Thursday, September 28, 2006

Another Good Side of Senator Allen

My column for the week, published Thursday in the Potomac News, Titled "Another Side of George Allen". Some excerpts:

It's been quite a month for Sen. George Allen, looking to represent Virginia for another six years. While he's tried to discuss a comprehensive Energy Strategy and his National Innovation Act education plan, he has been beset by a barrage of negative attacks driven by his opponents.

Thus I start my piece about the backstory of Allen discovering his Jewish heritage -- that he passed up a golden opportunity to stop macaca in it's tracks, neutralize the Webb bloggers whisper campaign about his "shame" about his heritage, and possibly wrap up the election before it even began.

This past month Allen discovered his Jewish heritage -- a secret that his mother kept from him, her family, and the world for her entire married life. But the story of how that secret came to light provides a more revealing view of Allen than the secret itself.

I never really dealt with this in my blog when it happened, although I touched on the Washington Post story in a post about the Webb Campaign Treasurer Ingred Malloy promoting an article claiming Allen's grandfather was a Nazi Collaborator.

Etty Allen's father, Felix Lumbroso, was imprisoned by the Nazis during WWII. She says, "What they put my father through. I always was fearful." Her family moved to America, where she met and married George Allen. They decided to keep her former religion a secret -- "He didn't want me to tell his mother. At that time, that was a no-no, to marry outside the church."

They lived their lives, raised a family, and never found a good time to "come clean." Those who have lived with family secrets know the problem isn't the secret, it's explaining why you kept it for so long.

I mentioned this over at NotLarrySabato, and they laughed at me for being too sensitive.

With Allen a public figure, her secret was in danger. People, especially Allen's political enemies, were digging around in her past, trying to find dirt to throw around. This summer rumors were circulated on left-wing web pages about Allen's "Jewish" past, and how they could use it against him. Webb staffers suggested he was ashamed of being Jewish, and his supporters wouldn't like it. In truth, his mother told him she was raised Christian, and he believed her.

That's about as partisan as I got in the article.

Here's what I meant about sealing the election:

But I said this was about Allen, not about his mother being "outed" by the left in their attempts to discredit her son. See, August was when the "macaca" story was raging. You would think Allen would do anything to change the subject. What better way than a press conference announcing he just found out he had a Jewish heritage, and was proud of it? The questions about him "hiding" it would be answered, and "macaca" would be history.

But Allen didn't do that. A simple political act that would likely seal the election for him, and he refused. Why? Because his mother asked him to keep her private life private. Instead of telling the world, he kept quiet as the rumors and attacks continued.

Because of that, he endured three more weeks of attacks on his character. He knew he had a Jewish heritage, and people who were professed Jews were calling him an anti-semite, and claiming he was ashamed of his heritage, afraid of his supporters, a self-loathing Jew. And he silently endured those attacks, for the sake of his mother.

His mother couldn't take it anymore, and released him from his promise. He acknowledged and embraced his heritage. And proved both that he is not anti-Semitic, and that he values family, trust, and keeping his word more than his own political career. And that is the kind of man I want as my Senator.

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