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Excuse Me, Sen. Allen, Before You Can Run for President, You Have to Deal with This Pesky Little Thing--An Election

It's so much fun to dream about an all-Virginia presidential race in '08--toothy Mark Warner slaying Hillary in the primaries and going on to meet the avuncular, Reaganesque George Allen in the New Dominion Sweepstakes.

And the two gents are having a whale of a time in New Hampshire and Iowa, where Warner is trying out his appeal as the centrist who can break beyond the coastal, secular Democratic base and Allen is exploring ways to assure the conservative base of his fealty while also moderating his message for the larger national electorate. According to a New York Times piece on Sunday, Allen is having a bit of trouble keeping his national message from contradicting his Virginia line.

"I made more decisions in half a day as governor than you can make in a whole week in the Senate," Allen told an audience in Iowa the other day. Being in the Senate, he added, is, well, "It's too slow for me." Yesterday in Richmond, he compounded the rhetorical anguish with this spiffy remark about the Senate: "It moves at the pace of a wounded sea slug."

That may be the honest truth, but if he's to have any presidential hopes, Allen must first win reelection this year.
(Wily Democrats suggested yesterday that if Allen is so bored, maybe he should consider applying to succeed Paul Tagliabue as commissioner of the NFL.)

Reelection to the Senate was expected to be a walk in the park and may still end up being a relatively simple task, but it at least now has a chance to be more interesting than that. The bracingly low poll numbers for the Bush administration, the (are we allowed to use the word quagmire yet?) situation in Iraq, and the growing popular realization that all this homeland security stuff is no panacea for the economy are all getting lots of Republicans to fret more than they had expected to in '06.

In Virginia, there's an actual race for the Democratic nomination to go up against Allen, and with the primary coming up real soon--it's Harris Miller (who sells himself as Son of Mark Warner, Mr. High Tech Himself, yet hasn't yet figured out how to get his campaign site on the first page of Google results for his own name) vs. James Webb (ditto on the Google bit.)

The Democratic primary is June 13, and inevitably, there will be a debate or two. But the Virginia bloggers who played such an important role in last year's gubernatorial race have been having some trouble getting the Democratic challengers to agree to a blogger-run debate.

Naturally, given the rock 'n' roll 'tude of the politiblog scene, some candidates may get nervous about entrusting their debates to a bunch of guys who spend their leisure hours mouthing off in very rambunctious, partisan ways. But both campaigns in the governor's race found it worth their while to take the bloggers seriously, and the fellows in the Senate race will inevitably come around to the same conclusion. Yes, the politiblog world can be incestuous and is not yet a path to the bulk of the electorate. But as the gubernatorial campaigns figured out, the blogs have an influence beyond their own numbers, largely because the political professionals, the mainstream press and the politically involved voters do read the blogs, perhaps too religiously.

Miller and Webb will have to face each other in the coming weeks, and they're certainly under no obligation to let the bloggers control that event. But wouldn't it be fun if they did?

By Marc Fisher |  March 28, 2006; 7:01 AM ET
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Hey nice story. Regarding the blogging bit Jim Webb has done some outreach...he's 'live blogged' on Daily Kos twice and did a lengthy on the record interview with Jonathan Singer from MyDD.

Webb is also currently running a blog ad on Daily Kos.

Links here:

Also look for Wes Clark to publicly endorse Jim Webb tomorrow


Posted by: Corey | March 28, 2006 9:56 AM

Maybe there is some virtue in the deliberative nature of the Senate. It limits the damage Allen can do. Virginia might have been a lot better off if a "wounded sea slug" had been making decisions during his administration.

Perhaps someone will ask Allen about throwing his vaunted Jeffersonian principles overboard in his embrace of Bush's assertion of unfettered executive power. Is he maturing and discarding the folly of youth, or is he simply unprincipled?

Remember, Allen was a 1 term Congressman who ran for Governor to regain political employment. Losing his seat in the Senate might just give him full time to campaign for President.

