I am large. I contain multitudes.

Vivian Paige hears that Mark Warner won’t be challenging Sen. John Warner next year. To my surprise, I that news comes to me as somewhat of a relief.

The notion of a challenger for Sen. Warner is an area of personal hypocrisy for me: I believe that candidates should have challengers every time, and that as a Democrat I should support the Democrat whenever possible, but I’d have a hard time supporting a challenger against Sen. Warner. When Sen. Webb was running against George Allen, I said that the biggest reason why we should have Webb as our senator is because, with two former Secretaries of the Navy representing us in the Senate, Oceana is in good shape. That’s as true for Warner as it is for Webb.

I disagree with Sen. Warner about a great deal, but I believe he’s a fair-minded, principled man, and that means a lot to me. (I’d say the same thing about Sen. Stolle, or Sen. Hanger, among others in Virginia.) And, finally, I know Warner’s seniority is good for Virginia and serves us well.

So the notion of having to pick between Sen. Warner and Gov. Warner does not appeal to me. I honestly can’t say for whom I would vote in such a contest. (I know two people who are currently preparing to send me angry e-mails in response to this paragraph. Sorry, guys.)

I want to see incumbents challenged, I am a Democrat, yet I feel relief at hearing that Mark Warner may not challenge John Warner. And in this regard I contradict myself in a way that I cannot adequately explain.

(See also “My inconsistent philosophy,” June 2005.)

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

24 replies on “I am large. I contain multitudes.”

  1. You know, until recently, I would have agreed on the assessment of Warner as fair and principled. But I’ve not seen him putting either to good use, lately. Torture bill? Yeah, very principled. Habeus? Quite fair. Pretending to give a damn about the President putting more Americans in harms way and then voting against even debating it? Fair and principled, indeed.

    I might have understood the reticence before, but I sure can’t now . . .

  2. So I guess you wouldn’t support Beyer for Senate huh?

    I…well, I guess not.

    Like I said, this is all very strange for me.

    Pretending to give a damn about the President putting more Americans in harms way and then voting against even debating it?

    Make no mistake: I disagree with the man about a great deal. I’m a Democrat, he’s a Republican. No doubt there are plenty of examples of him conducting himself in a way to what we’d like out of our Senator. In case I haven’t been clear, I am simply not capable of defending my support of Sen. Warner. It may, in fact, simply not be rational.

  3. Perhaps you have to have lived in Virginia Beach and see the slum that it’s become in the past 15 years (well, as far back as I can really remember) to think that Oceana closing might be a good thing.

  4. Take a look at Millington, TN for a look at how an air-station closure can change a city.

    I landed in Millington a couple years ago (the old NAS runways have been turned over to civilian use), and much of what was once a thriving suburb (I was stationed there in the mid-1980s) has since dried up. On a Saturday evening I couldn’t get a taxi to a hotel–or even find a hotel with pick-up service at the airport. I wound up getting back into my plane and flying to Memphis International for the night.

    Re Warner v. Warner, I’m of like mind with Waldo. But then I’m ex-Navy and have a “thing” for former Naval Secretaries. (Webb appointed me to Annapolis.)

  5. The way that I see it, there must always be an opposition. I would not want monopoly control of government by the Democratic Party. Since there clearly must be opposition to us, the best that we can hope for is an honest, intellectually capable opponent with truly good intentions. On those rare occasions when we can choose our opposition, this is what we should be looking for. A John Adams against our Thomas Jefferson. If we want a good, honest Republican party to oppose us then the last thing that we should be doing is hounding the best of them out of office.

    To this end, it may be worthwhile for Virginia Democrats to give John Warner a free pass. Yes, we could beat him. Do the math, look at the districts in Northern Virginia that he’s always depended on for victory and note how they’ve all trended heavily towards Democrats since last Warner was challenged. But that doesn’t mean that we should take him out.

    Virginia is not an outright blue state. Somewhere around half of our population identifies as Republican. Even if we *can* edge them out and grab both Senate seats, my sense of justice tells me that now that we have one, they ought to have the other.

  6. Jack,

    I’m with you lockstep on this one. I think John Warner defines what is good about the Senate, in that he legislates on what he honestly believes is good for the country, regardless of partisan labels. Despite the fact that he’s being lumped with anti-surge Democrats right now, there is still, as Waldo mentioned, a fair amount that I disagree with the man on. I may question his actions at times, but I never question his motive. That defines solid opposition that I want in the Senate.

    I’ve said it before, it would take a whale of a Democratic candidate to get me to vote against Warner…

  7. he’s a fair-minded, principled man

    Oh, please. Putting his party above his country to deny a vote on his own anti-escalation bill, which he’d dragged gullible Dems over to in the first place.

    Participating in the “anti-torture” kabuki dance with Graham and McCain — pretending to have some kind of independent stance, then folding as soon as the Dems walked into the trap.

    And there are a thousand other examples. He’s a party-line pol in the service of a corrupt party with a failed ideology. That ‘he wouldn’t support Ollie North’ credit card’s just about reached its expiration date, wouldn’t you say? That’s the most truly honorable thing he’s done.

  8. I used to have quite a bit of respect for Warner, but he’s become steadily more infuriating in recent years. I’ll have to dig up the letter he sent in support of his vote to undercut habeas corpus, in which he talks about how important it is to have an “expedient” method for dealing with detainees (expediency apparently now being a higher principle than “innocent until proven guilty,” not to mention that continued efforts to push the legal envelope have delayed, not speeded, justice.)

