Thursday, May 29, 2008

All Jim Webb All The Time


So apparently the clamor from people who post words on the intertubes regarding Virginia Senator Jim Webb as a Obama's VP pick has reached a fever pitch... this was more or less predictable because he just released a book (a good book even), the timing of which may or may not have been coincidental... and the fact that the very people whom Obama has had a lot of trouble getting to vote for him (white working class Appalachians) happen to be mainly of an ethnic group Jim Webb has some affection for (and connection to). He also has a chest full of medals, though President Kerry knows that hasn't always helped.

I've been pretty pro Webb here, though I can't say I know a ton about him(more on that in a bit)... and I also can't say I really buy into the idea that people in Kentucky and West Virginia who won't vote for Obama are going to be swayed by Jim Webb standing next to the black man... but being a junior Senator and reformed Republican he just seems to fit neatly into Obama's message. Obama's appeal to independents and left leaning Republicans seems to have weakened of late, and Jim Webb's profile seems to reinforce the case that the Democrats are the party of everyone who doesn't want 4 more years of Bush policies (which is everyone except the people who read NRO). He's opposed the war from the beginning, and showed foresight in predicting a protracted guerrilla campaign when some people were predicting puppy dogs and ice cream. I certainly appreciate the idea of putting adults back in charge of our foreign policy and being able to completely hang Iraq around John McCain's neck (something that would be a little harder if the VP had supported the war). There is absolutely no reason for Democrats to cede ground on foreign policy any longer, and both Obama and Webb seem ready to make that argument in a way (I hope) the American people will listen to.

On the other hand, I've also been open to the possibility of a "unity ticket" and had some fears that there is a sizable chuck of Hillary Clinton supporters who could indeed sit home in November if she is seen to have been treated unfairly. KathyG guesting at Matt Yglesias's blog brings up, I think, the biggest problem in this regard(which I was unaware of) with picking Webb over Clinton... he was very stridently against women serving in the military... it should be noted that this was 30 years ago, but he also doesn't appear to have been very supportive of the victims of the Tailhook sexual abuse scandal much more recently. I don't think anyone thinks he's a raging misogynist... and in the end he's Pro Choice and a damn sight better for Feminism than John McCain... but given all this, he doesn't exactly seem like the best choice to ameliorate the pain of Hillary Clinton supporters... more like a bit of a slap in the face to be honest.

This is why I agree with Jason Zengerle at TNR, that Obama at least has to offer the position to Clinton before he can select Webb (or anybody really - but Webb especially). Once the magic number is reached (by the end of the next week hopefully), Obama probably needs to publicly ask her to be his running mate even if it's complete theater. I don't think she's the optimal choice for any number of reasons, but you at least have to give the appearance of having her turn down the job before you can go in a different direction.

photo by flickr user carobe used under a Creative Commons license