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Foot-Long Hot Dog in Mouth Disease | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Foot-Long Hot Dog in Mouth Disease

Even by dysfunctional family reunion standards, last week's UN Summit was a blowout. There were the Presidents of Iran and the United States avoiding each other like estranged cousins, the President of Venezuela calling Bush the devil, and the Prime Minister of Thailand discovering he had been deposed back home.

The only reunion that could rival this for pyrotechnics was the one between Senator Allen and his mother, Etty Lumbroso, when she told him she was, in fact, Jewish. After the revelation, she cried, "Now you don't love me anymore"--and swore him to silence.

What could have been a powerful opportunity for Allen to bury the Macaca-inspired questions about his sensitivity was instead blown by his handling of the revelation. Specifically: his insistence that, quote, "I was raised as a Christian and my mother was raised as a Christian," even after he knew this wasn't the case; his (faux) outraged "making aspersions" response when asked by a TV reporter at a debate about his heritage, as if the reporter was Torquemada; and his awkward stereotypical quips: "I still had a ham sandwich for lunch. And my mother made great pork chops."

Now Allen faces accusations from three college football teammates that he was a racist, who was overly fond of the "N" word and placed a severed deer head in an African-American family's mailbox, supposedly inspired by the famous horse-head scene in the then just-released first Godfather movie.

The senator, who a few months ago was a shoo-in for reelection and a front runner for the Republican presidential nomination, is discovering with each misstep that the public just doesn't love him anymore. Maybe he should stick to silence.

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