Jim Webb

Webb Walks Away With It


I just got out of Senator-elect James Webb's victory rally, held in one of the many artificial town squares in the strongly Democratic city of Arlington. Right beside me, by coincidence, were American Conservative editor Scott McConnell and the magazine's Dan McCarthy (a recent Reason contributor). The libertarian-paleoconservative alliance held; delight at the Democrats' victory was overflowing. "I haven't been this emotional about an election since Giuliani won," McConnell said.

The crowd swelled as Webb made his delayed way to the square. Whoever runs "Arab Americans for Webb" (I think it's the anti-matter Charles Johnson) quickly dispatched his stock of signs, as bright-eyed white people hoisted them high. "Indian Americans for Webb" milled around right next to "real Virginians for Webb" (two Macaca references within two square yards!) next to a thicket of "Veterans for Webb." When the man arrived, he happily plunged into the crowd, shaking hands and posing for photos for a good four minutes while the national media set up their shots.

When Webb appeared onstage next to Chuck Schumer, it was hard to grasp that this guy actually beat George Allen. Schumer's reptilian charm is familiar enough from his appearances on every cable news show. But Webb? No charisma whatsoever. Nothing like a politician's charisma. Onstage he talks like a celebrity awkwardly trying to end a conversation with a fan who has all his merchandise, rotating 90 degrees left and right, gripping the microphone stand-up comic style. The only rousing moment came when he hoisted up his son's combat boots, the boots he'd worn in a deliberate contrast with faux-cowboy Allen, for the entire campaign. "The campaign is OVER!" Webb said; that got cheers from Democrats who had been on pins and needles for two days.

But like I said, the man is wonderfully shy and stolid as a public speaker. That he won against a legitimate charmer like George Allen is a testament to the strength of the anti-war message and of the degree to which Allen alienated most of the state. Remember, Webb didn't just defeat Allen—he held off a Green spoiler named Gail Parker. The (by all appearances insane) activist for "more high speed rail in Virginia" pulled about three times as many votes as separated Webb and Allen. Add her votes to Webb's and a solid 51 percent of the state handed its votes over to the anti-war left*, 24 months after giving George W. Bush a 10-point victory.

* The war was not actually a Parker issue—like I said, she's insane—but it's not too much to assume lefty anti-war voters who couldn't choke down Webb punched her name on the ballot.

NEXT: Michael Medved Shits Himself Again...

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. well, i voted for him so it was nice. still don’t see why libertarians on here like him so much. i like him, he seems smart and i voted for him for that reason and for “checks and balances” mainly. i’m glad he won though.

  2. Looking for (yet more?) entertainment from this race, I read the link about Gail Parker. I’m not sure why anyone would think she is insane. A single-issue dork, yes, but not insane.

    And cry me a river about a 30-minute commute. You Virginans don’t *know* from commute. Takes me an hour and a half to get to work, uphill both ways, from my shoebox in the middle of the freeway.

  3. Okay, so the guy is as dull as a box of rocks, but you have to admit, there isn’t a US Senator with a hotter looking wife.

  4. Were you guys just as “emotional” about it when Webb promised to vote for a hike in the Federal minimum wage?

    The campaign was crappy on both sides, the candidates were crappy on both sides–and I wonder why I’m already disappointed with my new Senator-elect.

  5. Way to bury the lede, Dave.

    Tell us more about these town squares.

  6. I doubt Allen will concede with dignity. He’ll contest, whine about recounts and recanvassing, and be nothing but a Sore Loserman(c)

    (c) Sore Loserman is copyright 2000 by the Republican National Committee

  7. i’m not so quick to count the guy out. i think webb has intregrity and could do a good job. but i could be fooled.

  8. allen is used to winning and being popular so i’m sure i’m sure he’s not going to take this well.

  9. I doubt Allen will concede with dignity. He’ll contest, whine about recounts and recanvassing, and be nothing but a Sore Loserman(c)

    I can’t stand Allen as much as the next guy, but didn’t he already concede a few hours ago (hence the Webb victory rally)?

  10. I’m thrilled that Republicans can’t give us their kind of abuse in Congress for the next two years. After you’ve been beaten in one place, you want to get beaten in another so the original bruises have a chance to heal.

