Webb/Allen: No, He's a Racist!

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 28, 2006 9:34 AM

A guy who describes himself as an old friend of Jim Webb's now says he heard Webb use the n-word in his presence. The friend is also a Republican and says he will vote for Allen, and it sounds as if the Allen campaign directed reporters to Cragg (Isn't it funny how the Post makes that very explicit when we're dealing with accusations about a Democrat?). Cragg's coming forward is apparently a response to Webb's denial that he ever used the word.

Yes, I know this is a dumb game, but I feel like once you start with this you can't stop at airing one side. Here's the gist:

Cragg, a former Army sergeant major, described himself as a longtime friend of Webb's who worked for him when he was assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan. Cragg said he approached the Allen campaign through a friend after hearing Webb's answer to the Times-Dispatch reporter's question about using the N-word.

"The fact is he has. He used it in my presence," Cragg said. "I don't think he's a racist any more than George Allen is. But he's not frank in admitting that he grew up in a culture where that was common and he used it."

Cragg also relates a story Webb allegedly told him about driving down to black neighborhoods and scaring the residents by brandishing a rifle. Since Cragg wasn't there for the event, and it sounds as conveniently, quintessentially racist as the doe-head-in-the-mailbox story, I'm gonna give Webb the same benefit of the doubt I gave Allen.

Also, did you hear that there was a doe-head-in-the-mailbox story in North Carolina, where Ken Shelton lives, just a couple months before he made the allegations about Allen pulling the same stunt? I don't want to get all "Loose Change" on you, but it's interesting. For those of you who are not from the South, Severed Doe Head Mailbox Placement is not a common pastime.

And, for the record, I think it's altogether possible-- even probable-- that both men used the n-word in the 70s, as an epithet, and that neither one is racist now. I know it sounds crazy, but we could judge them on their conduct since their stupid college days. In both cases, it largely commends them.

Also, I hadn't noticed before, but that 5-point poll lead I mentioned for Allen is a two-point uptick for him in the last two weeks. Is that evidence of the backfiring I mentioned earlier today? Judging from my own attitudes, I was down on Allen as a candidate after he sorta flubbed the Macaca thing, but now I'm feeling kind of energized to help the guy out, since this has devolved into such a stupid, racist witch-hunt. Do others feel the way I do?