The outcome of this primary fight will have national implications. The most obvious pertain to 2008. If Allen is forced to spend this fall defending his seat or ends up losing, his Republican presidential bid may be derailed. By contrast, a Democratic Senate pickup in Virginia would aid the presidential aspirations of former Gov. Mark Warner, who has held fundraisers for both men. While a Rassmussen poll shows both Webb and Miller trailing Allen badly, a Zogby survey has Webb down by just 7 points—and Allen below the critical 50-percent incumbents’ threshold.
The New Republic article about Allen a few weeks back, once you get past Ryan Lizza's silly obsession with the Confederate Battle Flag and race, is an interesting character study. One of the details that stood out to me was that when his father left the Los Angeles Rams in 1971 to go to the Washington Redskins, Allen transferred from UCLA to the University of Virginia. Its probably what I would have done, but then I don't put on Allen's tough guy schtick. The biographies of the two men present a startling contrast. Lizza notes that when Allen went to UVA that he was,
like a pig in slop. Even at Virginia's own state school, Allen stood out for his showy brand of good ol' boyness. Under the headline "allen and country living," a 1973 profile in the school paper noted his penchant for country music had earned him the campus nickname of "Neck." He drove a pickup truck (paid for by the Redskins). He wore cowboy boots. He supported Richard Nixon and the war in Vietnam. He once shot a squirrel on campus, skinned it, ate it, and hung its pelt on his wall.
If this sounds like a privileged, rich kid's idea of being a "good ol' boy" that's because it is exactly what it is. Contrast Allen's sideline support for Nixon and the Vietnam War with Webb's record of being a heavily decorated veteran of the war that Allen was content to cheerlead for. Biography alone isn't enough, but Webb's bio is about 1000 per cent better than John Kerry's. Webb has issues as well, particularly the Iraq quagmire which he opposed back when Kerry and most other Democratic politicians were afraid to do so.
Antle notes that Webb has been wearing the combat boots of his son, an Iraq bound Marine. Glenn Reynolds, who has frequently recommended Webb's book, Born Fighting : How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, called wearing the boots a "gimmick reminiscent of 'John Kerry, reporting for duty.'"
Here's a prediction: Reynolds, who is less and less distinguishable from Hugh Hewitt; will, if the Virginia race is close, join with the yet to be formed "Naval Academy Grads for Truth" in calling for Webb to release all of his military records to prove if he really "earned" that Navy Cross.