You say "Macaca," I say "Mo' Caca"

A new explanation from the Allen camp.

Published August 16, 2006 7:47PM (EDT)

In an attempt to dig their boss out of, well, something, aides to Sen. George Allen are apparently spreading the word that he didn't mean to hurl a racist epithet at a 20-year-old volunteer for his political opponent.

Allen was just calling the kid a shit head.

No, really.

According to the National Journal's Hotline, Allen aides are telling anyone who will listen that "Macaca" -- the name the Virginia Republican bestowed upon an Indian-American in his midst -- was a "mash-up" of "mohawk," referring to their interpretation of S.R. Sidarth's hairstyle, and "caca," which the Hotline describes oh-so-delicately as "Spanish slang for excrement, or 'shit.'" The aides say that they used the name for Sidarth themselves long before Allen was caught saying it on videotape last Friday.

To be fair, it's not clear from the Hotline's report whether, in this version of the story, Allen knew that "Macaca" was supposed to mean "more shit" or whether he actually thought it was Sidarth's name. And it does seem to us that, regardless of his own familiy history, a wannabe cowboy like Allen probably is more familiar with the Spanish word for "shit" than he is with the scientific name for a species of monkey or a racial slur with Flemish roots.

But still, this is supposed to make things better?

A spokeswoman for James Webb's campaign said it's time to move on, but she had this to say first: "I don't know what's worse; calling this innocent 20-year-old a 'shit head' or a racist slur that was debatable that it wasn't. This is a kid that had done George Allen no harm. The term was used to demean him. That's the bottom line."

To which we'd say: "Bottom line? Get it? Heh heh." Only we're neither Beavis nor Butt-head nor the junior senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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