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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)

Her book is out of print and difficult to find, but independent reviews describe it as highly sexual and "steamy" and mention lesbian characters.

Allen's attack on Webb's novels occurred three weeks after the senator gave a two-minute speech pleading for a return to issues after having defended himself against personal-character scandals for months. "The negative personal attacks and baseless allegations have also pulled us away from what you expect and deserve," Allen told voters in the unusual paid television commercial.

By Friday morning, however, the new allegations unleashed by his campaign had become the highlight of morning talk-radio shows and cable news outlets. Conservative groups seized on the news, with one calling for Webb to withdraw for writing "Triple X" novels. Cable news shows debated the issue throughout the day.

Several Web sites and blogs printed the passages. One, from "Fields of Fire," was: "He saw the invitation with every bouncing breast and curved hip. . . . He was thirteen. . . . She was fifteen. . . ." Another was about a man seeing his mother: "She was naked underneath the robe . . . and the robe fell loosely away, revealing her."

Kay James, an Allen campaign adviser, criticized the writings: "How can women trust Jim Webb to represent their views in the Senate when chauvinistic attitudes and sexually exploitative references run throughout his fiction and nonfiction writings?"

Webb's allies rushed to his defense, saying the attempt to criticize an author for scenes in a work of fiction reflects a Republican campaign in Virginia that is in disarray and desperately searching for a way to win at any cost.

Steve Jarding, a senior Webb adviser, said Allen's lack of wartime experience disqualifies him from commenting on Webb's novels.

"Senator, you have not earned the right to question Jim Webb's wartime experiences," Jarding said. "Perhaps if you had gone to Vietnam and served as a company commander instead of serving as a [cattle] driver at a dude ranch . . . you would temper your feigned indignation."

Best-selling author John Grisham, who with Stephen King held a fundraiser for Webb in Charlottesville, said Friday in an interview: "This is a clear sign of a desperate campaign if they plow through novels trying to find evidence of character. I seriously doubt George Allen is much of a reader, but if he would read more, maybe he would understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction."

Some people said Webb's novels are works of imagination intended to be informative and provide entertainment, not statements of actions that Webb endorses.

Margaret R. Soltan, an English professor at George Washington University, said voters should not regard Webb's novels as indicative of his views, any more than voters in England should have been deterred by some of Winston Churchill's more shocking writing.

"To think along those lines exposes you as a person who has no culture," she said.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a Vietnam war hero who has endorsed Allen, praises "Lost Soldiers" on the book jacket. "It captures well the lingering scars of the war," he says. "A novel of revenge and redemption that tells us much about both where Vietnam is headed and where it has been."

An aide to McCain said Friday she could not reach the senator.

Staff writer Robert Barnes contributed to this report.

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