Since Jim has raised only ,000 for his re-election run it should come as no surprise he’s pitching in the towel. He was too sensible to be happy in the role of politician and his years as an author allowed his mind to function too well. Real politicians are dry, single level charcters who find a cushy spot to rest and hang there to the end. Jim Webb has a lot of life to live and enjoy and even though we will miss him we wish him God Speed. Also happy birthday. Jim turns 65 today.
One of the most compelling figures in the Democrat’s Senate caucus won’t seek re-election. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., will retire after one term.
It’s tough to imagine Democrats having trouble fielding a candidate to replace Webb. Democrats had a rotten 2009 and a rotten 2010 in Virginia, and they’re fighting uphill to hold the State Senate this year. But former Gov. Tim Kaine, now DNC chairman (yes, he presided over those bad years), only ruled out a bid when failure to do so would have fired up speculation about Webb. A November 2010 poll had Kaine slightly outperforming Webb in a race against George Allen; Kaine, unlike Webb, will not have to worry about money. And any Democrat in the New South next year will have a second surge of African-American Obama voters boosting his chances.
So I’m much less interested in that, much more interested in Webb’s short career as a senator. He was one of the least understood “stars” in the upper House. When he returned from Vietnam and attended Georgetown Law, he was deeply offended by liberal anti-war sentiment. “I’m one of these people,” he told Tim Russert in 2006, “who — there, there aren’t many of us — who can still justify for you the reasons that we went into Vietnam, however screwed up the strategy got.” He joined the Reagan administration, and after he left it (in a disagreement over shrinking the Navy, which he opposed), he mostly endorsed Republicans. He only turned on the party during the run-up to the War in Iraq. He wrote an op-ed opposing the war in 2002.
The connotations of “a MacArthurian regency in Baghdad” show how inapt the comparison is. Our occupation forces never set foot inside Japan until the emperor had formally surrendered and prepared Japanese citizens for our arrival. Nor did MacArthur destroy the Japanese government when he took over as proconsul after World War II. Instead, he was careful to work his changes through it, and took pains to preserve the integrity of Japan’s imperial family. Nor is Japanese culture in any way similar to Iraq’s. The Japanese are a homogeneous people who place a high premium on respect, and they fully cooperated with MacArthur’s forces after having been ordered to do so by the emperor. The Iraqis are a multiethnic people filled with competing factions who in many cases would view a U.S. occupation as infidels invading the cradle of Islam.
Indeed, this very bitterness provided Osama bin Laden the grist for his recruitment efforts in Saudi Arabia when the United States kept bases on Saudi soil after the Gulf War.
In Japan, American occupation forces quickly became 50,000 friends. In Iraq, they would quickly become 50,000 terrorist targets.
It was on the basis of that essay and his biography that liberals, especially liberal bloggers, recruited Webb as a U.S. Senate candidate in 2006. People constantly forget that liberals did this — it didn’t make sense that the liberals at Daily Kos would be enraptured by the author of an essay about why “Women Can’t Fight.” But Webb found the right political moment, one in which liberals prioritized an end to the war over almost anything else. He wore a pair of his son’s combat boots throughout the campaign; I was at his victory celebration, when he lifted the boots and said, with obvious delight, “the campaign is over!” He defeated George Allen (thanks to some self-inflicted wounds) when it was tough to imagine anyone else doing it.
The 2008 buzz over Webb as a possible VP candidate for Obama never made sense to me. Like I said, he had found a moment — the moment was over as the Iraq War faded as an issue. He obviously cared less about politicking than almost anyone else with his level of prominence. And in important ways, he was not a “progressive” — he was a populist. His big issues were economic opportunity, prison reform, and aid for veterans, and on at least the last issue he was very successful, passing a new GI Bill in 2008.
But he hated the health care debate, even though he voted for the bill. He’s privately raised issues throughout Barack Obama’s tenure. Some frustration is tactical. He told Rahm Emanuel last June that the president should provide a “very specific format” for his vision of healthcare reform. It would have offset the, in Webb’s words, “complex amorphous leviathan that bubbled up out of five committees.”
“A lot of people in this country, when they look up here, they want to see leadership. They want to see credibility. And they are not always the same thing,” Webb says. “The healthcare issue really took away a lot of the credibility of the new leadership–Obama particularly–the Reid-Pelosi-Obama trio.”
