Remember: Senator-elect Webb is his own man.

During the election, some Virginia Republicans confused Jim Webb with his supporters. Senator-elect Webb is a conservative Democrat. The man was a Republican until just a few years ago. His most vocal supporters consist largely of liberal Democrats, and this gave some people on the far left and far right the impression that he is a liberal Democrat.

Anybody expecting Senator-elect Webb to be a standard bearer for liberal values will be sorely disappointed. He will cast votes that will incense liberals. He will oppose good federal programs because there simply isn’t the money to pay for them. He will support expanded military spending in times of peace. Presumed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will no doubt have a tough time keeping Webb in line. He is, as he once said, “not a person who wears a bridle well.”

However, anybody who expects Senator-elect Webb to be a principled, moderate, thoughtful, independent-minded thinker will be very pleased. Anybody who wants Virginia to be the only state in the union with two former Secretaries of the Navy representing it in the Senate as vocal supporters of Oceana and all of our military facilities will be thrilled.

Bitter former supporters of Senator Allen would do well to take the next couple of months to take a few deep breaths, recognize that their assessment of Webb has not been entirely rational, open their minds, start treating Senator-elect Webb with the respect that’s due to his office, and then watch him in action in Washington. (That’s the same process that liberal Democrats may need to go through round about April.)

Open-minded Virginians have a real treat waiting for them in the form of Senator-elect Jim Webb.

47 thoughts on “Remember: Senator-elect Webb is his own man.”

  1. Knowing that Webb is a conservative is what has allowed me to maintain a serendipitous outlook on the whole thing.

    That, and Jeffords losing.

    And Lieberman winning.

    Okay, three things helped me maintain serenity.

  2. Waldo,

    I agree with what you’re saying about Webb. On the left-to-right political spectrum, there’s no reason to expect this 60-year-old man to suddenly morph into a New Deal liberal, or take orders from Ted Kennedy.

    However, I agree with Webb that the decades-old concepts of liberal and conservative are almost useless today. So, when Webb refuses to go along with Bush’s absolutely bogus brand of conservatism and Bush’s jingoistic foreign policies, I expect many of the modern Republican flock to continue to bash Webb as a lefty.

    And, if you’re hoping the bitter bloggers who attacked Webb’s writings as pornography — who called him a “pervert” — to now take a deep breath, so as to become rational, fair-minded people, well … good luck with that.

  3. That, and Jeffords losing.

    But, Jeffords didn’t run for re-election. He retired.

    Now, you’re down to two things.

  4. You’re right, Jim will certainly be his own man. he’s certainly not going to be a checklist Democrat. I like his free-thinking and I’m glad he’s a Democrat, but some of my fellow Dems might be a tad disappointed by his votes. Nevertheless, I think he is one of our brightest and best and will serve both Virginia and the Country very well.

  5. As one of the “lefties” who supported Webb…I knew all along that Webb was not liberal…but he’s a principled, ethical, man who cannot be bought out by special interests….”Lefties” do take into account the “character” of their representative. I believe Webb will go along way to assisting Americans with no voice (middle/working class) get a voice….I think he will be a real asset to leveling the playing field and providing sound oversight on our out of control corporations. He’s going to insist on accountability and go after some of the pigs who have been getting fat off the government feeding trough.

    He’s the right man at the right time.

    Thank heavens he has an open mind. I’m “hoping” he will be willing to budge some on the military budget thing. But if not…he’s still head and shoulders above the Allen type of politician….


