« No Way Out | Main | Foundations and Scrutiny »

A Tough Question for George Allen

All the attention in the Bolton hearings has focused on the "conscience caucus" of Voinovich, Chafee, Hagel and Murkowski, and on Lugar. But this is also a chance to see some other senators in action, like Norm Coleman of Minnesota and George Allen of Virginia, who has been identified by National Journal as the top pick for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Neither one of these characters rises to even the middle tier of mediocrity, but there's something fascinating about Allen: He does not speak English. I mean that almost literally, in that he does not construct sentences made up of commonplace English words. Rather, he speaks entirely in a patois constructed of football metaphors. Absolutely everything is second down or third down, or five yards or ten yards or a Hail Mary. If you were unfamiliar with the basic jargon of American football (as many people are), his every word would be incomprehensible. His official photo on his web site has him holding a football. Try going through a day using a football (or baseball or basketball) metaphor for every conversation, and you get a sense of what it would be like to be George Allen.

Now I know that his father, who had the same name, was a football coach, best known for letting Richard Nixon call a play for the Redskins, and for a management philosophy called "The future is now," sort of a prototype for the Bush tax policy. I sort of assumed that the Senator played or coached in the NFL himself, but I got curious about it today. Did he? No. He played a little bit at UVA, apparently. (Of course, I worked for a guy who had a couple of championship rings and was in the Hall of Fame, and you were allowed maybe, at most, one glancing basketball reference in a speech, preferably none.)

In the course of looking this up, I came across an interview with Allen for nfl.com that includes a question from one Adam Schefter so merciless and piercing that that this guy deserves a spot in the White House press corps:

Schefter: Is there any family as distinguished as yours?

(I noticed late in writing this that Dana Millbank has already covered the Allen football-ese in February.)

Posted by Mark Schmitt on May 13, 2005 | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341ce8a553ef00d834591b8b69e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Tough Question for George Allen:

» Being George Allen from Jack O'Toole
The Decembrist has made a rather fascinating discovery about Virginia Sen. George Allen -- the man doesn't speak English. I mean that almost literally, in that he does not construct sentences made up of commonplace English words. Rather, he speaks e... [Read More]

Tracked on May 13, 2005 3:09:15 PM

» A Tough Question for George Allen from Sports Views
Some good football trivia here:... [Read More]

Tracked on May 13, 2005 8:27:58 PM

» Please don't call him dumb from The Ethical Werewolf
Please don't do this again. We attack the dumb guy for being dumb, he out-good-ol'-boys us, we look like effete elitists, and we lose. We've been through a world of hurt trying this strategy before, and I don't want to see it again. [Read More]

Tracked on May 14, 2005 12:06:02 PM

» MP3 Download Archive. Find Your Favorite MP3s from MP3 Download, music mp3 downloads. ALLOFMP3
We Offer 150000 mp3 Downloads from an Archive to browse from. Download songs, download full albums, download MTV charts, lyrics. Updated Daily. [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 4, 2006 5:07:34 AM

» Another Cyclone Hits Australia from the sparsely-populated
storm of the cyclone season hit the sparsely-populated northwest shore, which [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 6, 2006 9:46:16 PM

» Cell Phones from mobilebum.info
News and ... Sep News of Safety phones, new cell phone phones Cell time ... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 8, 2006 7:20:20 PM

» Most popular words 2006: from Reader's Favorites at Scientific American
The articles includes Editor's Favorites, top e-mailed stories, and most popular articles. ... Babies Can Learn Words as Early as 10 Months ... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 13, 2006 10:04:45 AM

» Drugs & Supplements from Drug Information and Supplement Information
Search: Enter a drug name ... LEGAL CONDITIONS AND TERMS OF USE APPLICABLE TO ALL USERS OF THIS SITE. ANY USE OF THIS SITE CONSTITUTES YOUR AGREEMENT TO ... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 14, 2006 10:34:39 AM

» Tastes Good? Food Preferences May Be Determined in the Womb from tudy Finds Critical
tudy Finds Critical Periods in Which Taste Buds Are Influenced [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 26, 2006 1:30:17 PM

» White House Heckler Charged With "Harassing Foreign Official" from clients for websites,
to subscribe. Please visit www.allheadlinenews.com/content-services or call 1-800-673-0179. [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 27, 2006 3:39:26 PM

