week that liberals were launching these venomous attacks on Palin, an article in Slate magazine—owned by the Washington Post—ran an article bitterly complaining that Democrats weren't fighting hard enough. “Team Obama needs to break out the knives and start rolling in the mud, too,” Terence Samuel wrote. “Once again,” he complained, “we have Democratic dignity on display. They are taking the high road, constantly acknowledging John McCain's honorable service to the nation and saying that Sarah Palin is a tough and talented politician.”74 Short of an actual assassination, it's hard to imagine how Obama and his media helpers could have fought any dirtier.
Obama himself compared Palin to a pig and then denied doing so. Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention was the most famous political speech in at least two decades. This was Palin's first introduction to the nation, delivered less than a week after most people had first heard her name.
And the most famous line in the most famous speech was a joke that ended with the word “lipstick”: “What's the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom?” Palin asked. Pointing to her own lips, she answered, “Lipstick.”
Within days of Palin's convention speech, Obama criticized the McCain-Palin ticket saying you can put “lipstick on pig, but it's still a pig.” His audience clearly grasped a reference to Palin, hooting in appreciation, but Obama pleaded innocence, explaining on the David Letter-man Show that “it's a common expression in at least Illinois.”75 Yeah, we're familiar with the expression. That's why it's called “an expression.” Here are some more expressions: “Monkey see, monkey do,” and “I'm just calling a spade a spade.” You think anyone would have noticed if McCain had used those about Obama? He'D have to drop out of the race, resign from the Senate, and leave the country.
But in a familiar pattern, Obama's insulting Palin became the Republicans’ scandal. How dare Republicans suggest that the cherub Obama was referring to Palin! Why, it never crossed his mind! Obama accused Republicans of “Swift-boat politics” and the media indignantly defended Obama's honor.
It was not the expression, but the context. There's also nothing wrong with mentioning “Dallas,” but shortly before the movie Dr. Strangelove was released, JFK was assassinated in Dallas and the word “Dallas” was changed to “Vegas” in Slim Pickens's commentary on the military survival kit: “A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff.” If only the producers had thought to explain, in exasperation, “ ‘Dallas’ is a common name for a city in Texas, at least in Illinois,”76 they wouldn't have had to change a thing.
Liberals angrily demanded that no one draw any conclusions from the fact that Obama's audience laughed and hollered when he mentioned “lipstick on a pig,” which I guess was just the idiosyncratic reaction of one particular crowd. But I seem to recall a headline or two regarding Sarah Palin and lipstick in the days before Obama made his lipstick-on-a-pig remark.
“Sarah Steps Out: Republican Candidate a Pit Bull with Lipstick” —Salt Lake Tribune, September 3, 2008
“Pitbull in Lipstick: Palin Rips Obama” —Daily News (New York), September 4, 2008
“Putting Lipstick on a Pit Bull” —Hotline, September 4, 2008
“She's a ‘Pit Bull with Lipstick’ ”—Palin Wows 'em by Pounding DC Snobs” —New York Post, September 4, 2008 “The ‘Pit Bull in Lipstick’ Savages the Opposition” —Belfast
Telegraph, September 4, 2008 “A Pit Bull with Lipstick” —Salon, September 4, 2008 “At Stake in ’08; It's About the Lipstick, Stupid” —News &
Record (Greensboro, NC), September 5, 2008 “Mrs. Smith (In Lipstick) Goes to Washington” —Record (Bergen
County, NJ), September 5, 2008 “Hunting Season: ‘Feisty’ Palin Takes Aim at Obama: Pitbull
with Lipstick” —Advertiser (Australia), September 5, 2008 “The ‘Pitbull in Lipstick’ Bites Back” —Belfast Telegraph,
—Birmingham Post, September 5, 2008 “ ‘Lipstick’ Pit Bull Bares Her Teeth” —Courier Mail
(Australia), September 5, 2008 “Happy Families? Or Did the Lipstick Pitbull Cheat?”
—Daily Mail (London), September 5, 2008 “What's the Difference Between a Hockey Mom and a Pitbull?
Lipstick! McCain Running Mate's Rallying Cry”
—Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), September 5, 2008 “Sarah Palin: A Pit Bull with Lipstick” —Fresno Bee
(California), September 5, 2008 “Enter the Pit Bull with Lipstick” —Media General Washington
Bureau, September 5, 2008 “Sarah Barracuda: Pitbull in Lipstick” —Democratic Daily,
September 6, 2008 “The Difference Between Palin and Bush? Lipstick”
—Moderate Voice, September 6, 2008 “Pitbull in Lipstick: Palin Rips Obama” —Daily News (New
York), September 4, 2008
“Putting Lipstick on a Pit Bull” —Hotline, September 4, 2008
“Gloss May Wear Off Republicans’ ‘Lipstick-on-a-Pitbull’ Moment” —Times (London), September 6, 2008
So there did seem to be some vague connection between Sarah Palin and lipstick in the public consciousness when Obama made his remarks on September 9. When Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz sneered: “Does anyone seriously believe that Barack Obama was calling Sarah Palin a pig?”—perhaps he should have addressed that question to his fellow journalists writing endless headlines about Palin and lipstick.
Using the “lipstick on a pig” line just days after Palin's “lipstick” joke would be like using the hoary expression “that dog don't hunt,” about Vice President Dick Cheney days after he shot his friend in a hunting accident or coyly accusing John Edwards of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” after the National Enquirer broke the “love child” story. What? What'D I say? Or, to use an actual example from the Democratic primaries: In 2008, Jesse Jackson did win the South Carolina primary in 1988, but when Bill Clinton appeared to minimize Obama's primary win by saying Jackson won South Carolina too, no one bought Clinton's explanation that he was just “talking about South Carolina political history.”77