I Hope Jim Webb Doesn’t Court Humiliation

Probably like a lot of progressives, I mentally wrote off Jim Webb as a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate when in the midst of Republicans abandoning the display of the Confederate Battle Flag he chose to call the issue “complicated” and implicitly defend nostalgia for the Lost Cause, while reminding us he’s done a lot of that in the past. As someone observed on listserve I read the day that story broke, unless Webb backtracks he may have disqualified himself from running for office anywhere other than Mississippi.

So I was a bit surprised today to see a WaPo piece from Rachel Weiner reporting that Webb may be near a presidential announcement–indeed, he was close to one last Friday in Iowa until a HRC event preempted him. He may not ultimately run, but he’s sure thinking about it, though I don’t know what he was thinking about when he made the following remarks at a sheriff’s association meeting:

He could not easily attack Clinton from the left, as former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have, although criminal justice reform provides one such opening. He has also argued that she would not aggressively take on big financial interests.

But Webb ended his appearance by saying that he was “very proud of having worked in the Reagan administration” as secretary of the Navy. He pointed out to reporters that conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer shared his view of the Confederate flag — that it shouldn’t be used as a political symbol but that good people fought on both sides. Democratic primary voters are unlikely to be impressed by those references.

Yeah, I think you could say that.

I really hope Webb doesn’t court humiliation by running for president now. If he’s not willing quickly to join politicians of both parties in consigning the Confederacy to a museum, his political career will belong in one as well.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.