Warning : politican ahead
This man is an experienced politician
Webb won't be a wallflower
Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 08:55:48 AM PST
The WaPo profiles Jim Webb.
At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.
"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.
"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.
"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House [...]
If the exchange with Bush two weeks ago is any indication, Webb won't be a wallflower, especially when it comes to the war in Iraq. And he won't stick to a script drafted by top Democrats.
"I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall," Webb said in an interview yesterday in which he confirmed the exchange between him and Bush. "No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I'm certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. [But] leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is."
In the days after the election, Webb's Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill went out of their way to make nice with Bush and be seen by his side. House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sat down for a lunch and photo opportunity with Bush, as did Democratic leaders in the Senate.
Not Webb, who said he tried to avoid a confrontation with Bush at the White House reception but did not shy away from one when the president approached.
The Washington Post doesn't include Webb's desire to slug the president. Which was endearing in its own right.
But the article goes on and on about how Webb might be a liability because, well, because he's not a "polished" politician.
If he's a "liability" (inside the DC bubble), it's because Webb has a well-developed bullshit detector (soldiers develop those really quickly) and will call b.s. when he sees it. We saw that about him from day one, and it's one of the reasons the netroots was so gung-ho on drafting him into the race and into his candidacy.
That's what I want in D.C. Not more too-slick, too-polished presidential wannabees who see the Senate as a stepping stone to the White House, thus afraid to show real leadership.
OK, Webb is not some naif from the far west, this is a man with an adroit political sense combined with character. He was one of the most important Secretaries of the Navy in the post-war period and is a Hollywood producer. He knows politics.
But let's be honest. Without George Allen imploding , he'd be writing another book.
The fact is that Webb will probably be better in office than running for it. He isn't too good at making nice with people, which isn't always a bad thing.
But let's not pretend that a Navy Cross -winning, Annapolis grad and former Navy Secretary is somehow unschooled in the ways of Washington or isn't polished enough to succeed. He suceeded in publishing and the movies with people who didn't agree with anything he stood for. This is the same man who opposed Maya Lin making the Vietnam Memorial, yet has an Asian-American wife. So let's stop pretending he's Mr. Smith going to Washington.
His one sin, if it is that, is to say what he thinks, once, it was that women didn't belong in the military. Now, it's time to get his kid home. And unlike George Allen, he has the capacity to grow up.
Webb will be right on some issues, wrong on others, but let's just say he's a smart man with a proven record of character.
posted by Steve @ 12:20:00 PM