  6. Waldo, I have to say that this does remind me a lot of the talk during the ’04 primaries, when there were conservatives writing “ooh, those lefties are going to be in for a shock when they find out Dean’s not really a liberal!” (at the same time they were trying to paint him as an extreme liberal, of course.) I agree that there will be some disappointment, but I don’t think most of Webb’s liberal supporters have many illusions about his politics. There will be the normal situation where people tend to unconsciouly assume that the candidate they support shares all their beliefs, but I don’t think it will be much greater than normal. And come on, anyone who’s liberal in Virginia has long since come to terms with the fact that someone who can win a statewide race is going to be more conservative than them. We may have some explaining to do to the people who donated from across the country, but I’m well-accustomed to making statements that begin “Remember, this is Virginia…”

  7. And Lieberman winning.

    Yeah, I’m surprised everyone’s putting Lieberman in the Democratic column when it comes to deciding “party majority”. Yes I know he’s said he will “caucus” with the democrats. But most of his voting record is with the Republicans, which is why they didn’t throw any money to their candidate in that race.

  8. Sorry but I will never be happy Webb won. I also highly doubt this man is a conservative, at best he is a left leaning moderate. I do hope you are right that this big hot head Webb will behave, but I seriously doubt it. As for Lieberman I like that man and am glad to say there will be one Democrat that has honor.I am not a right winger, just a very pro Military person.

  9. TL!! THANK YOU!! you made my point!!! I love it!!!! do you not realize he will not only be angry at my side? this is a man who is totally about himself. you are fooling yourself if you think he will only misbehave against Republicans. IF he is the conservative some on here think he is, he will give gray hair to your leadership. IF he is the Lib I think he is, he will want to be in the front and your leadership is not going to turn the reigns over to a freshman!! Oh this is GOING TO BE A BLAST!!! God Bless America!!

  10. What is a Conservative and what is a Liberal? The terms have been co-opted by the same people that brought us #1 debtor nation status, record budget deficits, anti-science, and an invasion of Iraq – all the time calling it “conservative”. I expect Jim Webb will make Liberal use of his fine, independent judgement while Conserving the American tradition of taking care of our least fortunate. And I celebrate the death of government by fear.

  11. However, I agree with Webb that the decades-old concepts of liberal and conservative are almost useless today.

    You’re right, of course — I’ve described him within an increasingly out-moded framework. What “conservative” meant five years ago is not at all what it means today. Anybody who is informed about Senator-elect Webb’s positions and believes him to be a “liberal” is so far off the liberal-conservative scale as to qualify as a radical.

  12. Well as always exchange of opinions is what makes this country great and yes I stand by that I think he is liberal. I think you will see this as he starts to vote, so resorting to name calling me a radical I will wear as a badge. I am entitled to my opinion, I did not nor will I call you a name. I stand by my belief he is liberal. The only issue I see him more conservative on is Military and I hope he stays there.

  13. “Radical” is not a dirty word, Lynne. If you have another word for what indicates farther to the right than mainstream Republicans, we can use that instead. if it would make you feel better. With far-left Democrats we’d describe them as “socialist.” What’s the equivalent for Republicans?

  14. well you assume I am to the right, I actually am a social moderate, very much so. I am however very conservative on fiscal issues. what offends me is you assuming I am a right winger, trust me if you knew me you would be laughing as hard as I am, that you have labeled me that.

  15. BTW I am allowed to dislike and not respect Webb and not be a right winger, if you don’t understand that then I am sorry

  16. yes he did and I love this!! the min I don’t agree with you and stand up for myself, you decide to resort to this. I was told this was a blog that both sides could would be heard, and a nice heated debate would occur, this however does not seem to be the case. since you have taken to try and make snide comments about my father, and labeling me, I will take this as no difference of thought is discussed or opinions are welcome

  17. Lynne, I’m not sure what you’re upset about; I’m not talking about you. I’m describing, as I wrote, those people who believe Senator-elect Webb is a “liberal.” Given that you described him as “a left leaning moderate,” I can’t see why you’re upset.

    Bubby was kidding with his comment. It’s just a joke.

  18. I find it rude,my opinion, I would not say rude things to him. I do think Webb leans left and I think your assesment is wrong, he will not be a free thinker.I think he will be a bully. I think Lieberman is a great guy who deserves more respect than Webb. I do think Webb will create non stop headaches for you guys. I am upset that labels are attached at all. as for socialists just because someone is far left doesn’t even mean they are socialists. I am a libertarian Republican and very proud of it.

