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George Allen's Zen Ad: Can You Be Misquoted If You Were Never Quoted?

Sen. George Allen's latest TV ad features yet another woman who says Jim Webb is a bad man who doesn't like women. This time, we're introduced to Janice Buxbaum, a member of the first class of women to attend the Naval Academy. Buxbaum, like the women in an earlier Allen ad, purports to be upset even all these years later about a 1979 article that Democratic challenger Webb wrote in Washingtonian magazine.

In the Allen ad, Buxbaum claims she is misquoted in Webb's piece. Which is odd, because if you read the story, you'll see she's actually not quoted at all. Her name does not appear in the article.

Perhaps Buxbaum believes she is quoted without her name. In fact, one woman student is quoted blindly in the Webb piece. Here is the entirety of that passage:

Another woman, tall and reserved, commented that men she does not know frequently come up to her and tell her, "You don't belong here, did you know that? Why don't you leave?" "I tell them, 'That's tough. I'm here.' " In her next breath she speaks of wanting to wear the same hat that males wear. "I'm a midshipman, not a midshipwoman. I am the same. I'm tired of sticking out."

Clearly, if this is Buxbaum, this is hardly a quotation being used to bolster Webb's argument that women can't fight. To the contrary, this midshipwoman's voice presents the view that reality trumps Webb's notions about what women can't do. Women are here, she's saying, deal with it.

This can't possibly be the quotation Buxbaum would have us believe still offends her a quarter of a century later.

So we're left with this: The Allen campaign has put out an ad and is spending $650,000 in TV buys--mostly in the D.C. market--to spread the word that Webb, as Buxbaum says in the spot, is "just not an honest man." And the ad that's supposed to send that message is, well, just a tad short on honesty.

Buxbaum, on examination, appears to be a whole lot less certain about things than the ad makes her out to be. In an interview with The Post, she concedes that she can't recall what the quotes were that Webb supposedly was going to use in his Washingtonian story, and she concedes that whatever the offensive quotes were, Webb never used them.

The ad labels Buxbaum like this: "Democrat." She says in the spot that "I don't want him in my party. And I don't want him in my Senate." It's a powerful moment. Except that Buxbaum--like, ahem, Webb himself--appears to have switched teams at some point. Virginia doesn't have party registration, but state election records show that Buxbaum voted in the Virginia Republican primary in 2000, and, as the Associated Press reported, she gave $500 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2003. (She also donated $1,000 to Democrat John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004, so quite possibly she's a party-neutral moderate, which is truly a lovely thing to be.)

In the article, Webb argued that women are not fit to see combat. Like much of Webb's journalism of that period, the piece is mainly about how tough a guy Webb is and how manly his pals are. The piece feels quaint and a little childish from this remove. Webb's main point is that "men fight better." Men, he says, reasonably enough, are generally more violent; men commit far more homicides, men commit rape, etc. Therefore, he argues, men are suited for combat; women are not.

"There is a place for women in our military, but not in combat. And their presence at institutions dedicated to the preparation of men for combat command is poisoning that preparation. By attempting to sexually sterilize the Naval Academy environment in the name of equality, this country has sterilized the whole process of combat leadership training, and our military forces are doomed to suffer the consequences."

But if Webb's whole shtick is that he's a manly man, then where's the aggressive campaign? Wouldn't a tough guy present his own perspective on what the last few weeks' various George Allen stories-- macaca, Jewish heritage, racial slurs--really mean about his opponent's character?

Allen's campaign against Webb has focused almost wholly on the idea that the challenger is anti-woman. Allen's first TV spot on the issue is powerful and makes you want to demand answers from Webb. Webb's response ad is also compelling, if not exactly a direct answer to the allegations about Webb's personal beliefs.

In the end, both candidates are trying to send the same message: Judge me by what I've done in office (as Navy Secretary promoting women, or as governor and senator working for black farmers and black colleges), not by what boneheaded stuff I've said in the past.

And both of these guys love to wear boots. And both are really Republicans (Webb's transformation into a Dem is recent and rather thin.) Both candidates like to be thought of as men's men. Both chew tobacco. Such similar gents: Why don't they just kiss and make up?

Oh, right--the war. There is that. Their views are miles apart there. But there's not a word about that on Webb's home page. And not a word about it on Allen's page either.

