CAPTURE THE FLAG. Ryan Lizza's just posted a devastating follow-up to his TNR cover story on Virginia Senator and likely presidential contender George Allen. The take-home: Allen's love affair with the slave-holding past was no youthful affectation. Writes Lizza:

Images of Allen are like a Civil War version of Where's Waldo, with the Confederate flag replacing the bespectacled cartoon character. First, as The New Republic reported last week, there's the senior class photo from Palos Verdes High School with Allen wearing a Confederate flag pin ("Pin Prick," May 8). Now we learn that the Confederate flag appears as a decoration in Allen's first statewide ad, even though he has long maintained that the flag did not adorn his home after 1992.

Some conservatives have recently argued that the revelations about Allen's high school photo are irrelevant because the picture is so old. "[I]f we're going to scrutinize people's high school records as we vet them for public office, nobody gets to run," columnist Kathleen Parker wrote last week. But, as revealed by the 1993 campaign ad--as well as the accounts of Allen associates now stepping forward--his embrace of the Confederate flag is even more extensive than TNR previously reported. According to his colleagues, classmates, and published reports, Allen has either displayed the flag--on himself, his car, inside his home--or expressed his enthusiastic approval of the emblem from approximately 1967 to 2000.

This love affair with Dixie may strengthen Allen in the Republican primaries, but will completely backfire should he win. Even if he gets out of those contests alive, Allen will likely have been transformed by his Republican colleagues into the 2008 version of Pat Buchanan -- a figure guaranteed to terrify and mobilize the Democratic base. Somewhere, Hillary is smiling.

--Garance Franke-Ruta

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