In recent years, the Democratic Party has lurched so far to the left that we sometimes forget that there used to be rational and conservative politicians who were associated with it. In 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected president on a platform that included a promise to lower taxes in order to spur economic growth and thereby increase revenue to the treasury. Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992 promising to “end welfare as we know it.” I doubt that either Kennedy or Clinton would be able to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2016 — they would be considered too horribly right-wing for their party’s taste.
Jim Webb has had a long career of public service. A graduate of Annapolis in 1968, Webb became a highly decorated marine while serving as a officer in Vietnam. Wounded in combat, Webb served as an instructor in Officer’s Candidate School and completed his military career working in the Secretary of the Navy’s office. After being medically discharged from the Marine Corps due to his war injuries, he earned a law degree from Georgetown, worked for the House Committee on Veteran Affairs, and was appointed by Reagan to serve as an Assistant Secretary of Defense and then as Secretary of the Navy. He’s been an outspoken critic of both Republican and Democratic administrations, and was elected U.S. Senator from Virginia (as a Democrat) in 2006. He is considered by today’s Democratic Party to be completely out of step with its progressive goals and values.
In his run for the Democratic presidential nomination, Webb has remained true to form. Yes, he’s pro-military and unashamedly pro-American, but he’s also quick to point out that he was right (and almost alone) in his vocal opposition to the Iraq War. He was quite explicit in his warnings of what would happen with an American occupation, and it turns out that his dire predictions were almost prescient. He was happy to criticize the leaders of both parties as the situation in Iraq devolved, and soon became a thorn in the side of the political establishment. Even during his brief run for the Democratic nomination, he’s been the only candidate willing to take on Hillary over her Senatorial vote for the Iraq War and her disastrous record as Obama’s Secretary of State. Under Hillary’s tenure, the Obama Administration conducted a war in Libya that was unauthorized by Congress, and sadly only further aided the Jihadist forces intent on setting the Muslim world ablaze. Then Senator Webb penned an article speaking out against the administration’s unconstitutional use of military force, became dissatisfied with politics as usual, and refused to run for another term.
Jim Webb has repeatedly shown himself to be a principled public servant who still doesn’t shy from speaking truth to power. Unfortunately, he never managed to poll at more than 3%, and dropped from the race in October. Webb is continuing to attack Hillary on social media, convincing many political analysts that he’s planning to run as an independent:
“Hillary Clinton should be called to account for her inept leadership that brought about the chaos in Libya, and the power vacuums that resulted in the rest of the region. She’ll need better answers than the recent nonsensical comment that she advocated taking out Muammar Qadaffi in Libya in order to avert a situation like Syria. The predictable chaos in Libya was bad enough, but it also helped bring about the disaster in Syria.”
These are not the words of a man who has any plans to support the Democratic nominee. You can certainly understand why Bloomberg’s Ben Brody suggested that Webb was preparing for an independent presidential run, no matter what retractions they subsequently printed.
I think it’s safe to say that Jim Webb is up to something, the question is… what?
Let us assume that for the sake of argument Webb hasn’t lost his ability to think. He knows that he has no chance of winning the presidency as an independent — he’s never exhibited that level of delusion. Is he running as a spoiler? Unlikely. He almost certainly understands that he would take as many votes from the Republican nominee as he would from Hillary. No, he’s not running as a spoiler. If he runs at all, it will be to parlay whatever Democratic support he can muster into a deal where he trades his endorsement for a position in the next Republican administration.
Jim Webb isn’t seriously trying to win the presidency as an independent, he’s mainly looking to stop Hillary… and become either Donald Trump’s Secretary of State or Ted Cruz’s Vice President.