Tuesday, September 26, 2006

From Michael Scherer's Salon article about the alleged youthful racial indiscretions of Senator George Allen, a man who is threatening to go from up-and-coming star item to whatever-happened-to in less time than any public figure since Yahoo Serious, comes this tender anecdote from Allen's college football teammate, Dr. Ken Shelton:

Shelton said he also remembers a disturbing deer hunting trip with Allen on land that was owned by the family of Billy Lanahan, a wide receiver on the team. After they had killed a deer, Shelton said he remembers Allen asking Lanahan where the local black residents lived. Shelton said Allen then drove the three of them to that neighborhood with the severed head of the deer. "He proceeded to take the doe's head and stuff it into a mailbox," Shelton said.

It's become clear these last few years that one thing that makes so many members of the press corps susceptible to the golden glow associated with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al., is that the soft-bottomed leading men of the cable news lineup think these guys represent a tough, manly ideal that they themselves can only hope to someday live up to by talking like Dirty Harry and not asking a lot of embarrassing questions. The depth of the TV anchors' collective penis envy, and just how insecure they feel about trying to measure up to President Tarzan and company, came through loud and clear in the coverage of that fateful weekend when Vice-President Cheney went out hunting canned birds and bagged himself a man. His friends in the media were soon all over the airwaves explaining that, though they themselves were too wussified to have ever obliterated a quail herded into their line of fire for their pleasure, they'd been speaking to some experts the Vice-President's office had provided, and apparently it's standard, manly practice to reel around the countryside blasting your shotgun while four sheets to the wind, and it's understood by all that it's the responsibility of any people in the vicinity to dive for cover, rather than it being thought the shooter's job to be careful not to shoot at close range any living creature with a driver's license and the ability to hire a lawyer.

I don't want to go through that again. So just let me say, before things get out of hand, that I grew up in the country; that, before I knelt at the feet of the Dahli Lama and learned enlightenment, I was known to tag along on the occasional hunt; and that, contrary to what you may soon hear from Chris Matthews or Tim Russert, stuffing a deer's head in a stranger's mailbox is not a common custom by which Southern boys show their respect and affection for black folks by saying, in effect, "Y'all sure do got a big roomy mailbox." I believe that, whatever their color or creed, most people in Virginia, or maybe even elsewhere, would be quite put out to discover a dead animal's head in their mailbox, especially if there was blood all over their Victoria's Secret catalogs. The only hope for Allen on this one is if he can prove that he was spending the summer interning as the Corleone family's regional representative, and the business with the deer head was part of his negotiating strategy after the black family in question refused to give Johnny Fontane the part he wanted in that new war picture they were about to start shooting.

Incidentally, Dr. Shelton also claims that he had to go through his college career being addressed as "Wizard", because, he says, Allen stuck him with that nickname after noting that he shared a last name with Robert Shelton, then Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. This is the kind of thing that you either dismiss out of hand because it seems strange to you that an average college football player would actually know the name of the Grand Wizard of the KKK, let alone have it on the tip of his tongue, or else you instantly decide that the story is credible because, given how unlikely it is, who would make it up? I myself fall into the latter camp, partly because it rings a bell after the whole "macaca" incident. I know, Allen claims that he had no idea that "macaca" was an obscure racial slur when he used it, but he's failed to give a halfway plausible explanation for what the hell else he could have been thinking when he said it, despite having managed to think up a half a dozen wildly implausible explanations. It just seems to compute that the kind of guy who'd know who Robert Shelton was at that tender age would dream of someday impressing the great man himself with the exotic freshness of his racial epithets. I don't know what's to be done with George, but he does have a way with words. Maybe the Washington Times editorial page is hiring.

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