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Virginia Senate: Low Blows and the Hook(nose)

Here we are, less than 100 hours from Election Day in Virginia, and the big kerfluffle in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate is about whether one campaign drew a naughty picture of the other candidate.

Oy vey! The expression is particularly apropos given that the Harris Miller campaign has spent the better part of a week trying to make a stink over a flyer from Jim Webb's campaign depicting their opponent as "Miller the Job Killer." The flyer is draw in comic book form, with caricatures of Miller, a Washington lobbyist who has pushed to protect companies that outsource American jobs. Two of those drawings show Miller's face, including a prominent and inelegantly shaped nose. A "hook nose," as a news release from the Miller camp is quick to call it.

The Miller campaign has spent the better part of a week trying to get someone in the news media to bite on what a terrible slur the Webb flyer contains, and, finally, someone did. The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star published a story quoting a number of Jews saying that the depiction of Miller was "replete with anti-Semitic stereotypes," as George Washington University media professor Mark Feldstein puts it in the story. He cites the "hook nose," the money sticking out of Miller's jacket pocket in the cartoon, and the reference to Miller as the "anti-Christ of outsourcing."

That quotation, which the Webb campaign has indeed used with great glee, comes originally from a column about Miller in Information Week, a trade magazine for computer tech professionals.

Obviously, the Webb folks deny any anti-Semitism, with good reason: It's a pretty big stretch to find anything anti-Jewish about the Webb flyer. The flyer is avowedly and crashingly anti-Miller, and it's a fun, populist piece, focusing on the obviously uncomfortable position Miller's lobbying work has put him in as he now tries to persuade Virginians that he's somehow a man of the people.

But anti-Semitic? First of all, until the Miller campaign started to make noise about this flyer, hardly a soul in Virginia knew that Harris Miller is Jewish. And there was no sign that anyone cared. Second, I showed the flyer to 22 Jews and not a single one saw anything remotely wrong with it. Only after I prompted them did people see the exaggerated nose, but since not a one of them knew what Miller really looks like, no one could tell whether this was a fair caricature or not. Well, it is.

Will these guys have anything substantive to say to one another in their one and only Washington-area debate, this morning on Washington Post Radio? Join me and Mark Plotkin at 10 a.m. today (Friday), or listen to the debate as a podcast at, as Webb, Miller, Plotkin and I spend an hour together in this last face-to-face meeting of the candidates before Tuesday's vote.

By Marc Fisher |  June 9, 2006; 8:21 AM ET
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1. I had no idea Miller was Jewish until your second-to-last paragraph.

2. One could argue that it might be misconstrued as anti-Semitic, but only if it doesn't look like Miller. If it looks like Miller, then there's really not much he can do about it.

3. There's money sticking out of his pocket because he was a lobbyist. C'mon on that one. And while I would not have authorized the use of "antichrist" in any of my campaign literature, I don't know that I would immediately interpret it as anti-Semitic.

Posted by: OD | June 9, 2006 10:03 AM

Thank you for standing up to what is clearly the lowest of the low of political attacks by the Miller camp. If you look at the cartoon - which may not be the best move politically but is dead on accurate in the way it questions Miller's history of outsourcing jobs - the only thing that the visual of Harris Miller actually stereotypes is... Harris Miller!

Check out this link ( from a Virginia blogger that does a side-by-side comparision. It's pretty clear that Miller's nose was depicted for what it looks like. If his camp wants to use this as a political stunt, I'd hope that Virginia voters would have enough brains to see through it.

I'm really disgusted by the way Miller had to turn this campaign negative. His people have realized they have nothing good to run on, other than calling Webb names and making false accusations. It's shameful, and frankly, it's one reason that I'll vote for Webb, and should Miller win (unfortunately), I'd be much less supportive of Miller.

Posted by: Arlington Mike | June 9, 2006 10:08 AM

1. It looks exactly like Miller. This is a case where someone has decided to "find the anti-smeitism." Of course, if you looked hard enough, you could find something at the Anti-Defamation League that could look antisemitic.
Is there anything more to this campaign than "He voted for Bush" and "He gave money to Hastert"?

