Allen Blasts Webb Novels For Sex Scenes

Sen. George Allen's aides would not say whether he has read the books, which he says demean women.
Sen. George Allen's aides would not say whether he has read the books, which he says demean women. (By Mark Wilson -- Getty Images)
By Michael D. Shear and Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 28, 2006

RICHMOND, Oct. 27 -- Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) has accused his Democratic opponent, James Webb, of writing inappropriate sex scenes and demeaning descriptions of women in his fictional books, the latest character attack in a close and nasty campaign.

With 10 days remaining before Election Day, the allegations about sex-laced passages in Webb's writings inject a new question into a campaign that has centered almost exclusively on character issues: Should the author of a fictional work who runs for office be personally held to account for the scenes in his books?

Webb, a former U.S. Navy secretary, responded angrily Friday on Washington Post Radio, defending his novels as "serious" works and calling Allen's attack part of the senator's negative campaign that is devoid of ideas. "To take these things out and pull excerpts out and force them on people . . . is just a classic example of the way this campaign is run," Webb said. "Literature is literature. I've made my career as a novelist. George Allen doesn't have a record to run on."

Webb's books, including "Lost Soldiers," "Something to Die For" and "Fields of Fire," are historical novels that describe wartime horrors in Vietnam and people dealing with the aftermath of combat. Webb is a decorated Marine who served in Vietnam.

Allen campaign officials provided excerpts from the books -- some of them depicting acts of incest and graphic sexuality -- to the Drudge Report Web site Thursday night. Matt Drudge's Internet blog often breaks or promotes stories with sensational angles, most recently the scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.). Allen's aides, who have been trying to get other news organizations to write about the excerpts for weeks, issued statements saying the fictional scenes in Webb's novels reflect poorly on Webb's character and fitness for office.

Allen told reporters after a campaign stop in Harrisonburg that Webb's books are demeaning to women. "My opponent hasn't been in public office," he said. "But he talks about the books he's written and his creative writing, his novels. Those are some of his writings. . . . People can make that judgment."

Allen's aides would not say whether the senator had read Webb's books. They said he did not know about the books' contents six years ago, when he accepted Webb's endorsement for his first Senate campaign.

Webb said the graphic scenes in his novels, many of which are set in wartime, are taken out of context and do not accurately reflect the books or their content: combat. He said he has written about disturbing scenes that he witnessed on the battlefield or as a journalist in Southeast Asia.

"It is an observation about how the human species lives," Webb said after Mark Plotkin, the radio show's host, read one of the more lurid passages, prompting objections from the candidate.

Webb told Plotkin that listeners should read a book by Allen's sister, Jennifer, who described her brother's harsh physical treatment toward her. He also shot back that Vice President Cheney's wife, Lynne, wrote a novel, "Sisters," which contains scenes of rape and a lesbian love affair. "You can read Lynne Cheney's lesbian love scenes if you want to get graphic on stuff," he said.

In an interview later on CNN, Cheney declared Webb to be "full of baloney" and denied that she wrote anything in "Sisters" that is sexually explicit.

"His novels are full of sexually explicit references to incest -- sexually explicit references," she said.

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