» 2006 Colleges, College Scholarships and Financial Aid Page from Database of Online Corporate Financial Information
Information on college scholarships and financial aid, featuring a free college scholarship search... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 30, 2006 10:24:07 PM

» Finding Information on the Internet from Net Search
The University of California Berkeley recommends search strategies, explains search tools, and gives guidance on evaluating and citing web pages... [Read More]

Tracked on May 3, 2006 7:10:14 AM

» Find search engines across the world with Search Engine from World Search
Gain quick, efficient access to search engines from countries around the world with Search Engine Colossus - International Directory of Search Engines. [Read More]

Tracked on May 8, 2006 12:26:33 AM

» Job Search from Directory with Free People Search
Perform a quick job search using Job Bank USA's powerful job search engine. ... Thank you for using Job Bank USA's employment search services and job search ... [Read More]

Tracked on May 8, 2006 12:41:43 PM

» USA Search Engine Optimization from Advanced Search | US
Directory of USA (USA) search engine optimization (seo) and marketing professionals for web sites, internet development and viral marketing campaigns. [Read More]

Tracked on May 8, 2006 1:34:00 PM

» Find search engines across the world with Search Engine Colossus from Meta-Search
Gain quick, efficient access to search engines from countries around the world with Search Engine Colossus - International Directory of Search Engines... [Read More]

Tracked on May 16, 2006 6:28:26 PM

» Transfer Round-Up. 15 May 2006 from - Central Coast
Given - GK - Contract Extension - Newcastle - 2011 Coppell - Coach - Contract Extention - Reading - 2007 FRANCE Mirallas - FW - Contract [Read More]

Tracked on May 26, 2006 7:51:58 AM

» Agent Says Brown Still Expecting to Coach Knicks from Larry Brown's
had any contact with the Knicks organization since last week. As far as we're concerned, Larry is recovering from [Read More]

Tracked on May 26, 2006 8:34:31 PM

» News Online from JapanHorse
Features weekly articles, archives to past issues, and timelines of scientific importance. [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 4, 2006 2:23:29 PM

» US seen charging Marines in Iraqi civilian death (Reuters) from a defense attorney
prosecutors were expected to charge seven Marines and a Navy corpsman in the death of an Iraqi civilian, a defense attorney [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 5, 2006 11:51:04 AM

» Landmark Study On Diabetic Foot Unveils Startling Data About Infection-induced Amputation from Washington reveals
Texas A&M, Rosalind Franklin University, and University of Washington reveals strong support for the link [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 6, 2006 4:35:49 PM

» praca oferty pracy za granica from praca oferty pracy za granica
yes [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 14, 2006 3:48:23 AM

» Vanderbilt Cottrell Scholar to use award for research, minority recruitment from is one of 13
physics professor is one of 13 young scientists named a 2006 Cottrell Scholar, a $100,000 [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 28, 2006 4:17:42 PM

» AT&T claims subscribers' data as its own from and Internet
a combination of DSL and satellite TV. Both are set for commercial launch before September. [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 29, 2006 9:17:02 PM

» States and Capitals from All USA States
State information resource links to state homepage, symbols, flags, maps, constitutions, ... All Rights Reserved. Press Ctrl - D to bookmark this page. ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 18, 2006 11:01:33 AM

» RB Toolbar from rbtoolbar
RB Toolbar - уникальный и наиболее перспективный и продуманный проект... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 20, 2006 11:50:36 AM

» Medical Dictionary from Bestbarrel
Searchable dictionary created by Dr. ALFRED. [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 25, 2006 8:11:13 PM

» ALL Themes from Invision Power Board
He has set up a test blog so you can check it out - it’s great work. ... Note to all theme authors: In order to be considered for the competition, ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 26, 2006 5:22:22 AM

» People Search in Internet 2006 from Plot Summary for Words
Words - Cast, Crew, Reviews, Plot Summary, Comments, Discussion, Taglines, Trailers, Posters, Photos, Showtimes, Link to Official Site, Fan Sites. [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 2, 2006 1:25:09 AM

» lookup transformation from People searching
Searchable keywords online... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 2, 2006 1:29:14 AM

» burberry from Burberry Perfume
Buy Burberry perfumes and aftershaves from the best UK shops online. Click on one of the products listed below to compare prices to find the best price to ... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 5, 2006 1:24:58 AM

