- The Washington Times - Friday, October 27, 2006

George Allen is an opportunistic philistine.

What other conclusion to draw from the senator’s outrageous cherry-picking of “underage sex scenes” in his opponent James Webb’s novels?

Just imagine the “war room” scenario: of campaign underlings combing Webb’s books for naughty bits; of the “gotcha” smiles that lit up said underlings’ faces as they informed their boss they had yet more ammo with which to outflank Webb from the left.

At first, Allen’s aggressive push to peel off women from Webb’s base of support — which began with the unearthing of an article Webb had written that was argued (perfectly justifiably) against allowing women in combat — was tolerable in a certain tactical sense.

This latest salvo would be silly, if it weren’t so demeaning — not to women, as Allen would very much like us to believe of Webb’s fiction writing, but rather to the basic idea of narrative art.

This is an even cruder variation of the literal-minded smear that attached to Vladimir Nabokov after he published his brilliant “Lolita.” Some readers refused to accept that someone who wrote in a fictional context about pedophilia did not approve of pedophilia — or, worse, was a pedophile himself.

If, today, anyone is scandalized by what Webb wrote, that’s their right — and their folly.

Earlier this week I floated the scenario that if he wins Nov. 7, Allen might come out of the race an even stronger, steelier contender for the 2008 presidential nomination. This may or may not eventually prove true.

What I know for sure is that is I can’t now vote for Allen in good conscience.

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