  19. Lynne, I have to say you’re one of the more thoughtful and committed trolls I’ve seen. Excellent job.

    The point of two days ago was to regain the Senate. We did that. I know there will be some Democrats that will cause me some consternation. But, that’s something I’m used to. Think Landrieu in Louisiana, Nelson in Nebraska. I know they won’t agree with me a lot of the time, but I know they also need to get re-elected in their home states, and someone who agrees with me half of the time is FAR better than a Coburn or Brownback clone.

    It’s why I supported people like Harold Ford in Tennessee. This guy would have caused me no end of grief with his voting record. He ran a campaign more conservative than some Republicans in Virginia. But, when it comes to the most important vote of all, the vote for Majority Leader, he’d make the right choice.

    Surely, a procedural vote isn’t the most important issue that faces Americans. At least not on its face. But a majority leader Reid brings about a far different agenda than a majority leader McConnell (their most likely pick). It’s that one vote that determines which issues are discussed. In the last Senate, we had non-issues like the pledge of allegiance and flag burning take center stage. Now, with majority leader Reid, it will be issues like prescription drugs, student loan reform and lobbying reform. You know, stuff that actually matters.

    And, yeah, Jim Webb will piss me off from time to time. I know it’s coming. But I worked my ass off to get him elected not because I wanted a clone of my political beliefs, but I wanted a Senator who, at the very least, took his votes carefully and with much thought. I am convinced, Jim Webb is that man. And that will be a valuable part of the Democratic Caucus. Someone who is able, from time to time, to give a thoughtful counterpoint to the Democratic position, which will serve to make the Democratic position even stronger.

    I have my Senate liberals I can count on. Just looking at the new guys, it looks like Whitehouse, McCaskill and maybe Brown will fit that bill admirably.

    Looking back at the past. George Allen… one term. Chuck Robb… one term. Jim Webb is the kind of guy all Virginians will respect, and I believe he’ll be returned to the Senate as many times as he asks.

    I would work vigorously for the defeat of John Warner at any time, but I look forward to seeing these guys work together for at least two years. It’ll be a sight to behold.

  20. Dan, aside from you having to name call, you guys just seem to love that huh? I guess this TROLL as you so gentlemanly called me!! I love you guys who respect both sides and refuse to name call!!!!!!
    At least you are an honest lib. You stand by what you believe and fight for it,that I respect!!I disagree with Libs on almost all issues but unlike some I respect your right to voice them. and although it seems me fighting for what I believe in has reduced me to a TROLL, I will continue to fight for my side also!
    I don’t agree with everything the Republicans did and truth is some of them I not at all sorry to see them go!!
    I will stay committed to my beliefs and yes will laugh much tonight about being a TROLL!!!! thanks for your respectful ways!!! if you could just debate and stop with the name calling, I would respect you more, but if it so important to reduce it to that then more power to ya.

  21. “I actually am a social moderate, very much so. I am however very conservative on fiscal issues”

    I am surprised that you are then such a Webb hater and Allen supporter (by default?).

  22. VA thank you for a courteous comment!!! because you did that, I will answer it for you…honestly, it is personal with me, for reasons I won’t share. Having said that I don’t trust Webb, I think he is way to self serving and to much of a bully. here is something I guess many on the D side of the ailse don’t seem to understand. Many of us Republican women are very strong opininated women, that really don’t give a rats behind about some social issues. We care about fiscal, and believe in a hand up not a hand out. That is why I truly don’t appreciate the name calling, as I think it lowers not only the IQ but the decency of debate. We are all Americans that love our country, healthy debate is great.

  23. Oh and Waldo, as I stated earlier, I am not crying about some of the so called republicans getting the boot, when you spend like drunken sailors and then say you are for fiscal responsibilty,you deserve to be booted. As for Webb, trust me on this, if this man IS who YOU think he is, I will give him a good on ya as a Sen. I just don’t think it is so, but hey it won’t be the first time someone has surprised me!