» India - Nanded bomb blast report by fact finding team from conspiracies
strong indications that deep communal conspiracies were being hatched by the [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 7, 2006 12:46:30 PM

» Pacers Moving in a New Direction from the Indiana Pacers
writes, On Thursday, the Indiana Pacers did not make a deal. That almost constitutes news these days. 'I feel punch-drunk [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 7, 2006 5:35:11 PM

» Pacers Sign Euroleague Standout Baston from titles in 2004
the Pacers, the team announced today, writes Conrad Brunner of Pacers.com. [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 9, 2006 8:38:17 AM

» SAN FRANCISCO / Sandoval backs off putting Olympics proposal on ballot from to express their
2016 Olympic Games. A proposal asking for a nonbinding vote on the matter fizzled Tuesday [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 10, 2006 1:53:39 AM

» Search Results Page - a from ondmd
Your search results page is packed with information. ... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 10, 2006 7:28:47 PM

» Popular phrase from Map Directory
A search engine directory map... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 12, 2006 12:05:39 PM

Comments

Sounds like a character bad SNL skit. Or Foghorn Leghorn's best buddy, Rhode Island Red.

Posted by: Grant | May 13, 2005 10:54:14 AM

It's funny, too, that the metaphors are always fairly simplistic ones. The Milbank article claims that, "Aides occasionally roll their eyes at their boss's pigskin parlance, but they are powerless to block him." But it sounds to me like these are speeches his aides are writing for him.

He undoubtedly does pepper his off-the-record conversation with football metaphors as well, but the examples Milbank provides all smack of a non-player's scripting. They're pretty basic, for someone who played at the quarterback position in a respectable college program.

Maybe they're intentionally sort of "dumbed-down," if that's something you can do to a football metaphor, so that they're more accessible to non-experts, but they certainly don't reveal him to have been much of a student of the game.

No shocker, though, that.

Posted by: Kagro X | May 13, 2005 11:30:08 AM

I guess Allen 'broke formation' yesterday with his bold and daring 'tea drinker-pinky/milquetoast' comment, although it does sound like it could've come out of a locker room.

Posted by: jonnybutter | May 13, 2005 11:35:01 AM

Hey, that's the next POTUS you're talking about, Mark!

Posted by: praktike | May 13, 2005 11:37:07 AM

Thanks again, Virginia.

It wasn't enough you had him for yourself as Governor, you had to let him loose on the rest of America.

Posted by: EG | May 13, 2005 4:53:50 PM

Relax, EG. He's as dumb as a bag of rocks, and I expect America to pick up on that.

As Billmon says, what kind of Senator do you have to be to "make people refer to John Warner as 'the smart one'"?

Posted by: Nell | May 13, 2005 5:42:11 PM

Y'know, I never really noticed that, and I'm a lifelong Virginian. Perhaps it's because I love football too, but that's where our similarities end. Don't worry America: it's true, he has more ambition than brains. He's basically all slick marketing and very little substance, sticks to the talking points...damn, I just described the current President!

Well, forget it - we're all doomed.

Posted by: Ben | May 13, 2005 6:34:39 PM

c'mon sometimes he talks about Mr. Peepers.

Posted by: stress | May 13, 2005 9:52:52 PM

Wonder if he still chews terbacky (http://www.nndb.com/people/185/000032089/)?

Posted by: Borden Tarde | May 13, 2005 10:39:22 PM

My feeling, listening to Allen, is that he is deliberately casting himself as the heir to George W.- an inarticulate, tongue-tied simpleton whose butchered English appeals to the Republican anti-intellectualism.

Posted by: Bob H | May 14, 2005 8:34:44 AM

If Allen wins, will Lakoff drop his strict father vs. nurturant marsupial thing and switch to football vs. soccer?

Posted by: Ethical Werewolf | May 14, 2005 12:26:47 PM

No need to punt yet. It's only first down. We are still in the first quarter. Plenty of time to come back. Oy.

Posted by: The Heretik | May 15, 2005 12:49:08 PM

I agree with EW; we "misunderestimate" him at our own peril. Americans like plain and simple messages, delivered with conviction. It's not such a bad thing - we liberals shouldn't get tongue-tied trying to convey our points. Plus, Allen is A LOT smarter than Dubya. I know that's not saying much, but we've seen what Dubya's done with very little in the way of experience or intelligence; meanwhile, Allen has been Governor AND Senator - imagine what damage he could do.

