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April 5, 2008

A web pitch for a Webb VP pick

The folks at Politico have this new piece about possible VP picks for the Democratic nominee, and I cannot help but add my two cents: I strongly favor Senator Jim Webb as the VP choice for the Dems.  Let me explain as a matter of political strategy and policy substance:

Political Strategy: As detailed in his official and wikipedia bios, Senator Webb was born in Missouri and elected to the Senate from Virginia.  If the Democrats can carry both these swing states, they have a huge advantage getting to 270.  In addition, Senator Webb has an extraordinary resume, both in terms of military and (outside-the-Beltway) achievements, which should draw support from all sorts of people from all parts of the country.  For example, during the Reagan years, Webb became the "first Naval Academy graduate in history to serve in the military and then become Secretary of the Navy."  In addition, Webb "has authored eight books, including six best-selling novels, and has worked extensively as a screenwriter and producer in Hollywood."  In addition, Webb "taught literature at the Naval Academy as their first visiting writer, has traveled worldwide as a journalist, and earned an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his PBS coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut."

Policy Substance: To my knowledge, Senator Webb is the only prominent national politician who has held a congressional hearing directly addressing the problems of mass incarceration (details here and here and here).  In addition, I believe Senator Webb is an avid supporter of individual gun rights, which is sure to become a campaign issue once the Supreme Court decides Heller.  I am not deeply familiar with Webb's other policy positions, but his insightful concern about mass incarceration suggests to me that he is a thoughtful observer of national policy problems.

Listing a con for Senator Webb, the Politico piece says "Blunt and unpredictable, he might be a reluctant campaigner."  With a nation clearly tired of politics as usual, I view "blunt and unpredictable" as a pro rather than a con.  And I think Webb's military resume and anti-Iraq-war stance should make him the ideal person to attack Senator McCain on all sorts of policy issues.

Cross-posted at PrawfsBlawg

April 5, 2008 at 04:39 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Jim Webb is a excellent choice. It would be such a relief to have the political dialog change with this combination. Webb is a superb intellect with a clear and direct manner of speaking.

Posted by: beth curtis | Apr 5, 2008 8:56:53 PM

Iraq, Iraq, Iraq . . .

The problem is that the entire Dem. stance on Iraq is based on a false hope. They believe that we can have peace by pulling out. This is simply not the case. Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and As Sahab propaganda have all consistently said that Iraq is but the first of many objectives for al Qaeda. Giving them a taste of victory (by pulling out) in the face of their explicitly stated plans to push further makes about as much sense as it made to give Hitler a taste of victory by giving him the Sudetenland in the face of his explicitly stated plans to do more.

I realize that the US electorate currently appears not to realize this. I believe that they will come to understand it before November. And I, for one, will do everything possible to make that happen.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Apr 6, 2008 1:53:08 AM

Webb might be a good choice - however right now this country does not need a democratic President. I sorry.

Posted by: jimmy | Apr 6, 2008 4:43:16 AM

I have believed for quite a while that Jim Webb would be the best choice for VP. He is one of the few (only?) senators who is willing to (1) say what he actually believes (and say it to people in power) and (2) take stands on issues, such as the criminal justice system, because he believes it is the right thing to do even when it could lose him votes.

Come to think of it, why don't we just forget the rest of the bickering idiots and run him for president?

Posted by: disillusioned layman | Apr 6, 2008 10:17:21 AM

The problem with Webb is that he is unhinged. He is too unpredictable.

Posted by: | Apr 6, 2008 1:00:00 PM

The problem is that the entire Dem. stance on Iraq is based on a false hope. They believe that we can have peace by pulling out.

The question is not whether Iraq can have peace if we pull out, but whether it can have peace if we stay in. If Iraq is doomed to be a violent place no matter what we do, then we might as well pull out. Then at least our soldiers don't have to die while they beat each other's brains out.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Apr 7, 2008 8:51:05 AM