  24. Waldo: With all due respect, who are all these people who believed Jim Webb was a “liberal?” I certainly never did. In fact, I have always seen Jim Webb as a fascinating, almost sui generis, non-politician politician. Jim Webb’s political philosophy is, in fact, neither “liberal” nor “conservative” in the way those terms are popularly construed.

    Who is Jim Webb? I would argue that he is part Andrew Jackson economic populist, part Teddy Roosevelt Progressive (plus writer and warrior), part Barry Goldwater libertarian, part Daniel Patrick Moynihan scholar/writer/intellectual, part Harry Truman “give ’em hell” reformer, and part Mark Warner/Tim Kaine “forward together” centrist. In sum, Jim Webb does not fit into any neat political boxes, which is one thing I love about him. This should be a fascinating 6 years in the U.S. Senate, as Jim Webb helps change American politics from the stale “red/blue” divisions and inane rhetoric (e.g, “cut and run,” “stay the course”) we have seen in recent years. – Lowell

  25. Great post, Lowell. I, too, am trying to figure this guy out and am hopeful that you are about “a fascinating 6 years in the U.S. Senate.” My early impression is that he best fits into what were once called “Scoop Jackson Democrats” – socially moderate to liberal and hawkish on foreign policy. I know, I know, he ran against the war in Iraq, but one can still support a muscular US foreign policy without supporting the idea of toppling a regime and leaving 150,000 US troops sitting around in the desert to get shot at for 4 years.

    I heard him on the radio yesterday talking about how the Reagan foreign policy appealled to him, but that he was concerned about a lack of “economic fairness” and “social justice” domestically. Now those are some buzzwords.

    Anyway, he’ll be interesting to watch.

  26. TL!! THANK YOU!! you made my point!!!

    Hi, Lynne,
    The thing is, I was never a huge Webb supporter. It had nothing to do with his credentials or his character — I like the man well enough and voted for him. But on a couple of questions I had the chance to ask him, he had no clue on the current policy.

    Let me clarify: I do not think he’s dumb, or even slow. I think it’s simply been a lack of exposure to a certain way legislators have of getting things done. He’s been in the military and in Admin — both arenas where there is a hierarchy and a decision-making person or body. He’s never held an elected position where he has to represent other people’s views, or spend hours wading through minutia to work out the implications and come up with the compromises that create good legislation and policy. I’m a bit of a policy wonk and I think that Webb has a very sharp learning curve ahead of him on that score.

    I think he’s going to be a maverick, guided by his own principles and not a platform or agenda handed to him by any coalition or party. My instincts tell me he’s got integrity, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing what those principles are in practice. Sure it’s a gamble, but I figure he cannot possibly do worse than the Republicans have over the past 6 years.

  27. Waldo: With all due respect, who are all these people who believed Jim Webb was a “liberal?”

    The average voter, or at least every average voter that I met. You and I are, of course, hyper-informed. Most folks going to the polls figure Democrat = liberal, Republican = conservative. That’s a correlation that has been hammer home by talking heads for decades. That can’t be undone with one candidate in one race. Now, one of the media talking points after this election is that this division may no longer be so, but I think it’ll take a few election cycles of that being so for the public to get the message.

  28. TL, I hope you are right but “history” with Webb tells me he is going to be the bully on the playground. I want you democrats on here to really understand what I am saying. I should be laughing my head off he is on your side, he could turn out to be a Zell Miller, a total nightmare for the democrat party. The reason I got so angry about the name calling is, I am scared because I truly believe he will be a serious distraction to getting things done. So reducing me to a troll or did my father love me, is not only immature, but really has no place in debate.I am voicing concerns and wanting to understand what you guys on the D side really think of him from your views and why you do believe in him.
    I respect you for saying better than Republicans, I disagree, but at least you are honest!
    I HOPE your outside view of Webb is right on, and if it is, and he truly behaves in a Reagan fiscal way, I will then tip my hat to him, and MAYBE even salute him. ;-)I totally agree he is has much to learn and I hope he does. His one saving grace to me on that is, only best and brightest get into USNA, so I know he has the ability to. My fear is he will get so wrapped up into himself once again and be a bull in a china shop. As I said before I truly hope you are right!!