    He once had principles, now he seems to have endless rationalizations for indefensible administration behavior.

  9. I suspect a lot of Democrats are doing a lot of projecting onto John Warner. We honestly WANT a fair and principled elected Republican to exist. He might have been, once, but he certainly isn’t anymore. I don’t know how anyone, with a straight face and having witnessed his substantive performance in the past couple of years, could argue otherwise. I think John Danforth was probably the last decent Republican in the Senate. Or maybe John Chafee.

    As noted, a vigorous opposition is a good thing – but it has to be based on something beyond What’s Good for My Party. There is no “justice” in splitting seats between Democrats and Republicans simply for the sake of split seats. If that’s the case, why wouldn’t there be “justice” in splitting the Congressional delegation between socialists, Democrats, Republicans, and the Natural Law Party?

  10. Nell & Jim,

    Of course you disagree with him on those things. He’s a Republican. That is the nature of opposition – to oppose us. If you didn’t have a dozen items like that to reach for then he wouldn’t be an opponent. If the rationale is that everybody who disagrees with us should be tossed out of government then we’d be aiming for monopoly power. Which is the surest path to corruption.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’d like to pick up a few more seats in the Senate in ’08. And things are looking good for that. Colorado is almost a gimmie with Allard’s retirement. Pete Dominici in NM may be retiring and even if he isn’t, the growing signs of his senility make NM a solid race. 2008 is ‘a target rich environment.’ We can afford to let John Warner keep his seat while adding to our majority.

  11. MB,

    Because Socialists make up a insignificantly tiny percentage of Americans and most people have never heard of the Natural Law Party. I am a believer in the practice of compromising and sharing power with very large political minorities. Senate rules writ large. A good government should not just be ‘majority rule.’ It should be a majority that rules while making an effort to make as many of it’s people happy as possible. Otherwise democracy is just 2 foxes and a chicken deciding what’s for dinner.

    Not Robert Roberts,

    Don Beyer is old, old news now. Last time he won an election of any kind was, what, 14 years ago? Most Virginia voters under the age of 30 probably couldn’t even tell you who he is. Beyer’s whole era of political leadership is in the past now. The Virginia Democratic party has undergone a complete transformation since he last ran for office. I’m not sure how Beyer really fits into this era of guys like Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Jim Webb & Creigh Deeds.

  12. Jack – so, no matter how much damage a party is doing, if it can hoodwink enough people into believing that they should support that party, the other part ought not to argue?

  13. MB,

    I must admit that I really don’t have the slightest idea of what you’re getting at. I could interpret your last comment probably 3 or 4 different ways. Could you please elaborate?

  14. Well, I understand you to be arguing that, since VA is split generally in half along Dem/GOP lines, then VA should have one Republican and one Democratic Senator. Is that right?

  15. Looking ahead to a possible silver lining in this announcement, I hope this means Mark Warner will seek a second term as Governor, succeeding Kaine. Then Kaine can run for his own second term four years later.

    As I understand it (correct me if I’m wrong) the recent two-term legislation excludes the current incumbent and if so this scenario is possible.

  16. I will refrain from emailing on your choice in a head to head. That said, I wholeheartedly agree that we are very, very fortunate to have Senator Warner and, absent a run by the former Governor, I will look foward to crossing over a second time to vote for him.

  17. I am glad that Mark won’t be challenging John in 2008, for one selfish reason — it is essential that Mark be the Democratic candidate for governor in 2009.

  18. Having Mark Warner at the top of the ticket will be essential if we want to get control of the legislature in time for redistricting. I think in the end that’s more important than defeating a respectable senator like John Warner. I suspect that should M. Warner run for governor in 2009 the coattails will be quite significant.

  19. From a national perspective, it would be helpful to challege Warner just to have the donations and support John Warner would acrue not go to other Republican candidates. We win when we contest every seat as evidenced in this most recent cycle.

    On Gilmore, I wonder if a gimic campaign might work running for President, such as eliminating a payroll tax. I would think not…I hope not.

    We shouldn’t be putting too many eggs in the Mark Warner is running in 2009 to save our legislature for redistricting. If there is a President Hillary in 2009, the state might not be as inclined towards Democrats and Mark didn’t have many coattails last time…

  20. Bill Kuster… But remember Warner was elected as a Democrat just months after 9/11 when the GOP was riding high.

  21. Bill’s comment isn’t based on the popularity of Republicans, though. Virginia puts governors in office that are of the opposite party of the president. We’ve done so for many, many years now. Of course, that doesn’t mean that victory in Richmond is impossible after what seems like an inevitable 2008 victory, just that it’d be difficult.

  22. Truthfully, I can’t comprehend why anyone with even a grain of liberal or democratic tendancies would want to see John Warner unopposed. True, he showed some guts to go against his own party on the Iraq troop increase; however, the rest of his record falls pretty much right along conservative republican lines. As an environmentalist, I find his energy policy to be abhorent. He’s been a supporter of some rather infamous environmental debacles like trying to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    I’d actually been hoping that we’d have seen Mark Warner run for President. I’d love to see someone that could bring some fiscal responsibility and true bipartisanship back to D.C. Unfortunately he’s alredy pulled out. One has to wonder what his future plans are now…

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