One serious problem with a Webb vice presidential bid is that there is definitely no guarantee that the Democrats could hold on to his seat in Virginia. With already one open race (for the seat of retiring Senator John Warner) and their only available strong candidate with proven statewide appeal, former Governor Mark Warner already running, it is very unlikely that the Democrats would give up a Senate seat they are not likely to retain. Add in the matter that Virginia has not voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since 1964 (and only twice since 1948), and Webb for Vice President raises even more problems. Webb also until a few years ago was a Republican - while there is precedent for that in the Democratic party, there is not a Franklin Roosevelt who can get away with nominating someone from outside of the party establishment (Henry A. Wallace, who was nominated for Vice President in 1940 was a Republican when he became Secretary of Agriculture in 1933 and only switched to the Democratic Party around 1938 - but when Roosevelt's influence was waning in 1944, the party machine made sure that one of their products, Harry Truman got the nomination which given that FDR was dying at that point assured he would become president - of course, the party establishment did not trust Wallce (which turned out to be with good reason since Wallace later ran a third party campaign in 1948 and then supported Eisenhower for President).

The political reality of the matter makes it very unlikely. The Democrats see Virginia as a place where they can pick up a Senate seat - Webb for VP practically guarantees that would not happen. The fact that Webb is a newcomer to the Democratic Party means that the party establishment will not embrace him. Add in that Virginia is a state where the Democrats will almost undoubtably lose anyway, and you see why Webb is not likely to get the VP nomination.

Posted by: Zack | Apr 7, 2008 11:52:20 AM

Zack makes some pretty good points, though he goes a bit too far. Unlike 1944, the Democrats are not seriously worried about the VP succeeding to the presidency. Obviously, it is always a theoretical possibility, but I don't think it will be the animating factor in Obama's choice.

Unless Obama is a complete fool, he will likely select a running mate to his right who has solid executive experience and national security credentials. Webb ticks all of the right boxes. The fact that the party establishment "will not embrace" Webb is irrelevant, even if it's true. (They were only too happy to embrace him when he supplied their 51st vote in the Senate.) Obama doesn't need more help attracting liberal votes. Where he needs help is with independents and moderate Republicans, and in that sense Webb fits the bill.

But there are other running mates who help the same way as Webb, without the Democrats having to risk relinquishing one of the seats in their narrow Senate majority. For that reason, I agree with Zack that Webb is not Obama's most likely choice.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Apr 7, 2008 12:08:53 PM

Actually, Marc I was comparing this election to 1940 which is the time when the Democrats nominated someone who was an outsider to their party's establishment, not 1944 (which was brought up to show that even FDR had his political limits and that 1940 was a very unusual election - so special in fact, that the Republican presidential nomination, Wendell Wilkie had been a Democrat almost right up to the election but that may well have been a move of desperation on the part of the Republicans).

Also one has to keep in mind that Obama was the "outsider" candidate for this election (since Clinton was the establishment choice). That generally points to an establishment vice presedential nomination - probably a governor or ex-governor.

Posted by: Zack | Apr 7, 2008 3:28:20 PM

I don't really understand why a democratic establishment VP candidate would be a help in the general election. Obama's sudden rise in national politics has come in spite of the democratic establishment. I believe that in this national election voters are looking for a new political dialog - I could be wrong and perhaps I believe it because that's what I'm looking for.

Posted by: beth curtis | Apr 7, 2008 8:23:34 PM

I don't really understand why a democratic establishment VP candidate would be a help in the general election. Obama's sudden rise in national politics has come in spite of the democratic establishment. I believe that in this national election voters are looking for a new political dialog - I could be wrong and perhaps I believe it because that's what I'm looking for.

Posted by: beth curtis | Apr 7, 2008 8:24:39 PM

I can't disagree with Webb on his merits, but I'm skeptical of your electoral "strategery." The notion of choosing a VP candidate to carry his home state was probably thrown out with Edwards and North Carolina.

The GOP might make the same error if it thinks that Romney will help them take Massachusetts or Michigan, or that Pawlenty will somehow turn Minnesota red.

Posted by: Vince 2L | Apr 8, 2008 10:36:53 AM

There's nothing wrong with choosing a running mate to carry his home state, but it has to be a state that's realistically winnable. Kerry had no chance of winning in the south. Had he chosen a moderate Ohio Democrat, John Kerry would probably be president today.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Apr 8, 2008 3:46:23 PM

John McCain has managed to systematically repudiate many of the positions that gained him 'independent' credit. He's now for torture, sides with agents of intolerance, and doesn't know Shia from Sunni.

Posted by: Pleasen No McCain | Apr 12, 2008 8:00:44 PM

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