Posted by: NoVa Dem | June 9, 2006 10:52 AM

This is the biggest stretch of lies by the Miller campaign. How this flier is derogatory in any shape or form is beyond me. Miller folks are trying to outdo themselves even by their own low standards.

Posted by: reinberg | June 9, 2006 11:12 AM

With the strategic vision the Dems have for the 08 election (anti corruption platform), "CAREER LOBBYIST" says it all. We need to get all lobbyists completely out of politics (think Abramoff) and electing one isn't doing that. If Virginia elects Miller, they're sending a "pro-corruption - We Love Lobbyists" and hardly a national Dem Party message. Then again, maybe the Miller Democrats in Virginia would prefer Allen for a second term.

Posted by: Virginian | June 9, 2006 11:34 AM

I think everyone is missing the main point here. The fact that some individuals were insulted should be enough. I think that this cartoon combined with the "anti-christ of outsourcing" comment was more insensitive than anti-Jewish. When you look at Nazi era propaganda cartoons, some of the stereotypes expressed in them are quite similar to the cartoons in question. I found a comparison at I think the fact that Jim Webb apologized and recognized that this could be insensitive on the WTOP debate should calm people down.

Posted by: Edward | June 9, 2006 12:03 PM

Here's the thing:

Did the people who were insulted and found it offensive actually know what Miller looks like? Were they prompted with questions like, "do you find this to be an offensive cartoon because of the anti-Semitic images?" Were the citizens interviewed "average Joes," or were they people who were directed to the paper by the Miller campaign or who follow the Miller campaign? Did know about Miller's extensive career as a lobbyist for big corporations (hence the bills in the pocket)?

I agree, it's best to let it die. And it might not've been the best tactical move. But to let the Miller people get away with this type of slam without calling them on it, that's wrong.

(Just like the "anti-Christ of outsourcing" comment, which was NOT a Jim Webb original, but was written by someone in the IT industry criticizing Miller's consistent support for companies that ship white collar IT jobs overseas. But the Miller campaign doesn't want you to know that, they'd rather twist the truth.)

Posted by: Arlington MIke | June 9, 2006 12:21 PM

This whole brouhaha is pretty sad. As someone pointed out above, how many people even knew -- and of them what tiny percentage cared -- that Miller is Jewish?

Being Jewish, and knowing thousands of Jews, I had a pretty good idea that someone named Harris Miller was Jewish, but I was hoping we could at least make it through the primary without his religion being an issue.

I think this was a poor move by the Miller campaign. Virginia actually has the only Jewish Republican House member in the country -- Jay Cantor. Norm Sisisky was a long-time Democratic congressman. Both from districts with few Jews. I find it hard to believe that there are still more than a handful of Virginians who would not vote for Miller based on his religion.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | June 9, 2006 1:16 PM

You know, I think the flyer is the best reason imaginable to vote FOR Miller. Why would anyone vote for an idiot who wants to stand in the way of globalization?

Posted by: Living in the 21st Century | June 9, 2006 2:13 PM

Miller is going around planting these outrageous lies about anti-Semitism with reporters and editors. He should be disqualified as any Virginian's choice just on that alone.

Posted by: Webb2006! | June 9, 2006 3:02 PM

You guys are all missing the big story of this debate: Miller said he would "support moving quickly to cut off funds" for our fighting men and women in Iraq. As the Webb campaign says, "Troop safety is already underfunded. Miller's advocacy is a slap in the face to all American troops who have courageously volunteered to fight and defend America in Iraq. Miller has previously advocated a withdrawal plan that leaves American soldiers in Iraq until Iraqi soldiers are trained to replace them. A combination of Miller's 2 Iraq plans means American troops will remain in Iraq for the indefinite future with no funding."

Posted by: Webb4Senate | June 9, 2006 3:11 PM


It's kids hour over at the Webb campaign.

No top-notch campaign manager would ever allow consent for "approved." Just awful.

Marc--you've obviously must not have spent too much time in Southwest Virginia. The REAL ISSUE is not what Jews think in that region (there are a few), but what likely redneck democratic voters think in that region.

