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Today's Big Story

Blame Those Damn Macacas

Democrats sweep Congress as the last Senate seat falls.

By Richard Warnica 9 Nov 2006 | TheTyee.ca

Richard Warnica is a senior editor at The Tyee.

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The Associated Press declared Democrat Jim Webb the winner in the Virginia Senate Race Wednesday putting an end to the two dominant narratives of the mid-term campaign.

The win, which was tight enough to require a recount, means the Democrats now control both houses of the US Congress for the first time since 1994, when Newt Gingrich swept to power on the wings of the Contract With America.

It also ends the political career of Republican incumbent George Allen, who until a stray comment at an August campaign rally was considered a lock for re-election and a probable candidate for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2008.

The New Yorker called the contest in Virginia “the strangest Senate race of the year.” And it became the perfect symbol for Republican ills and Democratic compromises in 2006.

The race generated, among other quirks, an Allen specific insult generator, kiddie porn press releases, and the sudden emergence of a South Asian voting block.

Allen, a popular former governor and son of famous football coach, was cruising to sure re-election this summer. But, in what may go down as the single stupidest campaign blunder in American history, he screwed it all up at an August rally.

A Webb campaign volunteer by the name of S. R. Sidarth was in the crowd that night, taping the event for the Democrat’s campaign. When Allen spied him he let loose these fateful words:

“This fellow here, over here, with the yellow shirt,” Allen said, “Macaca, or whatever his name is, he’s with my opponent. He’s following us around everywhere… So, welcome, let’s give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America, and the real world of Virginia.”

The macaca comment went viral. And Allen’s campaign hit the skids.

But the benefactor was no typical Democrat. Allen’s opponent was, in fact, a long time member of the Republican Party. Jim Webb even served as Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy.

Webb was, like many in an election dominated by the war in Iraq, a Democrat more out of disgust with George Bush than respect for the ideals the blue state party. He was also, as the Allen campaign pointed out, the author of some pretty graphic sexual fiction.

So on Tuesday, the Republican Party lost control of the US Senate because a disgusted former party member beat an incompetent current one.  For some reason I have trouble imagining that will be enough for the Democrats in 2008. After all 'we’re less disgusting and stupid than the other guys' will only take you so far.

Discuss.

(As an unrelated aside, as of midnight, three of top ten most emailed stories on the NY Times involved some form of bread. One dealt with Tuesday's election. You tell me what that means.)  [Tyee]

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