Senator Allen's foot-in-mouth disease

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That Sen. George Allen–he just can't do enough to alienate various ethnic and religious constituencies, can he? I mean, if you sat there and tried to dream up ways to offend Jews, who prior to this week really didn't pay much attention to Allen or to his religious background, you could not have produced a more complete shellacking.

His ancestry became an issue in his quickly imploding bid for re-election as a Virginia Republican when Allen was asked about his Jewish heritage during a debate with his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb. Allen nastily chided the reporter who posed the question and dismissed it as irrelevant.

"My mother is French-Italian with a little Spanish blood in her," Allen told the panelist. He said he had been raised as a Christian and made no mention of any Jewish heritage. On Tuesday, Allen acknowledged his Jewish ancestry publicly for the first time, in a statement his campaign issued. In fact, the reporter who posed the question, Peggy Fox, noted that Allen's mother was not only Jewish but from Tunisia (where French is spoken). She asked whether he might have begun using the word "macaca" after learning it from his mother. "Macaca" is a racial slur often used by French-speaking people to mean "monkey." Allen's implosion began when he was caught on videotape calling an American of Indian descent "macaca" in front of an audience of small-town Virginians on a campaign stop.

So, Allen first makes a racial slur, then gets mad during the debate with Webb and accuses his questioner of casting "aspersions." Then he does a 180 and the next day issues a statement saying he takes "great pride" in his Jewish heritage. Later, he states in an interview: "I still had a ham sandwich for lunch. And my mother made great pork chops." Jews who keep kosher don't eat pork.

Shouldn't there be a limit, of say, one per week, for major campaign gaffes? Whatever it is, the junior senator from Virginia has stretched the limit beyond recognition.