I’ve mentioned in passing several times, both here and on OTB Radio, that Jim Webb would be the Democrats’ smartest choice for Vice President, particularly if (as seems exceedingly likely) Barack Obama is their nominee. Alex Massie makes the case in detail. Some excerpts:
The political considerations first: the Democrats have no other plausible candidate with anything like Webb’s military experience. At the very least one might think Obama could ask Webb to be a Shadow Secretary of Defense in advance of nominating him to the post after the election. Sure, Webb was a Republican until recently, but in addition to the Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts he won in Vietnam he served as Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration. He also, and vitally from a Democratic point of view, opposed the Iraq War for reasons that, alas, look more cogent than ever.
Secondly, even allowing for the truth that Webb could probably not have won Virginia without George Allen’s self-immolation it remains the case that Virginia is trending Democratic and Webb’s presence on the ticket could conceivably help Obama win the Commonwealth’s 14 electoral college votes. Pinching states from the opposition is no small thing.
But really Webb’s appeal as a running-mate is greater than that and greater too than the prospect of his being able to compensate, to some extent anyway, for John McCain’s appeal to working-class white men. It’s not hard to imagine Webb helping the ticket in virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, to say nothing of the benefits his populism could potentially have in states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio. He may, in fact, be just the sort of culturally conservative and genuine Democrat Obama needs to balance his ticket.
The main downsides to Webb, are that he’s a bit of a loose cannon and might not be the ideal guy to have out in the hustings to deliver a scripted message and, as Dave Schuler has noted, that having two first-term Senators on the ticket might be problematic from an “experience” standpoint.
I’m not sure how much these matter. As McCain has demonstrated, a certain cantankerous candor charms the press, so he’d get something of a pass for minor gaffes. And this might be a year when experience is a disadvantage, as in Ross Perot’s famous 1992 debate rejoinder, “I don’t have any experience screwing up the country.”
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