By Betsy Rothstein - 09/07/06 12:00 AM EDT
Earlier this month, Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), left, referred to a voter of Indian descent as “Macaca,” while Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) drew criticism for referring to his house painter as “a nice little Guatemalan man” and told a story of how he asked to see his green card.
Michael Goldman, political science professor, Tufts University; radio personality, Bloomberg Radio:
“Who in Montana or Virginia is Mexican or Arab? It’s perfect. That’s what they were thinking. I understand they finally figured out what “Macaca” means in Arabic. It means lose your 20-point lead.”
Jack Quinn, president, Cassidy & Associates:
“They weren’t thinking. Clearly, that’s the problem. Hope they don’t get mad at me but that’s as honest as I can be. Everybody’s got to understand in campaign season almost everything you say makes it way into print these days.”
Jonathan Grella, vice president of Public Affairs, Edelman Public Relations; former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas):
“We’ve traded free-wheeling authenticity for around-the-clock accountability. It used to be that a successful pol knew how to fix the literal potholes. Now one must know how to avoid the figurative ones.
GOP House press secretary:
“Someone didn’t flip their stupid switch on. I’m looking at racial insensitivity, party of two please.”
Democratic Senate press secretary:
“Allen and Burns have clearly grown tired of the P.C. world we live in and were obviously field testing a new message strategy developed by the RNC: secure the base by insulting everyone else. Diversity be damned! Democrats across the country applaud their courage and urge them to please continue.”
Jessica Cutler, a.k.a. Washingtonienne; a former aide to Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio):
“It could be that George Allen is so NOT racist, that it didn’t even occur to him that ‘Macaca’ was a racial slur, albeit one that most people have never heard before. I’m not defending his ignorance, but it just goes to show how out of it most people on the Hill really are. As for Conrad Burns, what a condescending [expletive]. Again, another case of an elected official who is totally out of it. And these two are totally blowing up the spot for proponents of anti-immigration legislation. If it wasn’t already an obviously racist movement before, it is now.”
Rick Fiori, political satirist:
“Hearing Senator George Allen make a racist comment is just like seeing a Bush twin drunk — it lets me know that everything is as it should be in America and very little has changed. I think Allen was auditioning for Survivor: Cooks Island, where teams are divided by race. And as much fun as it would be to watch Morons battle Macacas, I would rather tune in to The NBC Today show and watch Ann Curry try and act happy that Meredith Vieira got Katie Couric’s job and Ann didn’t. Everyone, stop praying for Mel Gibson’s recovery — reroute your prayers to George Allen.”
Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, former White House aide and former “Apprentice” star:
“Here is a guy [Burns] who voted against amnesty. For him to mock him is very irresponsible to a very serious issue. I actually went on YouTube and watched [Allen]. Unfortunately it raises a question about his judgment.”
David Magleby, Dean of College of Family, Home and Social Sciences; political science professor, Brigham Young University:
“There is really no excuse and no way out of the fact that they committed major mistakes. He [Burns] is a lexicon of misstatements. Allen’s statement was stupid. If you want to be generous, attribute Allen’s statement to a sports metaphor, which is trash talk.”
To recommend an idea for “What were they thinking?” please contact Capital Living by phoning Betsy Rothstein at 202-628-8516 or send an e-mail to Betsyr@thehill.com.