The Ludicrous Jim Webb Boomlet

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 20 2014 12:13 PM

The Ludicrous Jim Webb Boomlet

121173003-senator-jim-webb-gestures-during-a-meeting-with-thai
I'm very important, I promise.

Photo by Pornchai Kittisongsakul/AFP/Getty Images

Today, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb released his first straightforward memoir after a career of novels and historical tomes. In a stunning coincidence, when promoting the book on Diane Rehm's D.C. talk show, Webb did not rule out a 2016 run for president. The clip was passed around first, as far as I can tell, by the GOP operatives at America Rising—anything to make Democrats look to be in disarray.

Fittingly, none of the commentary that's followed has grappled at all seriously with what made Webb a political force in 2006, and what sidelined him (as he sidelined himself) after. "For a nation hungry for real leadership," writes Matt Lewis, "Webb's image as a competent, no-nonsense leader might resonate."

Uh-huh. We're talking about a Democratic primary. Webb would arrive in Iowa or New Hampshire with a record of offering criticisms of the party's strategy on taxes and health care without following through on an alternative. (He had previously warned his party to hold off on votes after Scott Brown was seated). Other senators have run with similar resumes, and Webb's version of populism is certainly compelling in a way that interest-group-based, mailing-list-based, MoveOn progressivism is not. But Webb would face his party's most credible-ever female candidate with an article titled "Why Women Can't Fight" on his CV; he is one year older than Hillary Clinton, when Clinton's age is sort of the best weapon Republicans have deployed against her.

Advertisement

And so the clash of interests continues—reporters, who want an exciting and unpredictable 2016 race to cover, and the reality that no one is equipped to peel voters away from Clinton.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.