It would appear That Jim Webb (former Senator from Virginia) is seriously considering running for President of the United States against Hillary Rodham Clinton! If he actually does proclaim his candidacy, he gets points just for having the temerity to challenge the coronation. Added to that, the possibility that Hillary will continue to self-implode, and I think it might be worth the time to take a little better look at Mr. Jim Webb.
Recently Senator Webb caught my interest in his interview with CNN. His comments on the Iran negotiations were not what I was expecting. The Democrats are lined up in partisan support of what appears to be the biggest Foreign Relations blunder in American history. Every time that we stick our fingers in the Middle East pie we just mess it up. In keeping with our “mess it up” philosophy, we are now paving a legitimate way for Iran to continue inching toward a nuclear weapon. That just can’t turn out well. Senator Webb is clear in his skepticism and desire to ensure that any agreement be fully vetted and approved by Congress. So basically, his view would get more eyes on the problem in order to prevent an inadvertent mistake that will allow Iran to gain access to nuclear weapons. If you look at the logic and drop the partisan rhetoric, his stance is spot on. I really like a candidate that can think for himself. Candidates who regularly regurgitate standard party politics are simply boring. So what other divergence from the party-line does Senator Webb have going for him?
Jim Webb has an “A” rating from the NRA! As a Democrat that is unusual. Combined with his somewhat standard Democratic stance on environmental issues and many hunters are even starting to see him as a friend.
His divergence has one more caveat, in 2006 James advocated securing the border first and then dealing with the other issues surrounding our failed immigration policies. Some of his ideas are tighter restriction against employers who hire illegal immigrants and a path for citizenship. To me that adds up to a moderate stance on immigration reform. Once again, James Webb seems to be thinking for himself instead of numbly rehearsing party propaganda.
All politicians seem to have a stance or two that set them apart. Senator Webb is no different. He has demonstrated the ability to think through military entanglements taking into account geopolitical and regional information and predict possible outcomes. Before President Bush charged into Iraq, Jim Webb predicted what the result would be. His comments were prescient. This is no small talent in today’s world.
Jim Webb is also known for his pro-union stance and as an advocate of prison reform. Those two issues could play well in the forth coming Presidential campaign.
Otherwise, James Webb is a Democrat with a voting record in support of woman’s choice, gay rights, and other Democrat cookie cutter opinions. In today’s highly polarized political climate where we pick our leaders based on “sides” rather than rational evaluations of their experience and political ideologies,Senator Jim Webb has stepped away from the a predictable spot in the fray. The web site, “On the Issues,” rates him as a Moderate Liberal based on his past social issue votes. In today’s world and taking a broader look at his political stances, I would place him squarely in the Moderate classification.
Jim Webb’s story is a little different than most modern politicians. It begins in the Navy ROTC and moves from there to an appointment at the Naval Academy in Annapolis where he graduated top in his class of roughly 340 Marine officers. Second Lieutenant Webb went to Vietnam where he became First Lieutenant Webb, a highly decorated war hero. He returned from combat with two purple hearts and carrying some unwanted shrapnel. Promoted again, this time to Captain, he served as an Officer Candidate School training officer in Quantico Virginia but was eventually given a medical release from military duty due to the shrapnel in his knee. After attending George Washington School of Law he latter continued his military bonafides with a three year stint as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and a nine month appointment as the United States Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Regan. The pinnacle of his experience, however, is his serving one six year term as a United States Senator from Virginia. That position ended over two years ago in January 2013.
Usually when a soldier becomes politically influential they become very “hawkish.” Jim Webb has not. Rather he has become critical of the misuse of military forces by the United States. Neither a hawk nor a dove, Jim Webb is an informed military pragmatist. If aligned with the power of the Presidency and the current conflicted world situation, that talent alone means he needs to be taken seriously as a candidate.
So what else has good ol’ Jim been doing? From his home page we learn that Senator Webb has traveled widely as a journalist, he received an Emmy Award for his PBS coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983, and in 2004 was embedded with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. A screenwriter and producer, his original story “Rules of Engagement” held the top slot in U.S. box offices for two weeks in April 2000. Mr. Webb has written ten books, including “Born Fighting,” a sweeping history of the Scots – Irish culture, and “Fields of Fire,” widely recognized as the classic novel of the Vietnam War.
Currently Senator Webb is married to his third wife Hong Le Webb a corporate lawyer and a very impressive lady in her own right. Hong Le was born in Vietnam but escaped to America when she was eight. She is twenty two years younger than Jim.
Senator Webb lists his religion as non-denominational Christian. He is a healthy 70 years old. (I know, you can’t tell me there hasn’t been a little work done around those young looking eyes, etc.) That is two years older than Hillary and, should he become a candidate, will most likely become an issue.
So, back to the question, does he meet The Moral Middle standard? Jim seems to have an internal belief system derived from his pragmatism and love of country. His ethos is strong enough that he stands for what he feels to be right. This trait has gotten him labeled as a “maverick.” Not really a good title in our nation’s sycophantic political circles.
You have to realize that Jim is a soldier not a saint as evidenced by some of the passages in his writings and somewhat lack luster religious declaration. So the question really comes down to whether or not his pragmatism, his accumulated life experiences, have given him a solid foundation in what Aristotle would call noble principles. That is something that would be strongly vetted during the primary process. For now, I think I will give Jim the benefit of the doubt and say yes.
Behind the scenes in the Democratic field of potential candidates you have both Senator Bernie Sanders and Governor Martin O’Malley making some noise about a potential run. There is also some serious pressure being placed on Elizabeth Warren to get involved. While they have their differences, all three of these possible contenders have political ideologies well into the “liberal/progressive stratosphere. Accordingly, the more down to earth moderate Jim Webb would offer a differing perspective and a real choice but, will we get that choice?
Recently, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee Chairwoman, said that while “Clinton is currently running uncontested for the party nomination, she (the Committee) is planning for a series of sanctioned primary debates.” That statement from those that should know, provides us some real hope that we may get the chance to choose a Democratic nominee.
In this highly violent and chaotic time where war rages throughout the world, Jim Webb could offer real leadership to see us through the fight. Perhaps that might even be valuable enough to see the more conservative electorate set aside the national battle over lost social issues for a time. Personally I feel that this moral battle is paramount to the nation’s future viability but I might be persuaded to continue the fight in Congress and let Jim Webb bring his unique talents to bear and straighten out our foreign military involvement.
I like Jim Webb. At this point, I could even see myself voting for him. The caveat of course, it would depend on who the Republicans end up with. Personally, I like Senator Jim Webb better than some of the Republican wannabes and a little less than others.
(Having said that I need to interject that I am not a politician and therefore maintain the right to change my mind. Of course, if you are a Republican that is called flip flopping. If you are a Democrat it is called evolving. I am neither and I just call it getting smarter.)