Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thanks, George Allen!

To regain his Senate campaign's momentum, George Allen has questioned Jim Webb's fitness to be Senator by raising an article Webb wrote for the Washingtonian magazine in 1979 opposing women in combat.

This is, of course, not a new story; it surfaced and was debated extensively during the Senate primary earlier this year.

I'm not interested in discussing the merits or defects in Webb's argument, but in the way this issue was raised and is being used, and the wonderful effect it has on the public debate (and the small patch over which I have the honor to preside).

People should be held accountable for what they write and the positions they take, certainly; but they should also enjoy the benefit of context. As I've said before, I know I can never survive a Senate confirmation hearing because too much of what I write can easily be taken out of context or spun.

Does an aspiring political figure want to be daring, provocative, though-provoking in essays? Why take the risk if twenty-five years later it comes back to haunt you?

Anything you say can and will be used against you.
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