By now, the piling on should not be a surprise. But the Washington Post put "Macaca" on the front page for the fourth time today (the last time? wouldn't bet on it), this time for Allen's personal apology to S.R. "I Love Noam Chomsky" Sidarth, fresh from his appearance on kooky-left Pacifica's "Democracy Now" radio show. After all that, it's funny to see the Post reporters Michael Shear and Tim Craig put "leftist" in quotes when Allen campaign manager Dick Wadhams talks about Jim Webb's "leftist" allies. As if Webb's feisty pals on lefty blogs don't fit the word. (Not to mention the quotes around "feeding frenzy" to describe the Post reporting.) Shear and Craig began:
Virginia Sen. George Allen apologized directly to S.R. Sidarth yesterday, telling the 20-year-old Democratic campaign staffer that he was sorry for offending him with remarks that have generated nationwide criticism for being racially insensitive....
The call followed a series of public mea culpas , including one heard across the country Tuesday on a conservative radio talk show hosted by commentator Sean Hannity.
It's nice that Shear and Craig don't put Hannity's "conservative" credentials in quotes, as if they were in dispute. The reporters continued to try digging Allen a political grave:
The senator had issued a public apology and had said he was sorry at other recent events. Political observers said Allen appears to be trying to put the controversy behind him with more fervent expressions of regret.
But even as he did so, about 50 Democratic activists protested outside a Fairfax County fundraiser for Allen headlined by President Bush. As Bush arrived in Virginia last night, Democrats waved signs that included phrases such as "Hey, George, macaca is a bad word." About the same number of Allen supporters offered signs saying "We love George. We support you."
Then it gets funnier when it's time for the pundit analysis:
Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report, said the Allen campaign is pursuing a two-pronged strategy aimed at convincing some voters that Allen is sorry while motivating his base with attacks against liberals and the media.
"They need a better foil," Cook said. "They need to shift this into 'We're the persecuted.' It was a very, very calculated move."
As if the Washington Post isn't telegraphing a set of very, very calculated moves blowing this story way beyond its actual merit. Then they turn to poor persecuted Sidarth:
"I still have some questions about why it took so long, but, yes, he did the right thing," Sidarth said. Asked whether he thought the apology was sincere, Sidarth declined to comment.
Perhaps a more appropriate sentence would be: "Asked if he's been doing a Democratic happy dance for the last week and a half, loving every minute of his liberal-media fame, Sidarth declined to comment."