- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 28, 2006

Virginia U.S. Senate candidate James H. Webb Jr. said yesterday that incumbent Sen. George Allen crossed the line when he used salacious excerpts from his wartime novels to question his character and respect for women.

“I’ve lived in the real world, and I reported the real world in my writings,” Mr. Webb, a Democrat, told about 300 people at the Edgar Allan Poe Middle School in Annandale.

His remarks came after the campaign of Mr. Allen, a Republican, issued a press release Thursday highlighting the excerpts, which include apparent father-son incest, an acrobatic young stripper and the homosexual behavior of prison guards in Vietnam.

The Allen camp said the novels portrays women as “servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted or some combination of these.”

Mr. Webb, joined yesterday by fellow Democrats Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and former Gov. Mark Warner, responded by reading reviews that praised his novels as masterpieces and described him as “a moral philosopher of the military … when fiction seems to find it harder and harder to address moral issues.”

“I have written what I have seen, and that is the duty of a writer — to help people understand the world around us with all of its beauty and all of its flaws,” said Mr. Webb, a Vietnam veteran and former U.S. Navy secretary.

Chris LaCivita, an Allen campaign spokesman, said Mr. Webb’s response showed he was becoming “unhinged.”

“George Allen’s record as governor and U.S. senator has been an open book for years,” he said. “Now that Jim Webb’s books have been opened, he can’t take any scrutiny.”

The Allen campaign’s decision to introduce the excerpts, in a close race that will be decided Nov. 7, angered Democrats and disappointed at least one Republican.

“It’s so dirty,” Michelle Malkin, a conservative columnist, said on Fox News. “It looks desperate. It looks pathetic, and it looks so immature. … This is fiction.”

However, others saw the excerpts as further proof that Mr. Webb does not respect women.

“Sadly, the degrading manner in which women are depicted in his novels fits a larger pattern that is evident in his nonfiction writings as well,” said state Delegate M. Kirkland Cox, Colonial Heights Republican.

This is the latest salvo in a race muddied with character attacks. Mr. Allen’s 20-plus years of public service and Mr. Webb’s push for economic fairness and opposition to the Iraq war have often been lost amid the attacks.

The race started devolving in August when Mr. Allen was videotaped calling an Indian-American volunteer for the Webb campaign “macaca.” He also faced accusations he used the “N-word” in the 1970s and stumbled over questions about his Jewish heritage.

Mr. Webb yesterday said he could have used the situations against Mr. Allen, but has chosen not to because they are “not relevant to what I’m trying to do.”

Mr. Webb has faced criticism for an article he wrote in 1977 that questioned a woman’s place at the U.S. Naval Academy.

It appeared Mr. Allen would refocus his campaign on his record when he pledged in a rare statewide address Oct. 2 to spend the final five weeks of the campaign talking about the issues that matter most to voters.

“The Allen campaign has made smear tactics the centerpiece of their entire effort,” Mr. Webb said. “If you want to find accountability for this, remember that the fish rots from the head down.”

Mr. Webb yesterday also used the weekly Democratic radio address to criticize President Bush and his supporters, such as Mr. Allen, for what he regards as botching the Iraq war. “With the right leadership, the situation in Iraq is solvable, in a way that will increase stability in the Middle East and reduce the threat of international terrorism,” he said.

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