I was one of those redenck dems until I left for the city life in 1997. Since then, I have become more sensitive and understanding. I have also come to a sense of embarrassment over how my friends and family perceive the world, particularly when it comes to tolerance and respect.

I was not surprised to read that this flyer came from my native region. I'm embarassed about that.

A terrible flyer, and Webb should really be ashamed about that. He deserves some bad press for this slimy act.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 9, 2006 3:44 PM

Miller's campaign has been negative for weeks. It would be easy for the candidates to take the high ground. Their ads and comments could focus on their candidates' positives.

I could forgive Miller being a lobbyist, or even for advocating outsourcing, but the guy seems to have a perspective which is small and short-term, and that's really not what the Senate is about. And hyperventilating about a little criticism is not a virtue; if this flyer triggers Miller's temper, one can only imagine what George Allen's amoral minions would do to him in the fall election.

So I'm voting for Webb on Tuesday. Half a Democrat is better than none.

Posted by: lart from above | June 9, 2006 4:02 PM

Wow, what a stretch. The Miller campaign must be really desperate.

Posted by: Charlie M | June 9, 2006 6:14 PM

Arlington Mike,

After checking the link I can't understand what the ruckus is all about either. True, that caricature is hardly flattering, but that's mainly because Miller himself is rather frumpy and soft-looking. I can honestly say that when I looked at the cartoon face I didn't associate it with any ethnic type--unless, of course, doughy lobbyist dweeb is a recognized minority now. I don't know if it's true that most folks were unaware of Miller's religious affiliation before he himself brought attention to it, but I know I had no idea prior to reading this item that he's Jewish. Nor, for that matter, did I care.

Miller's problems stem from his career as a lobbyist and his embracing of job outsourcing, period. His lame attempt to claim himself a victim of "anti-Semitism" smacks of cynicism and desperation and is insulting to those Jews who have suffered genuine discrimination because of their religion. Miller deserves to lose.

Posted by: KR20852 | June 9, 2006 7:29 PM

Posted by: BlogZoner | June 10, 2006 2:13 AM

It is amazing that so many people are saying the ad is ok if it looks like Miller. How about truth in advertising? If that is the criteria, the buffed Webb looks nothing like the guy I've seen around. Miller's characteristics are exaggerated to look more Jewish, while Webb must have been in a House of Mirrors to think he looks like that... I was in Web's corner until I saw this flyer - and I didnt need Miller to tell me what was wrong with it. I think Virginia Dems deserve better than a candidate that has resorted to insulting his opponent in comic strips. Whatever happened to good old debating? Webb is proving to be just another Republican and starting to remind a lot of a certain individual sitting in the White House...

Posted by: Rick | June 10, 2006 11:43 AM

"Virginia Primary Candidate Offshore Outsoucer Lobbyist Tries to Create Media Storm with False Accusation" should be the real title of these smear articles.

This is a class Miller public relations technique. He blasts a lie through the media space with a catchy title and tries to turn that slogan into some sort of truth.

Glad someone is calling this out because it's despicable this late in the campaign.

Posted by: ITAA propaganda tactic | June 10, 2006 2:01 PM

Has anyone checked out the cartoons that are present at Some seem similar to the Webb flier in question. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Webb camp claim that the person that authored it was some young overeager staffer. The name on the cartoon is "J Stanley." After performing a simple web search, I arrived at the Franklin County Democratic Committee. The chairman of this Committee is Joe Stanley. Anyone know if this is the person who actually authored the cartoon? If so, this is very troubling.

Posted by: Edward | June 10, 2006 4:15 PM

Someone above has it right--the real issue here is that this cartoon is "code" to rednecks that Miller is Jewish, and using the quote "anti-christ" is the icing on the cake, no matter whether or not it's from InformationWeek. It's similar to the fliers the the Bush people put out at Churches in Texas insinutating that Anne Richards was a lesbian. It's not about whether this cartoon offended Jews, it's about the centuries-old subtle racist code that is being used in these ads. I do give credit to Webb for apologizing, but he knows that his flier was code for all the anti-semites and klansmen down there just as well. Shame on Webb.

