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Friday, September 21, 2007

The Jim Webb Comedy Hour

           The Jim Webb Comedy Hour

Jim Webb was elected to the US Senate in 2006. Virginians decided they would elect this fellow over the incumbent, George Allen. While I contributed to and voted for George Allen, I must say that Jim Webb is much more entertaining than George Allen. I have never met the man, but his actions and statements put an instant smile on my face.

I don’t like putting labels on people. It’s usually an excuse for being unwilling to debate someone on the issues. It’s a nasty habit, but one that is very common to the political classes.

So let me make it clear, I’m not saying that Jim Webb is a left wing nut. I’m not saying that he’s a right wing nut. He’s just a plain old, garden variety nut. We all have friends, neighbors, relatives or acquaintances like Senator Webb. You know what I mean, that odd uncle or aunt who says and does things that are a little strange. It’s fun to have them around once in a while for entertainment purposes, and we’re going to have Jim Webb around for nearly six more years.

Jim Webb hasn’t been in office a year, and already he’s been entertaining. First, there was the formal reception at the White House shortly after his election at which he made a point of refusing to shake hands with the Commander in Chief. The President ignored the affront and inquired after Jim Webb’s son (who was then serving in Iraq). Jim Webb’s response was, "It’s none of your business." Some people would say Jim Webb has no class, and perhaps that’s true, but I think he was just being Jim Webb. He exhibits erratic behavior.

After all, this is the same Jim Webb who resigned in a huff as Secretary of the Navy. The same Jim Webb who gave his aide a bag to bring to his office that contained a big handgun and several additional clips of ammo (He was expecting what, a small war?). When his aide was detained by security, Webb complained that he had received death threats. Maybe. But perhaps he just wished he was important enough to have received death threats.

He has jumped from party to party like one of those famous jumping frogs of Calaveras County. He started out as a Democrat, supported Ronald Reagan, opposed Ollie North, endorsed George Allen for US Senate in 2000, blasted Bill Clinton, and then rejoined Clinton’s party to run for US Senate. As I said, Jim Webb is entertaining.

When it was pointed out that Jim Webb had some pretty blatant pornographic passages in his novels, he responded gravely, "I am a serious writer." That made me laugh. I’m not challenging the fact that Webb has writing talent, but serious writing his books are not. At best they are entertaining novels, at worst they are a seamy look at the underbelly of Vietnam.

But Jim Webb’s response is classic Jim Webb. I understand that Senator Webb has quite a high opinion of himself. Of course, all Senators and Congressmen have huge egos. It seems to go with the territory, but most of them know who they really are. Jim Webb apparently has no clue. He’s what Forbes magazine might describe as an "overreacher." But lightning struck Jim Webb. In 2006, the Democrats wanted any candidate that would give them one more vote in the US Senate. So Democrats were even willing to nominate Ronald Reagan’s former Secretary of the Navy if it would give them control of the US Senate. Their gambit paid off, but Jim Webb may turn out to be more than the Democrats bargained for. They have already found out that Webb is not some thoughtful maverick, he’s just a loose cannon that rolls all over the deck.

There is a positive note. Jim Webb provides great material for Jay Leno. With his red face and off the wall antics he reminds me of the comic strip character Popeye, huffing and puffing around. Maybe Ollie North hit him too hard in the head when they were boxing at the Naval Academy. Whatever the reason, I promise you that the Jim Webb comedy hour has just begun. It should be fun. Stay tuned…

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