Personally, I find the fun being made at George Allen's expense (and its hardly only Yglesias doing it) to be a little sad and unfair.
Was Allen a being a world class jerk when he called that guy an ethnic slur? No question. I didn't and don't buy for a second that he didn't know what it means, or that it was an appropriate light jest. It was a nasty, rude thing to say. But he said it, he apologized for it and appears appropriately contrite. Does that mean that we completely forget it, or not hold Allen accountable for it? Of course not. But we don't act like it is permanently dispositive of the man's character or his attitudes on race. People have to be able to demonstrate appropriate contrition for racially insensitive attitudes, and forgiven when appropriate. The more that racist or racially insensitive remarks are treated as a permanent scar on someone's public perception, the more that racist attitudes are allowed to fester, and the more that decent people are unfairly marginalized from popular discourse.
People are always a process. They are never a product. People in the liberal blogosphere are acting like Allen is the worst possible spokesman for racial and ethnic outreach because of his history. I think that, if his remorse is genuine and he doesn't have ugly views on ethnicity, he's the best spokesman for such an event. We have to demonstrate that the wheels of racial and ethnic justice are powered by education and understanding, not by exclusion. Look, I believe that it makes perfect sense for black and other minority voters to vote Democratic. But this is because of policy, not the absence of prejudice. I do think that there is more simple racial animus in the Republican party than the Democratic party, but the Democratic party is hardly pure on that front. More importantly, the presumption of one party or another's attitudes towards race are largely irrelevent. It is the policy prescriptions that minority voters should worry about, and it's there that I think they would do well to vote Democratic, not on unsubstantiated notions of widespread Republican racism.
Could it be that George Allen is just a jerk with ugly attitudes about ethnicity? Sure, it's possible. Would I vote for him? No. But he has to have a second (and third and so on) chance to demonstrate his character. What good does it do for racial or ethnic justice to exclude George Allen from polite society? Very little to none at all. You can see irony in Allen speaking at an event for Republican outreach, or you can see an opportunity to demonstrate the capability for people to make mistakes without defining themselves forever. The coverage of this in liberal blogs has been far too much of a snarky gotcha, rather than an opportunity for real discussion.