Saturday, May 31, 2008
Webb V-P Talk Buzz
Webb, of course, is an excellent choice...few are better. Nevertheless, one pesky thought keeps germinating to the top, Would Webb be happy even if he were to accept...???
James Fallows of The Atlantic makes an excellent point in the latest column on the issue:
And that's the crux of the matter. Jim Webb is too much of a free spirit and too darn good at his current job.
About Webb's value up through election day, I realize that there's an argument: Would his credentials on national security and as an undoubtedly tough southern Populist offset, among other problems, the perceived slight to older women among Hillary Clinton's base? It's like a vector problem in physics. My belief is that, purely as a matter of electoral math, Webb would help Obama much more than he would hurt. But I know that's a judgment call, with countless ramifications to argue out.
The problem is what would happen if he did help Obama win. Having first met Webb nearly thirty years ago -- and having co-written an Atlantic cover story with him, and having broken my rule against giving money to political candidates two years ago when he began his Senate run -- I can't imagine a job he would enjoy less than the vice presidency.
Jim Webb has arranged his life so as to maximize his intellectual and personal independence, and minimize the things he "has" to do and the bosses he must answer to. Novelist, essayist, journalist, movie-maker -- through the two decades before his Senate race he's been his own boss as much as possible, and has clearly relished saying exactly what he believes. The federal government office that most nicely matches his previous life is the one he now holds: as a U.S. Senator. Especially a Senator of the model Webb has described as his ideal: Daniel Patrick Moynihan. There are still lots of things Webb "has" to do -- fundraising, constituent service, party efforts -- to maintain this role. But in the big scheme of things, not that many.
Webb -- who has not endorsed either Clinton or Obama - has often said during his recent VP mentioning-boomlet that he thinks he could help a new Democratic president best by staying in the Senate. (And holding that Virginia seat for the Democrats.) Whether or not that answer is coy, I think it's absolutely correct. He's a great person for the Senate; the Senate is a great place for him, and I hope it will be for a long time to come.
Keep Jim Webb in the Senate!