Allen emerged from a tough neighborhood in Washington, D.C., to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and then Duke Law School. He joined a "mostly white and liberal" fraternity, according to the Times, where he was adored -- despite the fact that he didn't drink, a major demerit at a fraternity -- for his ability to get along with anyone. One fraternity brother told the Times that Allen was "always thoughtful and respectful of different opinions" -- a trait that would come in handy for a black teetotaler living in a UNC frat house.
He became a born-again Christian at college and -- the obvious next step -- a Republican after college. These acts are known in the liberal rulebook as "strike two" and "strike three," respectively. He explained leaving the party of his birth to become a Republican with eloquence: "I realized after the fact that I agree more with the Republican Party platform, that it talked about independence, that it talked about individual responsibility, individual rights, it talked about the ability to guarantee opportunities, not outcomes," adding, "that was very much what my family stood for."
He is married with four children, all of whom he home-schools. (Is there such a thing as strike four?) So he was already the moral equivalent to a Ku Klux Klanner in liberal eyes. Wait, no, if he were a former Klanner, he'd be the Democratic senator from West Virginia. Let me rephrase that: He was already a meat-eating, God-fearing, patriotic American in liberal eyes.
Allen also worked for the sainted Jesse Helms, former senator from North Carolina. By now, the average liberal would need yoga and a Barbra Streisand album to calm down. After Helms' 1984 Democratic opponent, James B. Hunt Jr., ran a TV commercial saying Helms was backed by "right-wing nuts," Allen reacted by saying that if the Helms campaign was run by similar guttersnipes, they could say Hunt was backed by "queers."
This week at the New York Times, it was revenge of the queers. I'm sorry it took a tough period in Allen's life for the New York Times to feature him under a banner headline on its front page, but all in all, I'm glad to finally know about Claude Allen. I'm proud to have this great fellow sinner in our party.
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