Allen may reasonably claim that what he did as a teenager four decades ago shouldn't be held against him now. But the consistent evidence in Lizza's piece that Allen's red state good 'ol boy schtick is little more than a personal invention, carefully cultivated and maintained through the years, should at least give the press corps pause as they cover his campaign. They've gotten suckered by this act before, and both McCain and Allen are currently gearing up to sucker them again with the same song in a different key. Caveat emptor should be their watch phrase this time around.
While Allen plays the affable "regular guy" out of one side of his mouth, he sucks up to peddlers of extremism and hate out of the other. The key to this whole ruse is that these are two sides of the same coin. Once reporters and commentators deem a politician "authentic" or "regular," they're all too often willing to let that distract them from his dalliances with figures who are anything but regular or mainstream. Unlike in 2000, McCain is now cozying up to despicable figures like Jerry Falwell -- and the key reason many are letting McCain skate by is that they're still snookered by his alleged straight-talking.