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Friday, August 18, 2006

"The Newshour" Finishes off the Week in Style

Just to make sure the macaca incident did not go gently into that good weekend, PBS's "The Newshour" had a nice re-airing of the video so everyone can remember.

The best part? David Brooks was "away" and whoever did they find to replace him? Ramesh Ponnuru, Senior editor of National Review, water carrier for the conservative agenda and...wait for it...INDIAN AMERICAN. How will he resolve the obvious conflict between shilling for Republicans and an insult that may well have been directed at him. Watch him dance, watch him twist, watch him be...totally, completely sensible about it (after a half-hearted attempt to conflate this remark with similar idiotic comments by Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton:
MARGARET WARNER: Now, the person George Allen was welcoming to America, talking to and about, was S.R. Sidarth. He's an American of Indian descent, a lifelong Virginian. He's now a University of Virginia student and a volunteer for Allen's Democratic opponent, James Webb.

And, Ramesh, the blogosphere went wild over this. Legitimately so?

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I think so. You know, partly it's because George Allen is considered a presidential hopeful for 2008, and partly because of just the weirdness of the entire incident and the fact that it was captured on tape. I mean, Indian-Americans, we've really been taking it on the chin from senators lately, between Joe Biden talking about the 7-Elevens, and Hillary Clinton about Gandhi having run a gas station. I don't know what it is with the senators these days.

MARGARET WARNER: So do you think it was a racist remark?

RAMESH PONNURU: I think at the very least it indicates a certain lack of political judgment on the part of George Allen and a certain kind of vindictiveness. To go after a 20-year-old, you know, who's working for the other campaign, just it makes you wonder whether this guy is really ready for primetime...

...MARK SHIELDS: I know. I mean, Macaca, he said, was a term that meant "Mohawk" haircut. And you saw the fellow's haircut. It was not a Mohawk haircut. Macaca and Mohawk have nothing there at all. Then he meant nothing, then if he did mean to hurt anybody feelings, he pleaded no malice, then ignorance.

And it was really a bizarre -- and at one human level, it really bothered me, and that was you've got 100 Caucasian faces in the room and there's one non-Caucasian there. And he singles him out. I mean, it was a bullying tactic; it was not appealing human way of treating somebody else.

He tried to isolate and humiliate another person, and especially a younger person who obviously didn't have the same resources of confidence and stature that Allen did.

MARGARET WARNER: And it's -- well, go ahead, Ramesh.

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I mean, you know, George Allen wants to position himself as the Reaganite candidate in the 2008 race. Reagan would never have done anything like that.

MARK SHIELDS: That's absolutely true...

...MARGARET WARNER: Now, there were some defenders of Allen who noted, as you did, that other senators have made remarks about Indian-Americans, about African-Americans, but that southerners are held to a different standard. Do you think that's the case?

RAMESH PONNURU: Southerners are held to a different standard. Republicans are held to a different standard. Presidential candidates are held to a different standard. I mean, so what? I mean, George Allen ought to know these things if he, you know, wants to be the kind of public leader that he's trying to be.

MARGARET WARNER: Do you think southerners are held to a different standard?

MARK SHIELDS: Probably so, I mean, especially a southerner like George Allen, who, as Trent Lott made the terrible mistake of saying at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday the country would have been better off if, in 1948, as an arch-segregationist for segregation of the races, that Strom Thurmond had won the presidency.

And George Allen initially defended him, then turned on him. And his sister reports in the book she wrote of the family -- not a particularly flattering portrait -- that he was addicted to all sorts of -- even though he grew up in southern California, all sorts of Confederate memorabilia, and pins, and in his lapel, and all the rest of it. So there were questions already raised...

MARGARET WARNER: It's not just that he's a southerner, you're saying? There's a history there.

MARK SHIELDS: So I think Tom Rath, the respected Republican operative in New Hampshire, said, "It is not a way you want to be introduced to the national political stage."

Thanks PBS!

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