Albert Hunt imagines that Jim Webb could pose a real challenge to Clinton. Some of the reasons why:
Clinton recently said she disagreed with Obama’s decision not to intervene in the Syrian civil war. Webb warns that the Syrian opposition includes not only elements friendly to the U.S., but also the radical Islamic State forces that have wreaked mayhem there and in Iraq, murdering thousands and beheading two American journalists. Syria, he has warned, is “Lebanon on steroids.”
Clinton has close ties to Wall Street, a source of campaign funds for her and the Clinton Foundation. Since leaving office, she has received large speaking fees from hedge funds, private-equity companies and big banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Webb, 68, has long taken a populist, anti-Wall Street stance.
Millman suspects that Webb “would make a terrible primary challenger to Clinton” but hopes he runs anyway:
Webb is a pretty rare bird.
He’s an intellectual but not an ideologue. He’s a culturally right-wing personality who recognizes that on the most important issues facing the nation, we need to move to the left – and not just on economics and foreign policy; he’s been critical of Executive power, even with his own party’s man in office, and has taken a serious hard look at reforming our appalling prison-industrial complex. He’s a strong critic of the “Washington consensus” in foreign policy who cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called either naive or a neo-isolationist. (In a deep sense, he’ll always have the outlook of a Secretary of the Navy.) Most important, he’s a genuinely independent person, the exact opposite of the careerist climber. We desperately need more people like him in our politics.
And, I think it would be very helpful on foreign policy in particular for Democratic primary voters to recognize that Clinton is all the way on the bleeding right edge of her party.
Like Millman, I think Webb is an interesting and impressive figure, and I was very pleased when he knocked George Allen out of the Senate in 2006. During his one term in office, he did some important work on veterans’ issues, and he took a principled and correct stand against Obama’s illegal war in Libya. His response to Bush’s 2007 State of the Union address was the only one I can recall from the last decade that wasn’t immediately irrelevant. His decision to run for office as a Democrat in large part because of his disgust with the Iraq war and Bush administration incompetence was one of the more meaningful rebukes to the GOP back then, and if Republican leaders were smarter they would have learned something from it. It would be good for the country and the Democratic primary process if he ran against Clinton and put some obstacles in the way of her coronation, but I’m not sure that I see any incentives for Webb to do this.
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