    You know, when you’re an enemy combatant like Medved thinks we are.

  11. For me this whole election came down to “hot wife” vs. “light rail”.

  12. Arlington is an unincorporated county, not a “city” – democratic or otherwise.


  13. You actually think that a vote for the blood-and-soil Southerner Webb was a vote for the “anti-war left”? Unbelievable. No wonder libertarian politics has done so well, with followers so deluded as this…..

  14. Matt,
    I suggest you read Webb’s own words on the matter. Is he more “anti-war” than Allen, yes. Is he calling for immediate pullout, no, but you take the lesser of two evils when you have to.

  15. Courthouse Arlington might be a fake town square or whatever, but it is actually pleasant, and makes Arlington a nice place to live. I never had a car there, and never wanted one. The restaurants and bars far away from the Courthouse thing were much better and more interesting, but I still liked the Courthouse mall/square thing for the movie theaters, coffee, etc.

  16. And cry me a river about a 30-minute commute. You Virginans don’t *know* from commute.

    And you don’t know from Virginia. The only Virginians who have 30-minute commutes are folks in Arlington who work either there or downtown DC. Plenty of folks here have 1+ hour commutes, with some of the kamikaze drivers who moved to the far exurbs (Warrenton, Fredericksburg) have 3+ hour commutes.

    Me? I swallow my intense dislike of crowds every morning and get on the Metro.

  17. Damn straight, I don’t know my Virgina. I’m actually going to DC this winter, though, so I’ll get to experience crowds and congestion in cold weather, as opposed to hot dry weather.

    I’m actually going to miss Allen in the news. He and his “entourage” had become downright entertaining, in a Mike Tyson train-wreck kind of way. At heart, though, I’m sorry their constituents ended up with a circus campaign. I felt shame on behalf of my fellow Californians (that they apparently didn’t bother to feel themselves) when our gubernatorial recall turned into a media fiesta.

  18. Wow, what a coincidence–Angry White Man wins and an “American Conservative” editor was on hand. Such a grand alliance

  19. “I haven’t been this emotional about an election since Giuliani won,” McConnell said.

    He meant that he wanted to puke; right? Giuliani is an advocate of big government and an interventionist foreign policy. Giuliani doesn’t sound like the kind of guy that American Conservative could possibly dig.

  20. Like somebody said at Jim Henley’s site, I’m waiting to hear conservatives complain about Reagan’s Navy Secretary winning an election.

  21. If Arlington has many town squares, artificial or not, it’s news to me. The Courthouse development, where the photo was taken, has an outdoor plaza area of sorts and that’s about it. Most of the more urbanized part of the county, the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, has nothing approaching a town square and, excepting some planned open space in new construction in Shirlington, there is even less evidence of anything worthy of the name in South Arlington. Rosslyn is a pedestrian nightmare deserted after dark, Crystal City was designed for people to wander underground corridors, Columbia Pike is stuck in the 1950s, etc. Of course, one could quibble about what counts as an “artificial town square,” but unless any bit of plaza in front of an office building counts, Arlington ain’t got ’em.

    Not only is Arlington a county and not a city, the term “strongly Democratic” is also at least a little misleading. Democrats have had complete control of Arlington for decades. (The occasional Republican accidentally elected to the County Board or School Board aside, this is because board elections are at-large and staggered, so the Democrats can always count on a core of around 1/3rd the voting population and roughly half of the rest.) One might as well say D.C. is “strongly Democratic” or that Paris is “heavily populated by French people (except in August.)”

    Why do I bother with this trivia? Because, almost inevitably, whenever a reporter writes about something I know something about he gets the facts wrong. Maybe not importantly, but even so, it does lead to a certain general skepticism about the Fourth Estate.

  22. I doubt Allen will concede with dignity. He’ll contest, whine about recounts and recanvassing, and be nothing but a Sore Loserman(c)

    (c) Sore Loserman is copyright 2000 by the Republican National Committee


    No, no, no. Sore Loserman? is a trademark. Or it was, anyhow. The mark’s been abandoned. It looks like an individual grabbed the trademark, by the way, not the RNC. Of course, who knows?

    Remember, copyright protects expression, trademarks protect brand identity (a “source identifier”, if you will). More or less.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.