- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

And now we bring you another manufactured controversy in the Virginia Senate race: Whether Republican Sen. George Allen’s grandfather Felix Lumbroso was Jewish. This one is courtesy of WUSA-Channel 9 reporter Peggy Fox, who apparently thought the Senate race best known for its incisive “macaca” analysis is too policy-deep. This is a travesty of irrelevance.

The Virginia race has featured far too much extraneity and mud-slinging and far too little substance. But there was Mrs. Fox on Monday, wasting precious debate time at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce matchup between Mr. Allen and Democratic challenger Jim Webb. This time would have been much better spent on Iraq, terrorism, the economy, taxes, health care, immigration or any other issue of substance.

Mr. Allen reacted with the appropriate mixture of anger and bewilderment: “I was raised as a Christian and my mother was raised as a Christian. And I embrace and take great pride in every aspect of my diverse heritage, including my Lumbroso family line’s Jewish heritage.” He asked why, in a free country like the United States, the question of his ancestry should even matter. It shouldn’t.

Mrs. Fox — and the news media generally — should be trying to elevate this Senate race with questions of real substance. But like most of the rest of the media, Mrs. Fox punted. The Washington Post is especially guilty on this count, having spent five weeks obsessively hyping the “macaca” story. The taint lingers. Even now, when Mr. Allen is answering questions about his grandfather, The Post places the news under a mocking headline: “Allen Says He Embraces Jewish Ancestry,” its headline read yesterday.

The Webb campaign also has questions to answer, beginning with its strange periodical use of “George Felix Allen Jr.” to describe the Republican senator. No one except the Webb campaign speaks of the senator with this middle-name-inclusive appelation. For starters, it’s erroneous. Mr. Allen’s father, the famed Washington Redskins coach, was named George Herbert Allen. So George Allen is no Jr.

Why does the Webb camp refer to Mr. Allen as such? Mr. Webb needs to demonstrate that they were not trying to telegraph intimations of Felix Lumbroso to voters. Otherwise they risk another anti-Semitism controversy reminiscent of their regrettable Harris Miller-as-moneygrubber cartoon flap during primary season.

The remaining weeks of this race have made a mockery of the notion that Senate races should be occasions to debate the substantive national issues. Instead, we get weeks of “macaca” and questions about a candidate’s heritage and religion. Get to the real issues and give Viriginia voters a real idea of the differences between the candidates.

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