  29. Most folks going to the polls figure Democrat = liberal, Republican = conservative. That’s a correlation that has been hammer home by talking heads for decades. That can’t be undone with one candidate in one race.

    An astute summary, Waldo, and one I tried to convince Joe of when I was trying to explain that, regardless of his individual platform–or even the Independent Green party’s total platform, most people were never going to see them as more conservative than Goode & Allen. Green = progressive. Progressives are notoriously more left than Democrats.

    What’s in a name? Everything, once other labels and associations have been tagged onto it.

  30. Lynne,

    the democrat party.

    I don’t call the R’s the Republic Party. Please respect us by using the gramatically correct version of our name: The Democratic Party.

    To do otherwise is to be dissonant and disrespectful.


  31. Mark, Sorry!! yeah that is my problem with not having spell check! You are right!! it is Democratic Party and when I am wrong, I say so. So as to avoid this I will call us D and R from now on, agreed??

  32. Lynne,

    Your use of language is more revealing than you might wish. For instance, there are people who have deliberately been saying “the Democrat Party” for years. People who follow politics know who they are.

    So, your claim about that term being a spelling error is less than convincing to me.

    In your comments you have pretended to deplore labels, then can‘t make it through a paragraph without using them.

    So, your dislike of labels seems only to be about how others use them. Half of what you’ve had to say has been about how to correctly label yourself.

    Your repeated calling Webb a “bully” can’t really have come from your own observation of him, because there’s nothing in the public record to back up such a characterization. On the other hand, with Allen there were some instances during the campaign that inspired some to put that very label on his behavior.

    While I’m not altogether sure what a “troll” is, I’ve little doubt that your comments in this space have come from a “sore loser” just trying to get somebody’s goat.

    Of course, no offense is intended.

  33. Waldo this is what I posted in the zillion comments over at CC:

    “Congratulations Senator-elect Webb and all those within the VA Dem party who worked hard, you earned this and deserve to enjoy it! I’m open to seeing what happens with the new leadership, and I pray that I am pleasantly surprised! If I’m not, well then we will battle policy and bills, again.

    It is impossible to fairly describe anyone, of any party, by blanket terms such as Republican or Democrat. Obviously we all are unique individuals, our party affiliation is but one part of who we are, it cannot define us. Making generic statements about members of either party is silly and does nothing to further the discussion.

    I don’t know anything about Mrs Webb, however I am willing to accept what the above poster said about her, and I pray she can be a valuable assest to the new Senator. If she isn’t, well she wasn’t on the ballot and I will chose to not involve her in any arguement.

    George Allen has served our Commonwealth for many years in many capacities, he has always fought hard for our state and he deserves to be thanked properly for that service. No matter what party you may belong to, please set aside politics for a moment and recognize that fact. (You may not agree with his votes or stances, but you have to have seen how hard he fought for what he felt was right for VA). Susan Allen has always been a graceful, quiet yet very involved lady, and I thank her too.

    This Republican will hope for the best and prepare for the worst :-)”

    I consider myself a Reagan Republican, therefore I have been very upset with many of the Congressional Republicans, moreso than with the Congressional Democrats! While painful, I do think that these huge losses could ultimately help save my party. There is NO denying the fact that the GOP has forgotten their own ideals, may this election wake them up.

    Now that the election is over I think it is time for both sides to scale back the crap and recognize that *both* Webb and Allen are men who have honorably served our country. George Allen steps down as a man who has served in the VA House, the US House, the US Senate and as Governor of VA; regardless of party, that is an impressive record and deserving of some respect.

    *jumps down for soapbox*

    Still waiting for Waldo to run for VA House…may even entice me to jump parties just that once and volunteer for ya :-)

  34. Still waiting for Waldo to run for VA House…may even entice me to jump parties just that once and volunteer for ya :-)

    I’m in Rob Bell’s district, so you might want to reconsider that offer. :) It’s awful nice of you to say, though.