Posted by: Cliff | March 28, 2006 10:21 AM

Hmmm, he now takes a whole week to make decisions. Maybe sometime in the future he, or someone on his staff, will decide to take a leaf from Sen. John Warner's book and respond to constuent e-mails, letters, etc. While Warner frequently responds to e-mails with well thought out letters, Sen. Allen's office doesn't respond to anything. Iwasn't impressed with him as our govenor, but I figure that he can do less damage as a senator. Heaven help us if he ever becomes president!

Posted by: Beth | March 28, 2006 11:27 AM

According to a poll released today by Rasmussen, Allen leads Webb by 24 points, and leads Miller by even more. So other than posing another opportunity to bash Allen and praise Warner, what exactly is the basis for your claim that the election "at least now has a chance to be more interesting"
PS, in regards to your past statement that you must be impartial when it comes to Warner because your email is evenly split between saying you're too nice or too harsh, have you takin into account that the Post's online readership is approximately 90% liberal. See, e.g., the polls taken in the Weingarten chats.

Posted by: Al | March 28, 2006 1:26 PM

Instead of reprinting Democratic press releases, maybe you should check the real intent of Allen's remarks. There is a major distinction between being frustrated by a process and being bored--as the NY Times reporter characterized Allen. He never said he was bored--he said the process was slow. There's nothing new in that sentiment.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 28, 2006 1:34 PM

Interesting comment about the blogs' influence beyond their #s...I'd never heard of Daily Kos, etc. until I started reading about them in Howie Kurtz's column. The traditional print media fear the cyber media and yet the cyber media would never make it from the cyberspace to reality without promotion from the traditional media.

Posted by: Steve | March 28, 2006 1:36 PM

To Al: The readership of the Post may, indeed, be disproportionately liberal, but I wouldn't draw that conclusion based on a completely unscientific poll conducted within a webchat populated through self-selection.

Posted by: THS | March 28, 2006 1:45 PM

It was George Allen who called former attorney general Jerry Kilgore, a lifelong attorney, a "prove tax cutter." Kilgore never once held a position where he had the authority to cut taxes or even vote for a tax decrease. During Kilgore's awful run at governor, Allen made all kinds of hilarious comments, meanwhile, Warner looked teethy and honest. Sheesh. George Allen is as plastic as they get, people. Please disregard this guy. And I am a republican.

Posted by: Dan the Man | March 28, 2006 2:18 PM

Steve said: The traditional print media fear the cyber media and yet the cyber media would never make it from the cyberspace to reality without promotion from the traditional media.

Another angle on the relationship between the MSM and the blogosphere is the absurd claims of irrelevance that the blogosphere makes re the MSM when, in fact, most of what they do depends on the news they get from the MSM.

Posted by: THS | March 28, 2006 4:20 PM

Where's the part in Mark's article about *Allen's* position in the blogosphere? If you check the conservative sites, the informal early polling conducted by the Conservatives who actually determine the presidential nominees shows Allen either on top, or among the top 3. In other words, Conservatives across the country love this guy. The Post, on the other hand ... how many crazed editorials did it write *against* Allen in the closing days of his gubernatorial election against Mary Sue Terry? The sky was falling. Then it fell. And now it might fall ALL ACROSS THE NATION. Shivers!

Posted by: Discman | March 28, 2006 5:01 PM

Frankly, Discman, the possibility of an Allen presidency does give me the shivers.

Posted by: Judi | March 28, 2006 6:06 PM

Ahh, yes, the Conservatives who will determine the nomination like George Allen. No news there.

Are those Conservatives not the same shrinking percentage of poll respondents who still think that George Bush is doing a good job? Could it be because Allen and Bush have the same first name? The same level of intelligence? The same belief that they've been chosen by God? Or because or some equally mystifying reason that defies common sense?

Geroge Allen supporters never let little things like facts get in the way of their ideology or political preferences.

Posted by: Mister CH4 | March 29, 2006 11:20 PM

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