Saturday, June 24, 2006

Jim Webb Biting the Hand That Endorsed Him?

In today’s Washington Post, there’s an article in the Metro section about Jim Webb saying that he would not have voted for John Kerry’s proposal to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq in a year.

Here’s a quote from Rosalind S. Helderman’s article.
“Webb, whose early opposition to the war has been a driving force behind his candidacy, said he opposes setting deadlines for redeployment and instead suggested that with his national security experience, he could have persuaded Kerry (D-Mass.) and other Democrats not to pursue the Senate vote. Webb is a former Marine and served as secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan.”

Webb said, in the article:
"I don't think an artificial timeline emanating from the Congress is a workable concept," Honestly, if I were in the Senate, I would have been able to talk to people about perhaps different ways of looking at this."

George Allen’s campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, promptly jumped at the chance to go negative and accuse Webb of “flip flopping” because Webb dared to go public with his disagreement with some Democrats.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Webb is not a flip flopper. His strategy for how to get out of the mess in Iraq has been posted on his website for a while. It involves engaging other Middle Eastern countries who have a stake in stabilizing the region and bringing in participation from our global allies who also are interested in seeing that area of the world stable and free of terrorism. He’d like to see a true coalition committed to a responsible withdrawal that leaves the world safer, not more vulnerable to terrorism.

Although Webb argued even before the invasion that Iraq was the wrong war, once we were there, he never said anything about timelines or cutting and running. As a former secretary of the Navy and Annapolis graduate, he knows that would be an irresponsible solution to the mess this reckless administration got us into.

Wadhams and Allen know Webb’s real position. However, they will try to paint him with the same tired slogan that he is just another flipping flopping Democrat. But the paint on that brush faded long ago. It’s an old, dried up argument that won’t work against Webb. The truth is that publicly airing his disagreement over policy with Kerry was the best thing Webb could have done for himself in Virginia.

He just established himself as an independent thinker who will stand up to even those whose support he needs. He’s not a yes man. I think his campaign staff needs to drive that point home in their campaign message. Unlike George Allen, who voted 97 percent of the time with this unpopular president, Webb will fight for what he knows to be right whether it’s the convenient thing to do or not.

That will play very well in Virginia, where voters are increasingly independent-minded moderates. In fact, staying true to what you know to be right would play well anywhere in the country. It’s what Democrats have been begging their leaders to do for a long time. And it’s what voters will reward in general elections.


Anonymous said...

Ummm...I think you should read the Kerry plan that Webb said he was against. Kerry's bill stated the same thing as Webb's website. It called for a summit for all nations involved...It mirrors exactly what Webb has said. The bottom line is Webb said he does not support the plan. He would have voted no just like George Allen.

Stomp Allen said...

anon 7:05 ummmmm, I think the whole point was the artificial timetables? Your spin doesn't add up.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Stomp Allen is right. Webb was against artificial timetables, which can be irresponsible.

Regardless of how misguided the invasion was, Colin Powell's famous pottery rule is correct. If you break it, you own it.

Bottom line is Iraq was not a threat to us and the decision to make a war of choice against it was poor judgment and bad military strategy.

Unfortunately, we created a destabilized country where the terrorists, who weren't there before, came flooding in. They are there now.

Extricating ourselves is going to be complicated. While we can't "stay the course" as the Bush administration urges, we also can't just pull out and leave the region destabilized.

It's going to be hard and the solution is going to be nuanced. The biggest problem with Bush and with George Allen is they famously "don't do nuance." That is the sign of a small and incurious mind.

We need people whose minds can embrace the larger picture and who can think logically and analytically. People who aren't afraid of complex and nuanced solutions.

Those people are Jim Webb, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and John Murtha, although they disagree about the timeline and some other details. Working together they would be able to hash out their differences and reach a solution that will make America stronger, not the whole world weaker.

Jim Webb deserves a chance to join them and other Democrats to be part of the solution.

liberalbanana said...

I really hate how right-wingers try to paint any Democrat who considers all of his options and then changes based on the current circumstances as a flip-flopper.

These are the kind of people we need more of in politics, those who stop to carefully consider their choices and then reroute as necessary to make the best decision.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Thank you Liberalbanana. I agree with you. I don't want somebody who is like a weather vane, that is somebody who will change direction to whichever way the winds of fashion and trendiness are blowing.

But I also do want somebody who isn't afraid to change his mind when the facts warrant it.

People who hold to an opinion stubbornly regardless of the facts are ideologues not idealists.

I'll follow an idealist but not an ideologue.