Posted by: silvio dante | June 10, 2006 5:43 PM

Outsource Miller.

Posted by: Burger flipper | June 10, 2006 5:56 PM

There is first-hand testimony over on the Raising Kaine blog from someone who heard Miller say directly that he hoped that he could use the charge of anti-semitism against Allen. [See]

So, Miller was primed to use this accusation as a political tactic.

Miller surrogates and Allen supporters jumped all over the statement that some viewed Miller as the "anti-Christ" because of his advocacy for offshore outsourcing of American jobs and importation of foreign replacement workers (H-1b and L-1 visa workers). The term was used in a non-hostile IT magazine interview with Miller by a technology issues journalist who was never accused of "anti-semitism"! Though "anti-christ" has no religious or secular connection to being Jewish, the Miller proxies and Allen supporters engaged in a scandalous campaign of disinformation accusing Webb of "jew-baiting" and "anti-semitism". This was the foreshadowing to the present charge now gleefully made by Miller and his proxies.

Now, along comes a cartoon which bears a tremendous likeness to a real photograph of Miller and again we hear the charge of "anti-semitism". Do people deny that the cartoon is bears no resemblance whatsover to the physical appearance of Harris Miller? The image is not a radical departure from the true physical appearance of Miller.

Comparing the recent Miller 'toon to nazi era propaganda pics is nonsense. I've seen examples of the Nazi era cartoons attacking Jews. The recent 'toon of Miller is NOT even close to the savage illustrations used by the Nazis.

Even making such a comparison shows the depths to which Miller and Miller's supporters have sunk. Debasing the memory of Jewish suffering in the Holocaust and attempting to use the persecution and annihilation of the Jewish people as a club against Webb defiles the suffering of the Jewish people and blurs the reality of what real anti-semitism is.


If there was even a shred of evidence that Webb was an anti-semite, I doubt very much that Chuck Schumer would support Jim Webb over Harris Miller.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2006 6:06 PM

Give me a break about Those guys and gals are Webb campaign employees. I wouldn't take anything they are saying as fact. They are the ones that have been throwing insults at Miller from day one.

Posted by: Alicia | June 10, 2006 9:13 PM

The comic strip is decidedly anti-Miller, not anti-Semitic. This is obviously a weak attempt to generate sympathy and noise for Miller's campaign. Miller himself does far more damage to the public perception of us Jews with his deceptive, pathetic and outlandish campaign tactics, than any loser could hope to accomplish.

Posted by: Billy Chaudry | June 10, 2006 9:39 PM

Miller planned on playing the race card in December? That's a character issue.

Posted by: Concerned | June 11, 2006 12:46 AM

Alicia: While it is true that Raising Kaine is strongly pro-Webb and strongly anti-Miller, not a single one of us is a paid staffer of the Webb campaign. Most of us are volunteering our time to help Webb win this Tuesday, but so are 2,500 other citizens across Virginia. Actually, come to think of it, Webb has also had numerous volunteers from DC and Maryland, so it's not just Virginians who care about this race. Nationally, there's tremendous support for Jim Webb, close to none for Harris Miller. That includes John Kerry, who will be in Arlington tomorrow at 3:30 PM for a rally with Jim Webb at Campaign HQ (1916 Wilson Blvd). Come check it out, everyone; the media will be out in force and it should be great!

Posted by: Lowell | June 11, 2006 7:01 AM

Didn't John Kerry lose in 2004 by a pretty sizeable margin in Virginia? How is this going to help Webb win? I see some similarities between Kerry and Webb. Kerry was labeled as a flip-flopper by the Republicans, much the same way Webb is portrayed. I voted for George Allen before I opposed him. I voted for George Bush before I opposed him. If Webb is the candidate we are in big trouble if we ever want to win the Senate back in Virginia. This is just my own opinion. Miller seems to be running more then a one-issue campaign and seems better funded, willing to spend his own money if necessary, to run his campaign. Since Webb is quite rich, having written numerous books and screenplays, one has to ask himself why he complains about not having any money to run TV ads, radio spots, or send out direct mailers. If he doesn't believe in his campaign, why should I?

