How Webb Must Respond: FACT, NOT FICTION
Relevant passages include:
"A shirtless man walked toward them along a mud pathway. His muscles were young and hard, but his face was devastated with wrinkles. His eyes were so red that they appeared to be burned by fire. A naked boy ran happily toward him from a little plot of dirt. The man grabbed his young son in his arms, turned him upside down, and put the boy's penis in his mouth."
"Fogarty . . . watch[ed] a naked young stripper do the splits over a banana. She stood back up, her face smiling proudly and her round breasts glistening from a spotlight in the dim bar, and left the banana on the bar, cut in four equal sections by the muscles of her vagina."
The story is extremely young, but so far, there has no been no substantive response from the Webb campaign.
Now, all other things being equal, this might be a strong blow against the Webb campaign.
And I sorry to say it, but it's true: A simple "Hey, it's just fiction!" response simply won't cut it here. After all, we have made a big deal about Scooter Libby's girl-bear sex passages. What a novelist writes can and does provide an insight into his or her own worldview and character. And these passages, if cut from whole-cloth straight from the imagination of an author, would be extremely disturbing and cast doubt on the moral character of the author himself.
That need not be the case here, however--because there's a great comeback that Webb can provide to this that should put Allen very much on the defensive, if the Webb campaign is smart enough to use it.
That defense lies NOT in the idea that these are works of FICTION, but rather that they are works of FACT.
What do I mean? I'll tell you.
You see, if the public believes that Webb wrote these things straight from his own head and fertile imagination, Virginia voters will believe that he is one sick puppy with a sick imagination and a degrading view of women and children.
If, on the other hand, Webb comes out and says that these passages were based on actual experiences from the hellhole of Vietnam, the public will not only NOT view him as a pervert, but see him as a hero. It can easily be that Webb, rather than write a memoir of the war, chose to channel expression of what he witnessed into a fictional account.
Above all, he can use the incident to draw more attention to the fact that WEBB served his country during Vietnam, while Allen did not.
His response should look like this:
"George Allen is dragging my name through the mud based on some scary passages that are in some of my books. But I won't distance myself from those passages: I won't do it because they're based on REAL events that I saw with my own eyes in Vietnam. That why none other than John McCain endorsed these books: because they relate the sorts of awful things that happened during that war.
Not that George Allen would know that, since he has never served his country, and was using racist slurs and stuffing doe's heads into the mailboxes of African-American families at the time."
And John McCain DID endorse him:
From Publishers Weekly
Webb's cultural and political portrayal of Vietnam 25 years after the war's end is delivered with such bold strokes and magical detail that it really doesn't matter that the plot itself is relegated to the backseat. This is a highly personal and empathetic look at today's Vietnam, a land of misery and inequity, yet one still vibrantly alive. The story follows the experiences of Brandon Condley, an ex-Marine whose job it is to find missing American soldiers, dead or alive. Condley is trying to track down Theodore Deville, an army grunt who not only deserted his unit in 1969 and killed a fellow serviceman, but then joined the ranks of the enemy. Condley is convinced Deville is still alive, operating somewhere in southeast Asia's underground economy. Webb introduces a rich cast of supporting characters as Condley pursues his quarry across Vietnam, Australia, the former Soviet Union and Thailand. Among the most delicately etched is Dzung, a former South Vietnamese officer now relegated, like thousands of others on the losing side, to a menial station in life, one that he and his family have no hope of escaping. Such characters, as well as the highly textured mood and atmosphere that Webb creates, tend to further eclipse the main narrative and shift the focus to the moral consequences and social fallout of the war. This detailed, lovingly drawn portrait of Vietnam reveals a sad, tortured country that has never recovered from the horrifying events of a quarter-century ago. Major print and radio advertising. (Sept. 4)Forecast: Webb (Fields of Fire) is no stranger to the bestseller lists; endorsements from heavy hitters like Sen. John McCain will help put him there once again.
That alone should put this to rest.
Above all, however, Webb must NOT fall into the trap of saying that this is just fiction. That would be absolutely devastating.
Webb must come out on OFFENSE--and declare these passages to be based on the eyewitness experiences of a real solider, who served his country honorably during a real war, in writings endorsed by a real Republican war hero.
Webb is poised for a brutal and eviscerating counterattack--if he's smart enough to use it.