  35. From Sheila:

    George Allen has served our Commonwealth for many years in many capacities, he has always fought hard for our state and he deserves to be thanked properly for that service. No matter what party you may belong to, please set aside politics for a moment and recognize that fact.

    A personal anecdote relevant to this statement, involving Virgil Goode. My stepfather was born in a foreign country over 7 decades ago. Recently, he was required to produce a birth certificate to receive some governmental benefits. My parents called Goode’s office and enlisted his help in retrieving said records from overseas. The documents came through in a fairly timely manner, huzzah!

    My parents supported Al Weed in this last election. When an acquaintance who knew the story asked why they didn’t support the representative who had helped them, my mother replied (paraphrased), “It wasn’t a matter of him doing us a favor. Goode was simply doing his job–I’d expect any representative to do his job, but I think Weed is the better man.”

    As a professional holding particular elected positions with specific job descriptions, George Allen did his job and did it well. You are correct–he deserves that acknowledgement even from Yellow Dogs and liberals. Once the token of appreciation is given, however, I don’t feel we’re obligated to think or aver that he was the best, or even better, man for the job.

    Like you, I’m not saying that to be argumentative. Simply stating it because so many people forget that being an elected official is a job description with 2 sets of not-always compatible skill sets and responsibilities–that of policymaker (which is what most of us elect upon) and that of public servant (which is what most of us use).

  36. Not to be ungracious to our departing senator but I don’t believe he did his job well. I could never see ex-Marines Chuck Robb (2 terms by the way) or Jim Webb stealing someone else’s legislation.

    What did George Allen produce? Help for college students? Not that I saw…

    Curiousity about how to make life better for average citizens? Nope, just what states were on the primary calendar…

    I’m sick of that horse’s ass and the bad reputation he gave Virginia with his howdy-dody show and stupid act. Good ridiance.

    Also, many of us are strong supporters of the military and Liberal. Not saying Jim Webb is, but those who equate liberal with hating the military have been listening to too much Rush.

    For insight into Webb’s decision making process and the way he likes to hear from relevant personnel before making decisions, I would point you to the interview that started this wonderful adventure:

  37. If I was going to pick one thing to call Jim Webb, it would be a Bull Moose, Teddy Roosevelt progressive. Considering that there are only handful of us in Virginia, I am thrilled that I somehow now have a Senator who perfectly represents my teensy, tiny political minority of bat-shit-crazy progressive hawks.


    (going home now to clean my rifles while repeating the words ‘Senator Jim Webb’ 5,000 times.)

  38. Webb has the potential to be another Pat Moynihan, a public thinker turned legislator who actually addresses policy questions rather than delivering partisan talking points.

    Webb also has the potential to be a loose cannon, maybe (one hopes) like John McCain, but maybe like Zell Miller.
    Whatever else comes from Webb’s time in the Senate, we can anticipate a no-holds-barred memoir after he leaves office.

  39. Not only did we retake the Senate this cycle but we knocked off a lot of the youth within the Republican senate caucus. Of the 55 Republican senators in the current congress, this is the rank in age of those who retired or were defeated:

    Santorum (5)
    Talent (8)
    Chafee (11)
    Allen (13)
    Frist (15)
    DeWine (23)
    Burns (43)

    The nice thing about this is that we obviously targeted the right individuals – newer members who had not established a long history of service yet but also have the potential to be facing more open seats as the older members remain and are more likely to retire in the future.

    If by chance, old age causes a senator to need to step down early, a number of the potential early retirements would have an interim senator appointed by a Democrat:

    (Age listed is age at next election)

    Warner (81), VA
    Specter (78), PA
    Domenici (76), NM
    Thomas (75), WY
    Grassley (75), IA
    Imhofe (74), OK
    Voinovich (72), OH
    McCain (72), AZ
    Roberts (72), KS
    Dole (72), NC

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