ALEXANDRIA, VA — The announcement by former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia that he will be a candidate for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination should be welcomed by Americans of every political viewpoint. Jim Webb is a war hero, a serious man, one not given to reciting right wing or left wing cliches, or to avoid taking a position until his pollsters have told him where he stands.
Jim Webb is a war hero, a serious man, one not given to reciting right wing or left wing cliches, or to avoid taking a position until his pollsters have told him where he stands.
A former Republican who served as Secretary of the Navy for President Ronald Reagan, Webb, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, served as a rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam and was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts.
Later, he worked in Congress in veterans affairs and rose through the ranks of the Defense Department and in 1987 was named Secretary of the Navy. Webb served in the U. S. Senate from 2007 to 2013. He made veterans issues a priority and remained focused on foreign affairs. In 2009, he made a trip to Myanmar to help secure the release of an American prisoner. He served as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee's Asia-Pacific subcommittee and was a strong supporter of reforming the criminal justice system. He argues that drug addiction should be treated as a medical rather than criminal concern.
As with others who have served in the military during wartime, Jim Webb believes war is a last resort, not an initial imperative, especially against countries which have not attacked us. He staunchly opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. He warned in 2002, before the war began, that "those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well that there is no exit strategy if we invade."
In his announcement message, Webb presented his differences with the rest of the field as his primary strength: "I understand the odds, particularly in today's political climate where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money. Let's clean out the manure-filled stables of a political system that has been characterized by greed."
He reminded voters that he has spent his "entire life in and around the military," and reiterated his early and passionate opposition to the Iraq war and his subsequent opposition to intervention in Libya, both policies supported by his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Webb declared: "We need a President who understands leadership, who has a proven record of actual accomplishments, who can bring about bipartisan solutions, who can bring people from both sides to the table to get things done."
Jim Webb is not the candidate of the Democratic Party establishment, which is financed by elites on Wall Street and in Hollywood. Hillary Clinton is their favorite and has long done their bidding. In a world increasingly heading for chaos, a war hero with international experience might have widespread appeal, especially one that is not trigger-happy. Webb says he feels an obligation to provide the leadership necessary to keep the U.S. out of foreign entanglements and to fight for middle class Americans.: "We need to shake the hold of these shadow elites on our political process. Our elected officials need to get back to the basics of good governance and to remember that their principal obligations are to protect our national interests abroad and to ensure a level playing field here at home, especially for those who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power."
Jim Webb believes war is a last resort, not an initial imperative, especially against countries which have not attacked us. He staunchly opposed the Iraq war from the beginning.
Webb points to Hillary Clinton's vote for the Iraq war in the Senate and her strong advocacy at the State Department for U.S. military support of rebels who overthrew Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, which destabilized the country and helped give rise to ISIS, the spread of terrorism and the complete destabilization of the Middle East. "Let me assure you," he said in his announcement, "as president I would not have urged an invasion of Iraq, nor as senator would. I have voted to authorize it. I warned in writing five months before that invasion that we do not belong as an occupying power in that part of the world, and that this invasion would be a strategic blunder of historic proportions, empowering Iran and in the long run China, unleashing sectarian violence inside Iraq and turning our troops into terrorist targets."
Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate. The main thing she seems to stand for is being elected president. She would not even take a position on the trade bill, which she once supported. She and her husband have become rich through politics.
Evidence shows that her efforts to provide favors to major donors to her husband's foundation stretch back to her time as a U.S. senator when she had the power to earmark federal funds and influence legislation. For example, public records show that she introduced a bill in the Senate that allowed a donor to the Clinton Foundation to use fax-exempt bonds to build a shopping center in Syracuse, New York.
In a world increasingly heading for chaos, a war hero with international experience might have widespread appeal, especially one that is not trigger-happy.
She also worked to defeat legislation that would have subjected Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant, to tougher regulations before the housing bubble burst and led to a major recession. That same year, Freddie Mac donated $50,000 to $100,000 to the then-named William J. Clinton Foundation. There are pages filled with similar instances of the Clintons enriching themselves and violating the public trust.
Because Hillary Clinton is so flawed, her challenger on the left, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is within 8 percentage points of Clinton in New Hampshire polls. Sen. Sanders is viewed as a principled liberal and while many of his positions may seem a bit extreme to many voters, someone who stands for something seems preferable to someone who stands for nothing but personal ambition and enrichment.
Now Jim Webb has entered the contest. He brings a different set of experiences and a long career in public service. He was busy writing books while Hillary Clinton was enriching herself by serving special interests, both foreign and domestic. In 2006, Webb was not expected to defeat incumbent Republican Senator George Allen (R-VA), but he did. Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, says, "Webb is an interesting and accomplished guy, and as he proved in 2006. You underestimate him at your peril."
Jim Webb brings a lifetime of bravery, experience and thoughtful leadership to the race. He certainly deserves a hearing. Hopefully, he will get it. And in the presidential debates, Hillary Clinton may finally have to explain herself. Some women may vote for her on the basis of gender, but many will not. After hearing Jim Webb and Bernie Sanders, naked ambition may not seem very appealing to voters.
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Allan C. Brownfeld is the author of five books, the latest of which
is The Revolution Lobby (Council for Inter-American Security). He has
been a staff aide to a U.S. Vice President, Members of Congress, and
the U.S. Senate Internal Subcommittee.
He is associate editor of The Lincoln Reveiw and a contributing
editor to such publications as Human Events,
The St. Croix Review, and The Washington Report on Middle
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