This week the liberal press began a furious attack on one of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s most likely vice-presidential picks, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.
“Jim Webb would make an awful running mate,” snarled Timothy Noah in the Washington Post webzine Slate.
Webb has “rebel roots,” barked Politico’s David Mark, and “an affinity for Confederacy.”
But truth be told, Webb could be Obama’s best choice to balance the Democratic ticket.
Obama is widely seen as weak on national defense, and as too far left, with a voting record the impartial National Journal called the “most liberal” in the U.S. Senate.
Webb is a decorated Vietnam Marine combat veteran who served for four years in Republican Ronald Reagan’s administration as first assistant secretary of Defense and then secretary of the Navy.
Obama has little support among blue collar white voters, as rival Sen. Hillary Clinton demonstrated by beating him in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
Missouri-born Webb, who calls himself a “redneck,” not only is proud of his Appalachian heritage but also wrote a 2004 book titled "Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America."
Webb, now a senator from the Virginia heart of the Confederacy, has defended the “gallantry” of those Johnny Rebs who fought not for slavery but for the right of their states to secede.
Nobody in his or her right mind believes Webb is in any way racist. Thrice married, he is now husband of a Vietnamese-American securities and corporate lawyer and speaks fluent Vietnamese. (Full disclosure: Webb and I were both in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Southern California at the same time during the early 1960s — he in Navy and I in Air Force ROTC — before he headed off to the Naval Academy at Annapolis.)
Webb is certainly not politically correct. His affinity for fellow Scots-Irish Americans (whose ancestry traces to Northern Ireland, Ulster) and the Confederacy might alienate some African-Americans. Still his views might attract Reagan Democrats from key battleground states who otherwise might vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Webb also might alienate Clinton feministas who remember a 1979 article he wrote, “Women Can’t Fight,” decrying the admission of women to America’s military academies.
“[Women’s] presence at institutions dedicated to the preparation of men for combat command is poisoning that preparation,” wrote Webb in The Washingtonian.
“By attempting to sexually sterilize the Naval Academy environment in the name of equality, this country has sterilized the whole process of combat leadership training, and our military forces are doomed to suffer the consequences.
“The system,” Webb asserted, “has been objectified and neutered to the point it can no longer develop or measure leadership . . .”
But Webb long ago recanted these impolitic statements.
So why the almost frantic push by progressive journalists to knock Webb off Obama’s short list of potential running mates?
Their reason, this columnist infers, is that the left already knows how it plans to attack John McCain — plans that would be hypocritical and hard to execute with Webb on the Democratic ticket.
McCain, too, has roots that reach back into the Confederacy, to his great-grandfather’s 2,000 acre plantation in Carroll County, Miss., and the 52 slaves he owned.
One of those slaves who took her owner’s family name, Mary J. McCain, was freed after the War Between the States and became the mother of famed blues guitarist “Mississippi” John Hurt.
Like the Scots, who after being conquered by England became the greatest warriors fighting for the British Empire, the McCain family began a tradition of military service that produced two admirals for the same U.S. Navy that President Abraham Lincoln ordered to storm Mobile Bay and re-supply Ft. Sumpter.
Now McCain will be the presidential candidate of this Yankee political party of the Great Emancipator.
The Democratic Party, by contrast, was founded by Scots-Irish slave owners Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, and both Clinton and Obama have happily attended Jefferson-Jackson Day party dinners honoring them.
The current senior Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, is a former Grand Kleagle in the Ku Klux Klan. Both Clinton and Obama have knelt to kiss his ring.
Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter is also descended from slave owners.
But, of course, the liberal mainstream media usually conceals such inconvenient truths from voters.
Why is it deviating in the case of Democratic Senator Jim Webb, descendant of Confederate officers?
Apparently it would be hard to whip up hatred among liberals, or fear and loathing among African-Americans, for John McCain’s Confederate ancestry if the Democratic ticket includes a Jim Webb with the same background.
A youthful 62, Webb seems in some ways like a younger version of McCain himself.
Both men are honored Vietnam vets with strong national defense credentials. Both are Scots-Irish Americans who exhibit occasional fiery eruptions of temper.
One of McCain’s great-aunts was descended from the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce. Among McCain’s American ancestors were North Carolina Indian fighters, one of whom served on Gen. George Washington’s staff.
Webb traces his ancestry to warriors who fought in every major war in America’s history. And both McCain and Webb were Reagan Republicans.
Is that what the left fears, that Webb switched from Republican to Democrat and might switch back if fate or a future election made him president?
Is Webb’s sin that he is not racist enough to be trusted to stay in the political party of the slave owners, that once backed the Klan, Jim Crow, Bull Connor, and racial preferences?
Could it be the Hollywood side of Jim Webb that troubles liberals? Webb won an Emmy for his 1983 PBS coverage of U.S. Marines in Beirut.
Webb wrote the story and executive-produced the 2000 Tommy Lee Jones-Samuel L. Jackson movie "Rules of Engagement."
Rob Reiner is reportedly directing and producing a film based on Webb’s screenplay “Whiskey River” about an injured Iraq vet called back to active duty. It’s an anti-Iraq war film, but does it portray American soldiers as evil enough to satisfy liberal Democrats?
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