All that said, I think it's ridiculously early to prognosticate about potential nominees (for either party) in 2008. All of us would be better served focusing on our local/state/national contests in 2006. (FYI, Virginia's gubernatorial election is coming up!)

Posted by: Ben | May 15, 2005 7:14:21 PM

1996

GORE: I'd like to start by offering you a deal, Jack. If you won't use any football stories, I won't tell any of my warm and humorous stories about chlorofluorocarbon abatement.

Posted by: John M. | May 15, 2005 11:10:16 PM

Schefter: Who wins the presidential election in 2008?

Allen: It will be wide open -- I don't know. But here's another thing from my father. Pay attention to the task at hand. I'm chairman of the Republican Senatorial Committee so I'm worrying about all the Senate races we have. I want to strengthen our Republican majority. There are five open seats where the Democrats have retired, and they're exactly the NFC South states. That is the task at hand. We need to come out of the NFC South with a strong winning record.

Posted by: voxel.net | May 16, 2005 4:54:35 AM

Allen-Hayworth 2008

Go for the extra point!

Posted by: Kosh | May 16, 2005 3:36:39 PM

"Relax, EG. He's as dumb as a bag of rocks, and I expect America to pick up on that."

I remember saying something like that myself once, about somebody else-I think it was back in March 2000 . . .

Posted by: rea | May 17, 2005 6:22:15 PM

At every opportunity, Allen should be asked "What down is it?" so his brain will churn away in an endless search for metaphorical resolution

Posted by: David | May 18, 2005 12:25:34 AM

Point taken, rea. I had those same thoughts...

Of course, America as a whole did pick up on it, but a little Floridation and not-to-be-used-as-precedent "results-oriented" jurisprudence and: voila. A lying, out-of-his-depth bag of rocks for President.

Posted by: Nell | May 18, 2005 1:13:50 PM

Allen's father was, IMO, one of the most unscrupulous and generally sleazy (and overrated) coaches in NFL history. For those of you who follow football, George Allan, Sr., was well known for trading draft picks he didn't have to unsuspecting teams and for a paranoid fear of the other teams spying on his practices (although that's not that uncommon in the NFL). His daughter wrote a book that, as I understand it, pretty much talked about what it was like growing up with a lunatic for a father. (One of George, Sr.'s favorite quotes was "Losing is like death.") He is a hero here in Washington because he won a lot of games, but his son is a chip off the old block.

Posted by: Marc Schneider | May 18, 2005 1:30:56 PM

Thanks, Marc, for reminding me of that book by George Allen Sr.'s daughter, the Senator's sister. I vaguely remember hearing about it when it came out. The "Look Inside the Book" excerpt on Amazon is very long, so I just read some of it: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0679452028/ref=sib_rdr_dp/104-2245606-0616761

Total Great Santini stuff. Makes his kids watch a movie about his second season as the Rams' coach over and over again, never comes home, etc.

I sometimes think politicians split into those with father issues -- living up to exaggerated ideals -- and mother issues. GW Bush, Al Gore and Allen all have or had father issues. Clinton, Nixon, had mother issues.

Posted by: Mark Schmitt | May 18, 2005 1:55:56 PM

We lived in the same suburb of Charlottesville as Allen. Yes, he's packaged himself as the gold 'ol boy (pointed boots, shotgun, chewing tobacco). The packaging of our political leaders and aspirants gets more and more professional. But when does the package become the man? Do we really want a guy who looks at complex technical or social issues through the lens of a quarterback who'd rather chug one down rather than a servant of the people working his or her senses, intellect and reasoning for the the greater good?

Posted by: Cosmo Mirra | Jun 2, 2005 8:09:09 PM

mieszkania warszawa

Posted by: mieszkania warszawa | Aug 17, 2006 6:19:07 AM

http://www.dobryweb.pl/katalog/d-e-t-2192.html

http://www.katalog.forumksiazki.pl/info-130.html

http://www.dir-elite.com/inf-19-2609-19.html

http://www.ahref.pl/info-2458.html

http://promocja.forall.pl/link-811.html

http://www.2j.pl/info-5982.html

http://www.addlink.pl/strona,pozycjonowanie_reklama_stron_internetowych,322.html

Posted by: agroturystyka | Nov 1, 2006 5:54:55 PM

cdeeq

Posted by: accompagnatrici sex sex | Nov 13, 2006 2:56:26 PM