The image that emerges: A man who passionately cared about ending the war in Iraq and was guardedly optimistic about making the economic playing field flatter, then got to Washington and discovered how much more he liked being a writer.
ACVDN Bottom Line. For a short period of time we were more than adequately represented by a thoughtful and honest gentleman. You could call it Virginia’s Camelot. Thank You Jim.
ACVDN Predicts, Former Gov. Tim Kaine will be the Democratic candidate and next Senator from Virginia.
House GOP Leaders Blindsided By Patriot Act Defeat
If the House’s new Republican leaders were going to fail to pass any particular piece of legislation, you wouldn’t expect it to be an extension of several Patriot Act provisions.
The Patriot Act, a Bush Administration legacy, has typically been more strongly supported by Republicans than Democrats.
But the House leadership was blindsided Tuesday evening when a Patriot Act extension was defeated.
Several new GOP lawmakers from the Tea Party wing who, in principle, are suspicious of federal power, joined other
Republicans as well as House Democrats to torpedo the extension.
The legislation failed on a 277-148 vote, coming seven votes shy of the two-thirds margin needed to pass bills under House rules normally reserved for non-controversial legislation.
It was the biggest defeat for the House’s new GOP managers since they took charge last month. Republicans will spin this as a victory.
House Republicans vow to bring the bill up again under chamber rules that would require just a simple majority. The Obama Administration supports the extension. It wouldn’t hurt Obama to re-think some of the things he supports.
The FBI’s authority to conduct some kinds of surveillance and get business records expires at the end of February. So the defeat of a House plan to extend the deadline until the end of the year threatens to throw the law enforcement community into disarray.
A GOP aide blamed the situation on new lawmakers who don’t understand the Patriot Act and on Tea Party favorites who reject broad federal powers. Could it be that after a decade of living under the Patriot Act, these new members understand it only too well? The Senate will try to push forward its version of the plan next week.
Now the question is whether Republicans in the House can work with Democrats in the Senate with only two weeks of room to maneuver. Republicans haven’t worked with Democrats for the last 10 years but you can bet the store the Democrats will fall in and help save face for the Republicans.
Aides to Republican leaders also blamed Democrats who had voted for such an extension during the last Congress but didn’t this time. Finally and for unknown reasons Democrats grow spines. Could it be the smaller number of Blue Dogs fouling the House?
They also blamed House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) whose job (hobby might be a better fit) it is to count the votes before the actual vote and twist enough arms to gain passage. McCarthy is no different from most Republicans, they all have trouble with math and numbers.
From National Journal:
“I am surprised that so many Democrats who supported an extension of these very same provisions last Congress suddenly
changed their votes,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas. “President Obama supports a
reauthorization of these important national security tools. And the House bill provides Congress with the opportunity to engage in a thorough review of the provisions as we consider a longer reauthorization. It’s unfortunate that partisan politics seems to have prevented so many Democrats from doing what’s best for America’s national security.”
GOP aides, however, were pointing the finger at House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. Aides said McCarthy failed to
whip the vote, which led to the embarrassment of the bill falling short and leaders being caught off guard.
For Democrats, it was an opportunity for a little payback, to bloody the noses of the House’s new GOP managers. But the vote also demonstrated the impact of the House losing so many of its more centrist Democrats. Some of those who were defeated in the mid-terms or retired would have likely provided the necessary votes to pass the extension. But they weren’t there.
Instead, the House Democrats who remain are more liberal. And they could hardly contain their joy at the House leadership’s failure to pass the bill.
An excerpt from The Hill:
Veteran Democratic Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) exited the House chamber boasting that the GOP unsuccessfully held the scheduled 15-minute vote open for a total of 35 minutes to twist enough Republican arms to change the outcome.
“They didn’t have the votes! They kept trying to get them to switch, but couldn’t get them,” Frank exclaimed as he walked through reporters in the Speaker’s Lobby, which is just off the House floor.
Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay (Mo.) laughed as he told The Hill, “We’re so happy, I’m so happy. I voted against it. They tried
to get enough Rs to switch their votes, because the Tea Party voted ‘no’ also… but it wasn’t enough.”
Is this enough to make John Boehner cry or what?