Language is a living thing. It lives, breathes and changing over time. Three years ago, the word "swift boat" was singularly used as noun, as in, a small, quick draft water vessel. Today, through popular culture, the term is a verb like, "John Kerry was swiftboated in the 2004 election". To be swiftboated is entirely something else. It's a shameless attack on one's character perpetrated with lies and innuendo. George Allen: You've been swiftboated. Kind of.
Payback is a bitch, as they say. In Allen's case, the chorus of former colleagues from the distant past who are alleging the Virginia governor's use of the word nigger, are probably rooted in the truth. But, does that matter? Isn't this the type of division President Bush likes to employ on the electorate?
A few classmates and former teammates from the University of Viriginia said that a youthful Allen used the racial epitapth regularly in normal conversation. One even claimed that Allen said when referring to the some sea turtles, around here the only one's that "eat 'em" are niggers.
The difference in the swiftboating of Kerry and the apparently hatchet job on Allen is that the Southern governor's past leads directly to these sorts of accusation. In the Salon piece by Michael Scherer, a former high school classmate in Los Angeles recalled that Allen wore a confederate pin on his lapel for his yearbook photo. The source saw the use of the rebel pin as a "middle finger" to the blacks kids in the school.
At first glance, this story is undeniably debilatating to Allen's Senate campaign, but not necessarily to his apparent national aspirations. If Allen is indeed the Republican to succeed President Bush's constintuency, then this sort of division between liberals and far-right conversatives and more precisely, the South versus the North, should work to his advantage.
Living in one of the bluest counties in the bluest of blue states surely clouds one's grasp of the differences between the unique regions of this country. That a politician uses the word nigger so freely is quite endearing to some in the reddest of red Southern states. It might be noted that, at this point, pundits are not saying his race against Jim Webb is toast. In addition, if Allen runs for the GOP nomination this sort of bad press will be more than a year old. That's not to say that something as treacherous as the foggy memory of whether Allen said the N-word thirty years won't continue to bite the heels of his campaign on a daily basis.
Remember, reporters on the Little Rock capital beat heard rumblings of then-governor Bill Clinton's dalliances with women, before the bombshell of Gennifer Flowers exploded nationally.
This story won't hurt Allen that badly. Think about it. He's a gun-toting, nigger-saying, dumb redneck who claims to love Jesus. The Democrats haven't figured out how to beat a Republican with that profile, who's to say they will now?