He's exactly what the Democratic Party needs to woo back, the Reagan Democrats who deserted our party in droves after the Viet Nam War and at the advent of the culture wars. These were the blue collar and lower middle-class Democrats who thought their party was leaving them behind to join the pot-smoking, wine sipping and quiche and brie eating elites. Ok, so that might be an unfair characterization of what was really happening in the Democratic Party. But when the McGovernites took over, with their anti-war rhetoric and affirmative action stance, it seemed to the blue collar, union member, Roman Catholic ethnic groups that had composed the party as part of the Roosevelt coalition that their party was veering off too far to the left.
In the interests of full disclosure, I was a McGovernite and an anti-war activitist at the time. In fact, I was a small-town local leader of an anti-war group. So, I'm not pointing fingers at anybody but myself here. And by the way, if we had to do it all over, I probably would do much the same thing all over again. Because a lot of what we fought for then, in the historic context of the 60s, 70s and early 80s, were actually the right things to do back then. But they did alienate a lot of blue collar allies who were genuinely concerned about national defense and security, cultural mores, and felt that quotas of any sort were harmful to them.
However, the dawn of the 21st Century has seen a sea change and many once-Reagan Democrats are ready to come home. Jim Webb, former Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan Administration, is running for the Senate in Virginia. His Republican opponent, George Allen, was recently described by Stephen Colbert, on the Colbert report, as "dumb as a doorpost." Trust me, that was a spot on observation. The sitting senator from Virginia is both dumb and divisive. When he was governor of Virginia, he once said of Democrats, "I'd like to shove their soft teeth down their whiny, liberal throats."
This is not a man who is going to bring much needed civility back to Congress. Nor is he likely to provide the oversight this country so desperately needs to the White House.
Jim Webb, on the other hand, describes himself as a moderate who is interested in restoring the Constitutional balance of power to Congress. In addition, as a former Marine hero, who has seen combat, his criticism of the Bush Administration's bungling missteps on national security issues is not mere academic theory. He knows the reality on the ground. For a brief interview with him that appeared in lowkell's diary on the March 14th Daily Kos, go here.