posted on February 01, 2007 13:33
The most eloquent – and effective – Democratic spokesman today may be a former Marine and Reagan Cabinet member: Jim Webb.
If you missed the Virginia Senator’s response to Bush’s State of the Union speech, you can see it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVXMU43Qhow
Webb eviscerated Bush on Iraq and the economy. He hit the perfect tone on Iraq. If Bush won’t change course, he said, “we will be showing him the way.” And he did it without sounding weak.
Webb’s no wimp. He graduated from the Naval Academy and was a Marine combat officer in Vietnam. He earned the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.
His father was a career Air Force officer who flew B-17s and B-29s during World War Two and cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift, then was a pioneer in the United States missile program. Webb Senior worked in the Pentagon under Robert McNamara, until he retired – in part to protest political micromanagement of the Vietnam War.
Jim Webb himself served in the Pentagon under President Reagan – as Assistant Secretary of Defense and then Secretary of the Navy. He resigned in 1988 after refusing to agree in the reduction of the Navy's force structure during congressionally-mandated budget cuts.
His son serves today as an infantry Marine in Iraq. Senator Webb had a famous dust-up about his son with the President.
But it’s not just that the Webbs wore the uniform. Webb was against the war before it started. He predicted exactly what has happened. He does not have the baggage of a Clinton or Edwards who voted for war in the first place.
Here is another intriguing fact: Webb is a professional writer. The author of novels, a history and numerous articles. He even taught literature at the Naval Academy.
I had an interesting interview this week with Jesse DeConto of The News & Observer, who is writing an article about local politicians who have blogs.
Jesse made me think that – in today’s Internet world – the ability to write can be as powerful as the ability to speak well on TV. Webb’s State of the Union response was well-crafted, like his books. It was clear and remarkably free of political B.S.
We had another President once whose ability to write clearly and compellingly made him a great leader. That was Abraham Lincoln.
Webb may be no Lincoln, but he has a command of words. Ronald Reagan was no Lincoln, either, but he was a good writer. That’s part of what made him the Great Communicator.
As for Webb, I’ll be paying attention from now on. And the Democratic presidential candidates should be eyeing him as a running mate.
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