Jim Webb, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Virginia, is in LA this weekend, doing what all candidates must do, looking for money. He faces a particularly daunting financial challenge, squaring off for US Senate against George Allen, a right wing, reactionary candidate for president. Senator Allen has filled his coffers with cash from his insider, corporate cronies so that he'll have at least $6 million to unleash on a relatively unknown opponent, one he never expected to face.
Jim is, to overuse a word, authentic. A decorated Viet Nam veteran who nearly lost his life in battle, a Republican who served as Secretary of the Navy in Ronald Reagan's Pentagon, Jim wins the iconoclast award. He has written many best selling books and now thinks daily about a son who is a soldier in George Bush's army of occupation in Iraq. Eight or so months ago, Jim Webb, like nearly seventy other war veterans, could no longer watch as Georges Bush and Allen buried their heads in twisted ideology as our nation waded in bloody quicksand in a place in which we are not welcome.
Jim Webb did what Tammy Duckworth , Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy and so many other veterans did this year. He placed both of his combat boots (he wears them everywhere and will do so until his son comes home from Iraq) squarely in the middle of America's democracy. Jim rose quickly to beat a better known politician for the Democratic nomination without airing even one ad. He ran on adrenaline, determination and pure patriotism. And he won.
Here's what I like about this guy. He's smart, he's deeply experienced in matters of defense and government workings, and he's from southwest Virginia, not the northern part near D.C. from which most Democrats in that state live. He says, "I did not leave the Republican party. It left me." While we may disagree on emphasis, I trust Jim to be a senior leader in our government, which is precisely the role senators are meant to play. Imagine Jim Webb on the Senate Armed Services Committee inquiring as to precisely how the Administration has spent tens of billions of dollars on no-bid, unsupervised contracts on the occupation in Iraq. Here's a man that even Joe Lieberman would admit understands the inner workings of the Pentagon and of the armed forces, who knows a thing or two about defense and strength and who can put right the wobbly piracy that has become the Bush White House's foreign policy.
Having watched at close range the inability of Joe Liberman to acknowledge that he has left the Democratic Party and instead has joined a cabal controlled by Carl Rove, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (whom I still think Mr. Lieberman will replace later this fall), I am heartened and engaged by Jim Webb. He has the human capacity to grow beyond himself and to see that our country is off kilter. He does not seek high office for the sake of ego or lack of anything better to do (sorry, Joe).
Jim's not yet "famous," in the way that some candidates this season have become and he won't really care if he's ever a celebrity. He's interested in winning in a state where the sitting Senators are not simply conservative, but are apologists for a war run amok and for an administration run off the rails. He stands for a strong, smart U.S. defense and he believes in a fair and just America, not a place where the few have it all and the many have to watch. This is the year for heroes. Jim already is an American hero, a Democrat by choice who might just knock off one of the most regressive men in the Senate today, and with it take down a leading contender for president. Red states only exist because there are too few like Jim. He can win. He just needs the money.
Watch Jim Webb. He'll make us all proud.