I think anyone who would go over and visit Raising Kaine would be appaled at the Miller bashing that has gone on from day one. It is the Raising Kaine site that has kept alive this controversial cartoon, which at the very least is of poor taste. The Webb campaign has been the worst run campaign I have seen in my entire life. If Webb does win, we can count on four more years of Allen. Nobody wants that!

Posted by: Alicia | June 11, 2006 8:25 AM

I am a 65 year old retired Navy Captain who happens to be Jewish. The Harris Miller anti-semitism charge against Jim Webb is as hollow as his earlier attempt to play the race card on affirmative action. It is as disgraceful as it is dishonorable. These kinds of divisive tactics on the part of a self-professed real Democrat only brings shame to the name Democrat, and can only make it harder to defeat George Allen in the fall. Mr. Miller's tactics remind me of the Republican right's slander of John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary.

I wonder if the Post Editorial Page is having buyer's remorse over its endorsement of Miller. It is hard to see how wonkishness can trump honor.

Posted by: Ralph Parrott | June 11, 2006 11:13 AM

Mr. Parrot I strongly disagree with your analysis. Mr. Webb in my mind reminds me a lot of the Nixon campaign. Nixon used race-baiting to win the Southern White Male voter. You have been brainwashed by the online army of Webb supporters into this crazy conspiracy theory that Miller's campagin conspired to spread this message. Mr. Miller acknowledged that he did not think that Mr. Webb was anti-Jew. When the experts like Feldstein and Newman analyzed the cartoon and say that that it is "replete with anti-Semitic stereotypes" (Feldstein) what are people supposed to think. Are you an expert in this area? I know I'm not. These crazy accusations are just that, crazy. If Fisher has proof that individuals from the Miller campaign spread this then why doesn't he name names. It is simply because he has made prior statements in support of Webb.

Posted by: Alicia | June 11, 2006 3:05 PM

Do not accuse me of conspiracy theories. You could not be more misguided. I am probably as normal a guy as you have ever known, and as liberal as any 65 year old that you have ever known. I am a father of three, grandfather of 4. I have been married to the same lady for 44 years. All my children are card carrying liberals if there is such a thing, and we have lively political discussion at all family events which ar many. I sit on the board of the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA)which is a pretty liberal bunch. You seem to be letting your sterotypes of military people show through a bit without any knowledge of the facts of my life. I hope this little biography will be instructive to you the next time you engage in sterotyping.

In reality, Harris Miller tried to drop two specious charges, racism and anti-semitism, on Jim Webb, and I am calling him on it. I know Jim Webb, I know his record, I have read his books. I am the first to say that I do not agree with him on all things. However,I defy you or anyone to find anything anti-semitic or anti-African American anywhere in his record.

If you think that Harris Miller was not trying to pin racism and anti-semitism on Jim Webb with his attacks you are surely naive. Claiming innocense after the charge is made is truly Nixonian or in contemporary terms Rovian. Color it however you will, it was a smear worthy of the Republicans that Harris Miller rails against and accuses Jim Webb of being.

If you would like to discuss this matter further with me feel free to call me at 703-503-7969. I would love to correspond with you. Feel free to email me at

Ralph Parrott

Posted by: Ralph Parrott | June 11, 2006 10:09 PM

Mr. Parrot, what stereotype have I pinned on you? I don't see any mention of your military service in my post? What proof do you have that Harris Miller was behind this? Ben Tribbett, a Webb insider, was the first one to bring up the fact that Harris was Jewish in the first place ( After this came up on the WTOP interview Miller immediately said, "I'm not accusing [Webb] personally of being anti-Semitic. I don't believe that for one second. Jim Webb is a good man." ( If this is country is so broken and headed in the wrong direction, give Webb a call and ask him to explain why he supported these policies in the first place by voting for Bush and Allen in 2000. He even campaigned against his fellow Marine Robb.

