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October Surprise: Clobber the Blogger

At a campaign stop in Charlottesville, Virginia, staffers for Senator George Allen (R-VA) beat up Mike Stark, United States Marine, University of Virginia Law student, and blogger for Daily Kos.

The issue which gets neglected due to the unseemly and easy-to-sensationalize behavior of Senator Allen’s staffers (and which Stark tries to raise before being assaulted) is Allen’s apparent history as a bully. Allen’s sister, Jennifer Allen, explains in her book Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach’s Daughter,

We all obeyed George. If we didn't, we knew he would kill us. Once, when Bruce refused to go to bed, George hurled him through a sliding glass door. Another time, when Gregory refused to go to bed, George tackled him and broke his collarbone. Another time, when I refused to go to bed, George dragged me up the stairs by my hair. (22)

Possibly hoping to embarrass Senator Allen about similar abuse Allen may have committed against his first wife (the divorce records are sealed), Stark approaches Allen after the speech but is physically barred by Allen staffers. Dismayed, Stark says

Why are you putting your hands on me? I'm asking my senator—I‘m a constituent. He’s my senator. I’m asking a question.

Stark is then shoved by one male staffer who tells Stark to leave the building. Stark tries to ascertain whether the staffer has the authority to eject Stark, and the staffer replies he is not a part of the Omni Hotel staff and proceeds to beat Stark with the assistance of a second staffer who places Stark in a headlock. Stark resists defensively (he does not fight back, attempting only to elude his assailants) and shouts at Allen

Senator Allen, did you spit on your first wife?

The first staffer then responds, "Aw, now you’re getting personal” and throws Stark against the corridor’s windows and to the floor. Stark maintains his composure and replies, “I didn’t touch anybody.” Stark stands and the first staffer tells Stark, “You need to move on out of here, now,” shoving him one last time as the second staffer, arm encircling Stark, pushes Stark toward the exit.

Before leaving, Stark says, “If the hotel asked me to leave, I’d leave” and the first staffer (off camera) responds “You getting personal?” Just before exiting, Stark asks “Did he [spit on his first wife]? What do you know?” The second staffer says, “I know he’s a good man” and the first staffer shouts, ”I know you’re a punk!”

The video is a tough break for Senator Allen and his rapidly southward-bound reelection campaign. Stark is composed and respectful. He only asks to speak with Allen and he does not fight back. Allen’s staffers behave atrociously and commence assaulting the peacable if resistant Stark. All the while, Stark clearly states he desires only to speak with his elected representative and that he is confused about why he is being physically abused.

However, my tentacle-wagging at the Senator Allen’s ill-mannered henchmen staffers is not what Allen should worry about. What the Allen campaign needs now is to understand that his thugs cheerleaders have physically assaulted an ex-Marine who from all appearances understands how to put together a lawsuit. In a letter to the Charlottesville-area NBC affiliate, WVIR, Stark states

I will be pressing charges against George Allen and his surrogates later today. George Allen, at any time, could have stopped the fray. All he had to do was say, "This is not how my campaign is run. Take your hands off that man." He could have ignored my questions. Instead he and his thugs chose violence. I spent four years in the Marine Corps. I'll be damned if I'll let my country be taken from me by thugs that are afraid of taking responsibility for themselves.

It just isn't the America I know and love. Somebody needs to take a stand against those that would bully and intimidate their fellow citizens. That stand begins right here, right now.

WVIR report on Allen campaign staffers assaulting UVa Law student Mike Stark

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Trick or treat, Senator Allen. Trick or treat. end of article


Boingboing post: “George ‘macaca’ Allen’s staff beats up blogger at campaign rally1

The Huffington Post on Jennifer Allen’s Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach’s Daughter

Wonkette post: “Allen Staffers Beat Up Blogger, Nation Celebrates

WVIR article: “Incident at Allen Campaign Stop in Charlottesville

1 Boingboing’s report of this incident is the first one I encountered.
Works Cited

Allen, Jennifer. Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach's Daughter. New York: Random House, 2000.