Jim Webb went to the White House last September. The Virginia senator was meeting with the president to discuss Guantanamo detainees. The conversation soon shifted to healthcare. "I told him this was going to be a disaster," Webb recalls. "The president believed it was all going to work out."Jim Webb is full of caca!
Democratic leaders broadly believed it was all going to work out. The stimulus, healthcare, cap and trade. Americans were to come around to the left side.
We're talking about why voters didn't come around. Webb is weighing my report the morning after the election: Democrats won the smallest share of white voters in any congressional election since World War II.
"I've been warning them," Webb says, sighing, resting his chin on his hand. "I've been having discussions with our leadership ever since I've been up here. I decided to run as a Democrat because I happen to strongly believe in Jacksonian democracy. There needs to be one party that very clearly represents the interests of working people ... I'm very concerned about the transactional nature of the Democratic Party. Its evolved too strongly into interest groups rather than representing working people, including small business people."
This is a decades-old rebuke, one uttered today by moderate Democrats like Webb. The balkanized coalition never came to recognize the vice of its virtues. Diverse interests sometimes severed it from the majority's interests. That fissure moved political tectonics by the 1980s. And we came to know these migrating voters by the president who won their favor.
Webb is a Reagan Democrat who returned home. He was Ronald Reagan's Navy secretary. Almost two decades later, he was the Democrat who scrapped out a win in Virginia.
Webb seems less at home today. He identifies himself as a Democrat. But he has few Democratic leaders to identify with. He won't say this. His criticism is discernibly girdled. He begins to tell a story about a conversation with a Democratic leader and pulls back. "I don't want to talk about that," he mutters. "I have had my discussions. I've kept them inside the house. I did not want to have them affect this election, quite frankly. I didn't want to position myself in the media as a critic of the administration."
...Democrats looked like McGovern on Tuesday. It was that bad historically, for congressional elections. The election's passage has liberated Webb (a little). 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."
Jim Webb is all about Jim Webb. He ran as a Democrat because he's a liberal at heart who ran in 2006 based on opposition to President Bush and the Iraq War. It was a gravy train liberal Democrats ran on that year. Webb acted like a disrespectful dick to President Bush in late 2006 when Bush asked how Webb's son (who was serving in Iraq) was doing? Webb's voting record is anything but "moderate" or "conservative." He has a 100 percent rating from NARAL, 85 percent ADA, and 75 percent SEIU ratings.
We're not fooled Jim Webb. We'll remember your vote for Obamacare!
By the way, here's what Ronald Reagan thought of Jim Webb, straight from his diary (2/22/88).
Pres. (Navy) Sec. Webb resigned over Navy budget cuts. I don't think Navy was sorry to see him go.
Virginia won't be sorry to see you go, either, when your liberal ass gets voted out of office in 2012, Sen. Webb!