Lest any of my readers (haha, it’s funny because there aren’t any) think that I started this blog solely to dump on Republican presidential candidates, here is one for my side of the aisle. Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb announced that he is running for president against Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Lincoln Chafee and Martin O’Malley. Webb is entering the race as a somewhat more conservative Democrat than the rest of his opponents, although he certainly fits in with the Democratic Party more-so than the Republican Party (it should be noted that he did serve as the Secretary of the Navy under Republican President Ronald Reagan). That of course is no surprise to anyone familiar with his dedication to military service, as he served from his immediate graduation from the Naval Academy in 1968.
Webb served as the Senator from Virginia from 2007-2013 and was elected by a narrow margin (which is interesting considering that 2006 was an excellent year for Democrats as they took over the Senate and House of Representatives). He staunchly opposed the War in Iraq, the bush Tax Cuts of 2001 and 2003, the NATO invasion of Libya in 2011, and in the past has opposed certain types of gun control (it’s unclear at the moment if he supports the only type on gun control with any chance of passing at the moment, which is increased background checks). During his tenure in the Senate, he supported Obamacare, the Stimulus Package in 2009, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill and a bill that ended the Fiscal Cliff debate by increasing taxes on those making $450,000 (annually) or higher. What is unclear (at least from what I can tell as there are no stances on his campaign website) is the following:
-Immigration: Webb makes no (recent) mention of this issue and it is not listed on his campaign website. He has been skeptical of immigration in the past, but the Democratic Party has significantly changed on this issue. Hilary (among other candidates) has endorsed both a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as well as increased work permits and green cards. It is unclear if Webb will take this route or if he will buck the trend that his party is taking on this issue.
-Iran: In this interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews from a month ago, he and Webb discuss China and Iran. I’m still unsure why everyone is stoking hysterics about China (kidding, yes I do it’s because of their economy), but with the Iran deal going on right now, Webb should be discussing the parameters of a deal that he would like to see (assuming he does want to see one develop). During the interview he only spoke of not “acquiescing” to Iran and was weary of their grwoing influence in the region.
-TPP: For anyone not familiar, this is an acronym for the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, otherwise known as a Free Trade deal with partnering Asian countries. In the same interview mentioned above, Webb only insists that he has “questions” about it, he wants Congress to actually vote on it, and wants to see the full bill before giving an opinion on it. For anyone not familiar with political-speak 101, this means that he wants to see how the general populace feels about the bill before getting into a debate with his fellow Democratic candidates.
It is also interesting that on his campaign website he did mention an increasingly hot (and bi-partisan) topic: criminal justice reform. We can also assume based on his website that he wants an infrastructure bill to be put forward. Again, the lack of specifics is going to hurt him if he honestly wants a shot at winning this nomination.
My take: Webb doesn’t have a shot at winning this nomination. I like him personally and I think if there is an “alternative to Hilary”, he should be it. However, the Democratic Party base is going to be skeptical of many of his stances particularly because he is looking to rebirth the “Jackson roots” of the Democratic Party by focusing on “white, working class people.” The new Democratic Party coalition is heavily focused on huge minority turn-out to the polls, and Hilary Clinton seems to be the only one who is utilizing that approach. I do hope that he eventually gets a role in the Clinton Administration as he is an admirable public servant who I think would also make a good president.