Obama’s VP Selection — Anyone But Webb

The Economist has a good article that summarizes why Jim Webb would be a nightmare pick for VP to people like me:

The main worry about Mr Webb, however, is that he is a genuine fire-breathing economic populist. He appears actually to believe the sort of stuff that Mr Obama only says during Democratic primaries. Since vice-presidents sometimes become presidents, this matters. American workers, says Mr Webb, “are at the mercy of cut-throat executives who are vastly overpaid, partly as a consequence of giving [the workers’] jobs away to other people.” Illegal immigration and globalisation “threaten to dissipate” the American middle-class way of life. He predicts that, unless the government acts to restore “economic fairness”, America “may well go the way of ancient Greece [or] greed-ridden Rome”.

America may be horribly unequal, but it is not, as Mr Webb imagines, apocalyptically so. And judging by his book, Mr Webb has only a shaky understanding of the economic system he decries. He thinks South Korea is more productive than America, and that “most” investors are among the wealthiest 1% of Americans. (In fact, about half of Americans own shares.) He is worryingly hazy about how he would make America fairer. But his instincts are plainly hostile to the free flow of goods, investment and people across borders. Mr Obama, who has recently started to sound less protectionist on the campaign trail and has appointed a team of impeccably centrist economic advisers, can surely do a bit better.

If the Republicans still controlled Congress, I would seriously consider voting for Obama. However, the thought of one party controlling both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is chilling given how it’s worked out in the past (Republicans and Democrats alike). Add Jim Webb to the ticket and a vote for Obama would be even less appealing to me.

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Robert Prather
About Robert Prather
Robert Prather contributed over 80 posts to OTB between October 2005 and July 2013. He previously blogged at the now defunct Insults Unpunished. Follow him on Twitter @RobPrather.


  1. While Webb may not be his best choice for various reasons, this isn’t one of them. Before I get into that, let’s look at some of Senator Webb’s positives. First, Webb brings some semblance of moral authority on the war in Iraq since his son is fighting it. Second, Obama has worried some on the left because of his steps back on NAFTA (which the article praises) and he will need that vote in swing states such as Ohio and Michigan to win the election. Third, Webb helps put Virgina more in the Democratic category, and that would be a HUGE pickup. The downsides of picking Webb include that he is often to frank or prone to put his foot in his mouth. Another downside to a Webb selection is that he hasn’t really been tested strongly by the media (although he is getting better) and his lack of experience in dealing with that makes it more likely that he will make a verbal gaffe. The final downside to a Webb selection would be the enormous amount of fodder for the media concerning the differences in his candidates positions and his own. I personally think Webb would be a really good choice, but if he is not, it is certainly not because of the reasons The Economist stated. Obama is trying to reassure that crowd, but he isn’t going to win most of those votes anyway.

  2. DL says:

    Frankly I’d rather see them pick the most obviously radical nut they can.

    One way to keep people out of your yard is to let your giant, foaming mouthed, growling, pitbull/wolf crossbreed out to pee.

    The danger from the left is always that they cover up what they really believe -sugar coating it in the eyes of the masses who know so little about how they got their freedom and what is necessary to keep it.

    it might be good to show them that the messiah has a fearsome side, before judgment day (nov 4)

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    Robert, I would ask what terrible fate we suffered from the Republican party when it controlled both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue?

  4. Steve,

    1. Spending got out of control under the Republicans with Bush at the helm.

    2. He created an new Medicare drug benefit when most seniors already had drug coverage, thus adding trillions to the unfunded liability for Medicare. Republicans would have thoroughly rejected this had Clinton or Gore proposed it.

    3. They aided him in trying to enhance executive powers. A good opposition would have kept him in check and both he and the country would be better off today.

    I will be voting for divided government in the future because I want the worst instincts of both parties kept in check.

  5. Talmadge,

    I disagree. Webb seems to know nothing about economics and he is very loud in his ignorance, as described by The Economist. Populist economics is almost always wrong and having Webb on the ticket is like providing a megaphone for ignorance. Also, he could use even a loss as a jumping off point for a future presidential run.

    Not worth the risk to me, particularly when Obama is backing off the foolishness he spouted about NAFTA in the primaries. Obama is just now starting to grow up; adding Webb would be a step backwards in that department.

  6. DL,

    If it didn’t have consequences if they won, I would agree. Better to hope, instead, that Democrats put together the most reasonable ticket possible to minimize the damage that having the Dems control both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue would cause.

  7. The fact is most cultural conservatives are opposed to NAFTA and Obama should take a position similar to this. He is doing the right thing by no taking and out right opposition position, but don’t discount those votes hurt by the agreement.