Jim Webb, an eccentric, anti-war, Ronald Reagan–quoting ex-senator from Virginia, is garnering attention as a possible presidential contender on the Democrat side. Because I'm still desperatley/delusionally clinging to the hope that someone less contemptible than Hillary Clinton could earn the Democratic nomination, I enjoyed The Washington Post's profile of Webb, who is seriously considering a 2016 White House bid despite the fact that most experts don't think he has a chance.
Webb's experience in the Senate is sparse—he served one term after defeating Republican George Allen in 2006—but he's also a Vietnam War vet who served as assistant secretary of defense and Navy secretary during the Reagan administration and was tossed about as a vice-presidential pick in 2008. "We want to see if there's a support base from people who would support the programs that we're interested in pursuing," said Webb, 68, announcing potential presidential aspirations at a National Press Club speech last week.
And what programs would those be? One of the things Webb is most well-known for is his anti-war stance, and this may be where he's "uniquely positioned as a disruptive force on issues where many Democrats consider Clinton compromised," the Post notes.
"Remember, one of the reasons Obama did so well in Iowa was because he said he would end the wars," said Marcos Rubinstein, who directed antiwar Democrat Dennis Kucinich's 2008 presidential campaign in Iowa. "That is why he was able to beat Clinton, and Iowa remains full of Democrats who are looking for a peaceful message."
In his speech last week, Webb attacked the Obama administration's Middle East policy, citing it as one of the main reasons for his return to political life:
"If you go back and look at the remarks I was making from the time this administration got involved in the Arab Spring, I said it was an unprecedented use of presidential power—no treaties, no Americans attacked, no imminent threat of attack, no Americans to be rescued," Webb said. "Secretary Clinton and I have worked well together, but the Arab Spring is a different question. .?.?. This administration, collectively, made some very bad decisions, and they now have to climb out of a deep hole."
Critiques of presidential power from a Democrat? Be still my heart! This "redneck regal" liberal is also an advocate of gun rights and a supporter of criminal justice reform. In the Senate in 2009, he introduced a bill calling for a serious re-evaluation of our nation's drug and criminal justice policies. (Irrelevant but interesting: He's also a fiction author and wrote the story for the 2000 film Rules of Engagement.)
Webb is still a Democrat, of course—"economic fairness" is among his causes—but he seems to actually have principles, too, which is so much more than we can say for Clinton and, at least anymore, President Obama. If nothing else, it would be nice to see Webb widening the scope of primary-season discourse and taking Clinton to task for her war-hawk ways.