Former Senator Jim Webb was something of a wallflower during last week’s Democratic debate, though not because he didn’t want to get out on the floor and dance. He said afterward that he believes the debate was rigged to favor Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, leaving the lesser known candidates — himself, Martin O’Malley, and Lincoln Chafee — confined to the sidelines. When the floor was his he seemed perturbed and complained that he wasn’t getting as much time as the leading candidates. “In that kind of environment, it was either going to be Mr. Angry or a potted plant,” said after the debate.
Some might argue that Webb didn’t get as much time as Clinton and Sanders because they’re top tier and he’s not. Certainly that’s true though it begs another question — why isn’t Webb top tier? He is, after all, a one-term senator, former Harvard fellow, author, journalist, and former Secretary of the Navy. The answer, I believe, is because the party has moved so far to the left. Try as he might to fit into the new Democratic Party, he still seems like a puzzle piece borrowed from another puzzle.
Jim Webb seemed more than a little incongruous standing on the stage next to the top contenders. The frontunner is Hillary Clinton, a former friend and acolyte of the Machiavellian political theorist Saul Alinsky. Raised in Chicago, she studied at Wellesley and Yale during the turbulent sixties and seventies. She defended the Black Panthers when they murdered one of their own on a suspicion that he was an FBI informer. After serving as first lady of the United States, she carpetbagged to New York to fill a vacating U.S. Senate seat. Her most serious challenger is New York-born Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist and senator from Vermont, the most left-wing state in the Union. He’s actually tacking to the left of the Alinsky fangirl and it seems to be working.
Clearly this isn’t your father’s Democratic Party. In 2015, the leading Democratic candidates are left and far left. They booed the Boy Scouts at their 2000 convention and God Himself at their 2012 convention. It’s really that bad.
Is it any wonder then that Webb, a gun-owning Marine Corps veteran of Scots-Irish descent hailing from a southern state, doesn’t fit in? There’s something recognizably American about Webb, and that doesn’t sit well with the Democratic base. Many of their recent candidates have had a European air about them, and a few have seemed like extraterrestrials.
Webb is no conservative, mind you, and I wouldn’t vote for him to walk my dog, but he was the most moderate candidate on the stage that night. When Clinton and Sanders were trying to one-up each other with who could articulate the most egregious offense against the Second Amendment, Webb actually defended Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms. When asked if “all lives matter” or “black lives matter,” Webb dissented from the group and said that “Every life in this country matters.” Whoa! No wonder he’s going nowhere in the jackass party, spewing hate speech like that. When Webb was asked which of his enemies he’s most proud of, he recounted an incident in Vietnam in which he killed an enemy soldier who tossed a grenade at him. He was engaging in a little well-deserved bragging, of course, highlighting his war hero credentials to win a few votes, though I don’t think he’ll win many with today’s Democrats. Most of them perceive that kind of talk as mere machismo.
Part of Webb’s problem is that his party is obsessed with identity politics. When seeking the Democratic nomination it helps to belong to some kind of victim class — to be a woman, a minority, or to sleep with people of your own sex. Being white and male doesn’t get you any points. Working class roots counts for something, though less and less with each passing year.
If you don’t fall into one of the recognized victims categories, the only way to create buzz among Democrats is to veer way, way left. That’s basically the Bernie Sanders approach. Sanders even quit the party and became an independent because he found the Democrats to be too cozy with big business. Which they are, of course. Though he still caucuses with the Democrats and seeks the nomination of their party, his stand against the Democratic Party earned him a lot of respect among the moonbat community.
Jim Webb has no future in this party because wing he represents — blue collar whites — is shriveled and dying. He’s made a point to stick up for that demographic group, arguing for example that affirmative action should consider economic circumstances rather than race. He contends that Democrats aren’t attuned to poor people’s problems when those poor people are white.
When running for Senate in 2006 Webb leveraged his support among Virginia’s substantial white working class to secure victory in a very close race. Webb is himself of Scots-Irish descent, though not from Appalachian Virginia. As the son of a career Air Force man, Webb grew up all over and thus can’t call anywhere home. He is nonetheless at ease speaking to southerners and the white working class, guys who drink macrobrewed beer in a can and guys who kill their dinner with a bow. He can walk into an American Legion and swap war stories with veterans at the bar. Joe Sixpack can relate to Jim Webb in a way that he cannot relate to a guy from Vermont who wants to take his legally purchased, fully licensed firearm.
But much like the late Rodney Dangerfield, Jim Webb “don’t get no respect!” in today’s Democratic Party. It’s almost as if their famed “big tent” is a sham, as if they apply “purity tests” to their candidates.
The problem with Jim Webb is that he’s outlived his usefulness and no one has the heart to break the bad news to him. The poor shlub made his entrance in 2006 when the Democrats desperately needed real life war heroes. They had had two bad election cycles in 2002 and 2004, due in part to the fact that fresh memories of 9/11 made many Americans unwilling to trust national security to the Democrats. Luckily for them the political winds were starting to shift as Americans’ patience wore thin with the sputtering Iraq War. The Democrats knew that if they were ever to turn an unpopular war to their advantage they would have to field candidates who could never be accused of being wimps and whose admiration for the military was beyond reproach. They needed square-jawed, red-blooded American men with honorable military service and the medals to prove it. In short, they needed Jim Webb.
But that was nearly ten years ago. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan both kinda-sorta over, the Democrats are free to be themselves again — angry women, effete men, elitist northeasterners, and gun grabbers.
Sorry Jim Webb, but there’s no room in this party for your kind. There used to be, in an age long since passed, but not anymore. Welcome to the Democratic (Socialist) Party. Like a container of spoiled sour cream that’s been hiding in the back of the fridge since who-knows-when, you’re past your expiration date. Prepare to be discarded.
Cross-posted at Patriot Update