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 washingtonpostradio.com, 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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