Candidates love to slash at the news media for ignoring the "issues." But if the candidates themselves are barely touching those matters of policy, and voters are busy trying to figure out which candidate is suitable for office, what is the real story of this Senate race? One thing it isn't about: Whether Webb is anti-woman. Surely George Allen can come up with something better.

Both candidates get their last big chance to show more in tonight's televised debate, seen in the Washington area on WETA (Channel 26) at 8 p.m.

By Marc Fisher |  October 9, 2006; 7:33 AM ET
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Comments

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Ah, back to attacking George Allen. The brown paper bag full of fifty dollar bills must have arrived from DNC headquarters. Like a Bad Penny, we know Raw Fisher will be back, over-and-over, to sling mud and at Senator Allen. Nevermind any pretense of journalistic balance - he is a newspaperman whose columns are bought and paid for.

Posted by: Virginia Voter | October 9, 2006 8:55 AM

There must be some mistake. George Allen was running ads telling us not to linger on things said in the past and that we should focus on the issues. I guess he's just another flip-flopper from the Senate.

Posted by: Josey | October 9, 2006 9:10 AM

I'm hoping the south really will rise again and put Senator George Allen out of Office and elect a new Democratic Senator Webb. Let's show the Country that Virginia represents the new South and that racism and the confederate flag are things of the past. (Also, show bullies that picking on and trying to humiliate nice smart American college kids with Indian ancestry just isn't right.)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2006 9:14 AM

This came from the Washington Times this morning -- (quoting)
"Sen. George Allen has failed for the past five years to tell Congress about the stock options he got for his work as a director of a high-tech company. Mr. Allen, a Virginia Republican running for re-election, also asked the Army to help another business that gave him similar options."

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2006 9:29 AM

MORE ALLEN SCANDAL

Well, here we go again--just in time for some good questions at tonight's debate.

The AP has distributed a story headlined "Allen failed to report stock options." The story reports that for the past five years, Allen hasn't disclosed to the Congress, as Congressional rules require, information concerning stock options he got for his work as a director of a high-tech company. Allen also asked the Army to help another business that gave him similar options.

You can read the complete AP story here:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061009/ap_on_el_se/allen_in_business;_ylt=AnnceAnmkQrRJHssLH4vEwKs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3OXIzMDMzBHNlYwM3MDM-

Posted by: BB10 | October 9, 2006 9:41 AM

Where's Ross Perot when you need him?

Posted by: Grownup for Senate | October 9, 2006 10:18 AM

How much does it take before even the most loyal Republicans see that Sen. Allen is not a guy who should be representing them in the Senate? I would rather see another Republican win this seat than have Allen go back the Senate (not possible this time around, I realize that). I am fairly new to the area and I am surprised these things did not come out in his first run for Senate.
It must be hard for him getting up in the morning wondering what the press will have found out about.
As a woman, I am not very concerned about Mr. Webb's supposed issues with women in the military - those things were written at a time when no one wanted women in the military. There is a significant difference between Webb's views on women in the military and Allen's racial issues - all of us should have been past the antics Allen supposedly was involved with at the time Webb was writing his articles in what was a ground-breaking era for women.
What really surprises me is that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committe has not started running ads for Webb - maybe because he is a 'marginal Democrat? Even a marginal one is better than Mr. Allen. Why would the Committee be running ads for Cardin when his race is really pretty safe?

Posted by: MD voter | October 9, 2006 11:02 AM

The AP ran the news item about Allen's latest foible in failing to report what he should have on his diclosure form late yesterday afternoon , but I didn't see it in the Post this morning. What's up with that?

Posted by: jmsbh | October 9, 2006 11:12 AM

bah, who cares. have these guys actually talked about issues yet? Who cares what Allen or Webb said 30 years ago. Not going to make a difference in my life.

If Webb wants to win he's going to have to have something substantive to stay and stand on, else my vote goes to Allen. At least I know what I'm getting.

Posted by: NM | October 9, 2006 11:41 AM

How could Allen fail to report $150,000 in Commonwealth Biotechnologies stock options in 2004 ?

Posted by: w | October 9, 2006 11:43 AM

The ad labels Buxbaum like this: "Democrat." She says in the spot that "I don't want him in my party.

To paraphrase Buxbaum (if that is she) "Tough, he's here."

Posted by: Thom | October 9, 2006 12:35 PM

I hope someone at the Webb campaign is in touch with an attorney. That ad should be pulled immediately by television stations, it's got flat out lies in it. I hate to see this campaign have to resort ot that type of tactic, but frankly, Allen needs to learn that he cannot lie to the voters of Virginia like this and expect it to slide.

