For Democrats and Republicans, equal opportunity foot-in-mouth disease

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Two veteran politicians, one from each party, are victims of their own mouths. Both should know better.

Sen. George Allen, Republican of Virginia and a conservative with presidential ambition, was the most remarkable example of being plain dumb. In a campaign for re-election in the Old Dominion, he ridiculed a young man of Indian descent in a crowd of whites.

S.R. Sidarth was filming Allen for use by Democrat Jim Webb, who is opposing Allen in November. Allen welcomed him to America and Virginia amid much laughter from the audience. While the senator was raised in Los Angeles, the photographer was born, raised, and schooled in Virginia. Singling him out was wrong and a disgrace to boot.

Allen has a tin ear. He stumbled all over himself to explain the gaffe, but the damage lingers. While he may win re-election, his presidential dreams are over. Copies of that film show he's not ready for prime time-or any time for that matter.

The Democrat is Andrew Young, who, as a former mayor of Atlanta, U.N. ambassador, and member of Congress, must have some senility creeping in at age 74.

As a paid employee of the retail giant Wal-Mart, Young took an improper shot at the pricing practices of minority owners of mom and pop stores that are in competition with Wal-Mart. As an African-American, what was Young possibly thinking?

He promptly resigned and was admonished in a tough statement from the company.

Young's fall from grace is astonishing. Unlike Allen, who is no mental giant, Young has the long experience and a record of accomplishment in public service. He has the savvy to avoid blunders like this one.

Young's career deserves a more proper ending, but he has only himself to blame.

Allen and Young are examples of politicians who talk before they think and pay the price.