Living in Bubbles
Sunday, December 03, 2006 :::
Politicians and orchids share many things in common: both require a great deal of patience and skill to grow; both are largely ornamental; and, of course, neither can long survive outside a carefully controlled environment.
Both Jim Webb and George Allen display these orchid-like characteristics in today's RTD.
Here, Senator-elect Webb dismisses the widely accepted notion that Allen's series of gaffes had little to do with his defeat. And his views are straight out of the greenhouse:
It was a vicious campaign. And quite frankly, from the primary on, I stopped reading all analysis and stopped watching all analysis.
I turned on the TV on Election Day to watch CNN; there was John King . . . saying basically this race is about George Allen screwing up. I think that's totally wrong, having done this from the inside.
I mean, this is an individual [Allen] who, 25 years in government, and I think that he had some of the most sophisticated political advisers in the country working for him.
And I think that we presented a campaign that truly gave people alternatives, and to the best of my ability we ran a positive campaign.
"totally wrong." I suggest that if he has an opportunity, Mr. Webb consult the news clippings from the weeks of his self-imposed media blackout. He might learn that his perceptions don't quite square with reality.
And as for the matter of running a positive campaign...personally, he may have done just that. His surrogates, however (including the willing editorial hands at the WaPo), cannot say the same.
As for George Allen, his missive from the loamy, climate-controlled soil is little better. From Tyler Whitley's reporting of Allen's remarks at the GOP "Advance," we get this:
Allen dwelt only briefly on the recent campaign, blaming "political winds" rather than mistakes for his upset loss. Buoyed by the unpopularity of the war in Iraq and Republican scandals, Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
"Political winds." Good Lord.
For a politician -- let alone one of his experience -- to ignore the gravity of his own mistakes and how they undermined his other messaging efforts is dumbfounding.
But that would seem to be the norm for the GOP in recent years.
Meanwhile, Jeff Lashes Jim
In his Sunday Sermon, Jeff Schapiro takes a few choice whacks at Senator-elect Webb's remarks toward the President earlier this week:
Webb's response to news accounts of the dust-up with Dubya was Allen-like. Rather than recognize the damage to his standing and trying to limit it, Webb is retaliating, with slightly paranoiac flourish, by suggesting to The Times-Dispatch's Peter Hardin that the story was leaked by the administration to depict him as a hothead.
But you have got to wonder: Did Webb consider at the time the potential for embarrassment? And once the incident was out, why didn't Webb see it as a chance for a rookie to prove he can play with the pros? Webb was not going to escape unscathed. He could have summoned a smile, said no offense was intended, and apologized for any misunderstanding.
There's some truth to this -- just as there is an excellent case to be made that the President, too, showed a profound lack of manners and understanding.
But the greatest Schapiro dig comes, as it usually does, near the end:
FINALLY, WEBB -- in a single moment -- trivialized himself, providing fodder for many of the same pundits and satirists who giddily feasted on Allen. This will only make it more difficult to take seriously a man who broods over such serious issues as economic dislocation, peace, and security.
I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Webb's ability to recover from this and serve with distinction over the next six years.
But if he doesn't, then the next few years will provide a gold mine of material for those who make a living off of good copy.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 12/03/2006