Bloggers parse Sen. George Allen's response to questions about his Jewish heritage. They also lash Jacques Chirac for his stance on Iran, and laugh at the new Tickle Me Elmo's expense.
George Allen, oy vey: During a debate on Monday with Democratic Senate candidate James Webb, Sen. George Allen issued a harsh rebuke to a panelist who asked Allen about his Jewish ancestry. The audience booed the question and Allen urged the journalist to "ask questions about issues that really matter to people here in Virginia" and refrain from "making aspersions." Bloggers debate whether the incident will revive Allen's bruised candidacy.
Conservative Dean Barnett, at Hugh Hewitt's blog, calls the incident a "huge break" for Allen and a missed opportunity for Webb: "Webb should have jumped on the questioner with the same vigor that Allen did. … His failure to do so highlights the lack of political instincts that mark him as the neophyte in this race. It also suggests he wasn't repulsed by the question. That, too, is disturbing."
Some bloggers are baffled at Allen's reaction. Virginia-based Web designer Waldo Jaquith is surprised by the senator's surprise: "If Sen. Allen has a track record of being a strong advocate of keeping religion out of politics, it's news to me. If he's ever reacted angrily when asked about Christianity, I have never heard about it." Wonkette claims to be disturbed "on so many levels" by the senator's sanctimony: "George Allen — whose mother was, yes, of the prosperous and well-known Jewish Lumbroso family — clearly so shocked — shocked! — at the question that he can't bring himself to just fucking say 'yes, my mom was a Jew, that's why I bring up the fact that my grandfather was in a fucking concentration camp.' No, instead he suddenly (and temporarily, one presumes) becomes a First Amendment absolutist."
Virginia Centrist does a little textual analysis, defining "aspersion" as "a damaging or derogatory remark or criticism": "In George Allen's mind, asking someone if they're Jewish is the lowest of insults. …Once again, Allen has unwittingly shown himself for what he is: a relic of the formerly racist South."
An Allen campaign staffer live-blogged the event, reporting that Sen. Allen was "clearly upset at the religious McCarthyism."
Another French surrender?: French President Jacques Chirac hinted on Monday that Iran would not have to cease uranium enrichment before entering negotiations over its nuclear program, and he denounced the use of sanctions. Freezing enrichment had so far been a precondition for talks with the five U.N. Security Council members and Germany. Conservative bloggers perceive cracks in the alliance.
Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters thinks the enrichment disagreement is less important than Chirac's opposition to sanctions: "If Iran fails to comply, they know that the UN will huff and puff and perhaps issue a strongly-worded memo." Daniel Freedman at It Shines For All, the New York Sun's blog, argues this "shows the foolishness of trusting the U.N. -- with China, Russia, and France on the Security Council -- to stop the Iranian nuclear program. President Bush was betrayed by the French on Iraq, and now he's been betrayed on Iran. Quelle surprise."
Conservative FullosseousFlap pulls no punches with "feckless moron" Chirac: "Jacques is more afraid of his own Jihadis Muslim immigrants in France burning down Paris than an Iranian nuclear tipped missile detonating in Marseilles." Bryan at Michelle Malkin's video blog Hot Air figures France wants to keep Hezbollah from attacking its troops stationed in Lebanon. That gives Iran "an important wedge on the UNSC. That probably wasn't the outcome the Iranians hoped to achieve when Hezbollah kidnapped Israeli troops and started launching those Khaibar missiles. But for the Iranians, it's not a bad outcome. Not bad at all."
Read more about Chirac's new stance.
Extreme tickling: Fisher-Price has unveiled T.M.X. Elmo, or "Tickle Me Extreme," a 10th-anniversary update to the original Tickle Me Elmo doll. Prodding one of three "tickle spots" turns the docile toy into "the hysterically laughing, belly-clutching, floor-thumping Elmo."
Michelle Collins at VH1's Best Week Ever blog can't quite tell what Elmo is doing in this video: "[I]s it just us, or is Elmo… furiously pleasuring himself into a seizure while laughing maniacally? Seriously, is this some sort of raunchy Sesame Street scandal or what?"
Greg at fatherly blog Daddy Types isn't impressed: "Seeing such an underwhelming toy get so much hype--solely from adults, mind you--should make it crystal clear whose need TMX Elmo is designed to fill: the toy industry's and parents who have a grossly stunted imagination about their kids."
But what most annoys Carly at Going on 40 is "[t]hat laugh. That long, drawn out, nails on a chalk board, please kill me now because I'm in a childproofed household and I have no sharp object, laugh. … Hearing this toy 50 times a day would make Mother Theresa start swearing like an angry drunken sailor."
Read more about T.M.X. Elmo.