Posted by: Arlington Mike | October 9, 2006 12:45 PM

How can you guys ignore that AP story?
And there's way more there if you dig. The least of which is that a Xybernaut official was a big Allen campaign contributor. Allen's law firm made bundles of money while this company made losers of taxpayers and other shareholders.

Posted by: GeorgeAllenVa | October 9, 2006 12:50 PM

Allen's lost my vote. I'm tired of his smear campaign with "anti-woman" ads who I understand were designed by the creator of "Swiftboat Veteran's for Truth."

Enough of these women with 27-year old grudges. They knew they were entering into centuries-old male-dominated institutions and that they would face intense criticism, particularly for combat leadership.

Allen has a lot of nerve running these ads particularly with his own lack of pro-women votes (VMI & FMLA), lack of military experience, and his unconditional support of Bush's Iraq policy. Tough questions need to be asked about this war and its resolution, and Allen isn't asking them. I believe Webb will.

Webb's article is 27 years old. Allen's "macaca" comments are fresh - they are who he is today. Allen has asked Virginians to judge he and Webb on the issues, not their past beliefs. Are we supposed to equate the "past" (27 years versus a couple weeks) in the same way? I think not.

It's time for a fresh perspective from a moderate veteran - someone who is NOT a yes-man to the Bush Administration. I vote for Webb.

Posted by: VA Voter | October 9, 2006 1:31 PM

What has happened to moral leadership?
I'm voting for Jim Webb

Posted by: mbaker@bop.gov | October 9, 2006 1:56 PM

There's not a word about Iraq on Webb's website? What on earth are you talking about? One click, under "issues". For Heaven's sake.

http://www.webbforsenate.com/issues/issues.php#iraq

Posted by: Steve | October 9, 2006 1:57 PM

I have watched these Allen ads with disbelief. If they weren't already bad enough, we now find that the latest one isn't even true! I'm almost as embarrassed for the women in these ads as I am for Allen in thinking they would work. I watched Webb and Allen on Meet the Press... Webb offers real ideas for the future, Allen just tries to distract us from his past.
- From a VA woman voter for Webb

Posted by: Arlington_Joan | October 9, 2006 2:03 PM

Rumor has it that "stock option" is a term that was used in Tunisia and other parts of North Africa when Allen's mom lived there. Perhaps that explains why he now claims not to know anything about stock options.

Posted by: MT Virginia Voter | October 9, 2006 2:04 PM

With all the things that Allen has been saying of late, its time to send him off into the sunset to find out who he is in reality!

He damn well knows what macaca means and he denied that, he dislikes blacks and makes racial slurs, and hes up Bushes proverbial ass like a tampon, so vote for Allen and give the repubs another shot at destroying our America!!!!!

Posted by: Betty | October 9, 2006 2:06 PM

Virginia Voter, why don't you address the subtance of the blog entry you're so upset about? What errors of fact or judgment lead you to accuse Mr. Fisher of being on the take from the DNC?

Posted by: Pontifex | October 9, 2006 2:40 PM

Just Google "George Allen corruption". I used to be quite independent when I voted. After these 6 years, I'll never again vote R. The party is rotten to the core. There is no excuse for this. Those that are not directly involved are guilty at least of not speaking up. That goes for torture, tax cuts for the rich, the giveaway of our health care and medicines to Corporate stockholders, raping of the environment, outsourcing of jobs, shredding the Constuition of the United States of America. Name an issue, and the Republicans have done nothing but lie, cheat and steal while pointing to the boogey man and telling us to hide under the bed.
Bah. Republicans that have any "values" whatsoever left will either vote Dem, or stay home.

Posted by: Emma | October 9, 2006 2:51 PM

A friend who is a Republican and lives in another state (FL), said that Allen "isn't so much an empty suit, as an empty sheet."

He is a national laughingstock. If the Commonwealth returns him for another term in the Senate, it sends a message that in Virginia, it's OK to insult people of non-European ancestry and consort with bigots and racists. I don't think that's a good idea.

Posted by: fredneck1951 | October 9, 2006 3:24 PM

On the issue of Webb's views about women in the military, I agree w/ some of the things that have been said above. To wit, those comments were made a long time ago vs. Allen's remarks of the past few months and the women were entering domain in which they were challenged in multiple ways, not just by Jim Webb.

