Wednesday, February 09, 2011

One Term Jim, Redux

At the risk of patting ourselves on the back, some words of wisdom from the "Grooveyard of Forgotten Hits" (as El Rushbo might say), dated November 10, 2006:

Flag the post...let the record show that we are the first to to advocate the electoral defeat Democratic Senator-elect Jim Webb in 2012. We've already read puff-pieces in the MSM and the blogosphere suggesting that Mr. Webb "won't be so bad," noting his support for gun rights and past military experience, both as a Marine officer in Vietnam, and later, as Navy Secretary in the Reagan Administration.

But if you really want to know where Jim Webb stands on the critical issues of the day, look no further than yesterday's "victory" speech in Arlington. Speaking shortly after incumbent George Allen graciously conceded--without requesting a recount--Webb promised to restore "responsibility" to U.S. foreign policy and advocated a "new approach" in Iraq that will lead to a diplomatic solution.

And, if that weren't enough, the millionaire lawyer and novelist took another page out of the DNC talking points, pledging to "work hard on issues of economic fairness in a country that has been too divided by class." He even announced plans to have lunch with George Allen, and discuss how they can help stop the "politics of divisiveness, character assassination and distraction."


The MSM is already fawning over Jim Webb as one of the leading lights of the "new" Senate, but I'll crawl out on the limb and predict that he'll be a disappointment in that chamber, if not a disaster. Fact is, the Marine hero from Vietnam (where he earned the Navy Cross) long ago morphed into a Washington elitist, with little appreciation for the lives of ordinary Americans.... One more thought: I caught a bit of Pat Buchanan on Hardball last night, although watching anything with Chris Matthews strains my patience. While praising Webb's abilities, Buchanan described him as a "curmudgeon" (Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle) and someone who can be difficult to get along with. That ought to play well in the Senate, where deal-making and back-scratching are the name of the game.

Sadly, we won't have Senator Webb to kick around at the ballot box next year. Today, Mr. Webb announced that he won't seek a second term in 2012, avoiding a re-match with George Allen, who is already campaigning to retake the Senate seat. Unless another high-profile Democrat (say, former Governor Tim Kaine) decides to enter the race, Mr. Allen will likely coast back into office.

As for Senator Webb, there was plenty of speculation as to why he decided not to seek re-election. Many pundits blamed the "toxic" atmosphere of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, where real work usually takes a back seat to filibustering and deal-making. On Fox News, Charles Krauthamer bemoaned Webb's departure, suggesting if "men like him" can't take the grind, then there's little hope for improvement in the Senate.

But Mr. Webb was always a poor fit for the post, despite his stellar resume (Vietnam War Hero; best-selling novelist, Navy Secretary during the Reagan Administration). For starters, Webb has a prickly personality, as evidenced by post-election dust-up with then-President George Bush. When Mr. Bush asked about Webb's son--a Marine then serving in Iraq--Webb launched into a political tirade, telling the President he wanted the troops withdrawn. President Bush rightly cut him off: "I didn't ask you that," he said, I asked how your son's doing."

Webb claimed he was so incensed by Bush's behavior that he wanted to "slug" the President, a statement was promptly leaked to the press. Needless to say, that didn't win him any friends at the White House. Then, he angered staffers on the Hill by letting an aide take the rap for trying to smuggle a gun into a Senate office building. Webb's assistant was facing potentially serious criminal charges until it was revealed the gun belonged to the Senator.

Still, Mr. Webb's real miscues occurred in the policy arena. His "solution" for Iraq was some sort of negotiated deal that would have left the country in the hands of terrorists and Islamic radicals. He voted for Obamacare, despite the fact that most Virginians were dead-set against the measure.

And, despite his impressive defense credentials, Mr. Webb proved unable to halt the closing of Joint Force Command in Norfolk, or the transfer of Navy carrier from Virginia to Jacksonville. Collectively, those moves will result in the loss of at least 8,000 military and civilian jobs. He did lead a successful effort to pass the new Post 9-11 GI Bill, increasing education benefits for military personnel and veterans. That was the singular "accomplishment" of a mediocre legislative record.

To his credit, though, Jim Webb can read the political tea leaves. After "going purple" in 2006 and 2008, Virginia turned a bright red in 2010, with Republicans sweeping the top statewide offices and making big gains in the state legislature. Democratic prospects haven't exactly improved since the November election and Webb was the GOP's #1 Virginia target next year. Rather than lose to the man he defeated five years ago, Jim Webb has decided to call it a political day.

But don't feel sorry for him. Mr. Webb can resume his lucrative writing career, and top-drawer D.C. law firms and lobbying groups will jockey for his services. Meanwhile, 2012 is already shaping up as a bad year for Webb's party. With his departure, Mr. Webb (a former Republican) has become the second incumbent Democrat to announce his retirement. And the election is still 19 months away.

1 comment:

owr084 said...

Good riddance. Webb recently sent out an e-mail to his constituents bragging about how he helped out small businesses by voting to repeal the 1099 provisions of 0bamacare. However, the hypocrite failed to mention that he voted for the bill and all of its provisions including the 1099 requirement. In other words, he was for it before he was against it. If he had just bothered to listen to his constituents and voted against 0bamacare in the first place...