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A New Gig For 'Macaca': Richardson Staffer


S. R. Sidarth in the Webb senate campaign offices in August of 2006.(AP).

Remember Macaca?

The young man whose handheld video brought down former Virginia Sen. George Allen, has resurfaced in the presidential contest that Allen once hoped to be part of himself.

S.R. Sidarth, the Fairfax student of Indian descent, is now a paid staffer in the communications office of Democratic Presidential hopeful Bill Richardson. He works in Richardson's Santa Fe office compiling daily newspaper articles for the governor, drafting press releases and performing other communication tasks.

Alas, he is not reprising his role as a volunteer "tracker" for the Jim Webb campaign, when he shadowed Allen with a video camera, hoping to catch the Republican in an unguarded moment. It was Allen's dismissive comment about Sidarth --"Say hello to Macaca or whatever his name is"--that helped to doom Allen's reelection bid in 2006.

Sidarth's video was one of the first political video's to "go viral" on the web, forcing Allen to repeatedly apologize and opening the door to other stories questioning his commitment to diversity. Allen lost by a tiny margin to Webb, but the political damage also destroyed a promising shot at the presidency this year.

Sidarth did not reply to a request for an interview sent to his Richardson campaign e-mail.

But Sidarth's presence on the Richardson campaign may be no coincidence.

The New Mexico governor also employs the ad agency Murphy Putnam, whose employee, Philip de Vellis, was the one responsible for the now-famous anti-Hillary Clinton video that spoofed Apple Computer's "1984" ad. The spoof, which was eventually connected to de Vellis, flew across the Internet like wildfire.

Between the two, Richardson has two of the most successful guerrilla warriors when it comes to using video on the Internet. So far, however, neither has found a magic bullet for Richardson, who is still lagging in the polls.

So what does Allen think of the news that Sidarth is involved in the 2008 campaign while he watches from the sideline? Allen traveled from Washington to Tampa this week where he was providing "spin" on behalf of presidential hopeful and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.

Told of Sidarth's job, Allen smiled, looked genuinely surprised and said, "Hey."

Then he kept his mouth shut.

--Michael D. Shear

By Washington Post editors  |  November 29, 2007; 5:43 PM ET
 
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