That's not to say that Jim Webb was taking a generous or progressive view back then, but there was a principled basis to his remarks--one that I'm sure many Americans would agree w/ today, even though Webb's views are now more moderate.

Most important, Webb opened new roles to women in the Navy when he was Secretary of the Navy and, if his own reports are true, he did it in a way that made it more likely that Navy officers would buy in to the idea. Further, he has said now that he is entirely comfortable w/ the way women are serving in the military. On Meet the Press, he told a story about a female helicopter pilot in Afghanistan who had given him "the ride of his life." He was obviously impressed w/ her competence and even her daring-do.

Posted by: THS | October 9, 2006 3:32 PM

This article does what journalists are supposed to do: call b.s. on politicians who lie in their ads. Shame on George Allen.

Posted by: Post reader | October 9, 2006 3:41 PM

On another topic, Marc couldn't be more right about Webb being only recently transformed into being a Democrat--and about that transformation not being exactly a deep change of heart or head.

I would certainly rather have someone who is a real Democrat defeat Allen, but it's not clear that anyone could this year. By the end of Webb's term, Northern Virginia will have grown more, and Virginia will have become increasingly Democratic. If he were to win now but leave office then, which I think is reasonably likely, a real Democrat might have a chance. Also, as in all elections, we have the alternatives we have. If we want to vote, we have to vote for one of them.

I'd far rather see Webb in office than Allen. Although I might disagree w/ Webb on some points, he is, at least, a serious person who thinks about his positions, has reasons for what he says, and can express them w/ conviction since they are really a product of his own thinking.

Allen, on the other hand, is an empty shirt. I don't see anything like independent judgment operating when he is talking.

Why do I think Webb would leave after one term? I don't know, of course, but he is in the neighborhood of 60 and is seeking an elected office for the first time. He is not, at heart, a politician. He cares a great deal about policy--at least in certain areas, which is true of all politicians, but he is not a hand-shaker. I have the sense he would rather be writing or engaged in a serious one-to-one policy argument than wheeling and dealing re whether a senator from North Dakota will vote to build a road in Virginia if he will vote to build one there.

My crystal ball isn't any more revealing than anyone else's; nonetheless, I predict that Allen will win, but won't stay in the Senate long.

Posted by: THS | October 9, 2006 3:50 PM

Anyone who has seen the debates and has a half a brain should either vote for Webb or not vote. Allen doesn't answer any questions and he doesn't seem to have much going on upstairs. It's time to be represented by our Senators again.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2006 4:15 PM

It's not too surprising that Allen is resorting to swiftboating and a string of negative ads; he doesn't have much of a Senatorial record to run on.

As a woman, a Virginian and a veteran, I have been following Webb's statements carefully, and looked at his past record as Navy Secretary. I did not find anything to give me concern at this point in time. On the other hand, watching the way Allen insulted a young man of Indian descent reminded me exactly of the playground buliies I really hated in elementary school, and that was within the last two months! The answer is simple, I'm voting for Webb.

Posted by: Barb Fauquier County | October 9, 2006 4:25 PM

I hope that Webb keeps his ads positive. Allen's ads just reinforce his Macaca image of ignorance and bullying. I am surprised that Allen's coverage in the Post has been so positive lately. The Metro article on Susan Allen was gushy and the article on Allen's "cowboy image" was lightweight. I expected better from the Post.

Posted by: Nancy of Annandale | October 9, 2006 4:41 PM

I couldn't agree more with Nancy of Annandale. I expect more from the Post, too. Also, tonight's debate showed Allen's bullying and confrontational style. He is no gentleman. I'm glad Webb is taking the high road on all of Allen's rude and baseless accusations.

Posted by: Arlington Voter | October 9, 2006 10:17 PM

So Webb would get hammered if he went negative -- and now he gets hammered for trying to stick to the issues.

Ridiculous

Posted by: Stacey | October 10, 2006 10:11 AM

Like the Webb radio commercial says, If Allen thinks the issue is what someone said 30 years ago, then HE is the one who has some explaining to do.

Enough said.

Posted by: CEEAF | October 10, 2006 4:28 PM

So they both chew, then obviously the most important question of the campaign is: Red Man or Mail Pouch?

Posted by: OD | October 10, 2006 5:02 PM

sock puppets.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 11, 2006 12:17 PM

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