Posted by: Alicia | June 11, 2006 10:45 PM

Here's the truth of this article. The Post endorsed Miller then publicized Miller's last-resort, below-the-belt smear tactic and trumped-up race/religion card in hopes to further besmirch Webb and revitalize Miller's losing campaign. The cartoon is about anti- corruption and fits Miller perfectly. HE'S A LOBBYIST! I heard that Jack Abramoff had planned to make a special appearance on Miller's behalf but, due to unforseen events, was barred at the last minute. All of this "stuff" is a well coordinated effort by Miller and the Post to cast another unnecessary and innappropriate slur at James Webb. Shame on both. The Democratic Party should be ashamaed of Miller and, hopefully, a man of such little character will be recognized as such by the voters on Tuesday. It made my mind up for whom to vote.

Posted by: Virginian | June 12, 2006 10:37 AM

Mr. Fisher, I am curious as to whether you would agree with the Post's position on the cartoons distributed by Steve Gilliard that portrayed Michael Steele as "Simple Sambo."

As for the Webb campaign's fun, populist cartoon, I see in it more than a half dozen elements of classic anti-Semitic fascist propaganda, including: (1) the exaggerated hook in Miller's nose, which is prominently contrasted with a stereotypically European gentile nose in the second panel, (2) the cigar in the first panel, (3) the wads of cash in Miller's pocket, (4) Miller's jowls are portrayed as older and fatter than they look to me in any photos I've seen, (5) the phrase "anti-Christ of outsourcing" under the large type word "KILLER", (6) the very idea that Miller betrays his countrymen and has no true national loyalties, (7) the hypermuscular physique of Mr. Webb in the last panel, (8) the militaristic color scheme of that final panel. Egads, he's even wearing a brown shirt. Comicbook Superhero or Ãœbermensch?

I think there are too many fascist elements to be dismissed as coincidence, or the result of normal cartooning practices.

Posted by: Out West | June 12, 2006 11:27 PM

Hey Alicia,

A news flash for you. I voted for Webb and, if he loses, I'm either voting for Allen or not voting.

I suspect there are many in Virginia like me. Harris Miller stands as much chance of getting elected to the Senate as you do.

Finally, to engage in your dopey attacks on Mr. Parrott were sorely misguided. If Harris Miller is at all like you (and he seems to be), I wouldn't elect him dogcatcher of Arlington County.

Posted by: Typical VA voter | June 13, 2006 12:47 PM

Now that I've seen the cartoon, I have to tell you that it is anti-Semitic - without question.

1. The money

2. "anti-Christ", and

3. "The Solution" (where have we heard that before?)

Even the depiction of the muscular Miller is depicted as the opposite of the sterotypical Jewish intellectual. "Shut your mouth Killer" he says. It's a neo - Nazi fantasy.

About Miller being a lobbyist and supporting the outsourcing of was his job people. Just like a defense attorney defending criminals, he's a professional serving his clients. It has nothing to do with his personal beliefs. The whole thing is a gross distortion. Dirty tricks and pandering to an element of society that any serious person should be ashamed to defend.

It saddens me that some of you people can't see what the cartoon clearly is saying.

Posted by: George Iritz | June 14, 2006 1:34 PM

Harris Miller is doing something typically Jewish, that is, betraying his country of citizenship for more shekels.

Harris Miller looks typically Jewish.

But we aren't supposed to put 2 + 2 together because that would be anti-semitic/racist/nazi/bigoted.

Confucius once said that most problems of the world would be solved by simply calling things by their right names.

Harris Miller . . . Jew.

Posted by: Goy Boy | June 18, 2006 3:49 AM

I think the Miller campaign is anti semitic for insinuating that everyone with a 'hooked nose' is a a matter of fact, I have a very nice nose. Miller should apologize to American Jews for being the one who is trying to steriotype us.

Posted by: Maidala | June 28, 2006 1:26 AM

"About Miller being a lobbyist and supporting the outsourcing of was his job people."

A Defense Attorney may not have the luxury of choosing their clients, and everybody has the right to a fair trial with good representation.

But a Lobbyist chooses their job and who it is they wish to advocate for, and nobody has a right to hire shills.

Anti-lobbyist, sure.

anti-semitic... that's a huge stretch of the imagination.

Posted by: Harry Stockressy | June 28, 2006 7:26 PM

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