A reader whose political savvy I have reason to respect writes:
You know what? In that strange, pre-primary system of choosing Presidential candidates, James Webb would be the dark horse. I am not advocating his nomination, but no one turns me on at this point, and I listened to his response to the State of the Union with pleasure. I would have had a really hard time voting for him for Senate, and I regret feeling that way. I do not like the primary system; there is something to be said for the old pros and the smoke filled rooms.
Second things first. Yes, getting back to the smoke-filled room would be an improvement, if only by saving hundreds of millions of dollars per cycle that could otherwise go to fighting Republicans. But you can’t get there from here.
As to Webb: I agree. Webb is way too conservative socially for my taste, and also probably more hawkish generally on foreign policy. (The rage against him from the right has to do with the fact that his position on Iraq stems, not from a generalized kumbaya distaste for war, but from a specific and informed opinion that making war against Iraq, and occupying it, were and are disastrous from the viewpoint of the national security.)
But he’d make a terrific candidate, and probably a good President. He’d also be the perfect running-mate for Obama or Clinton.
However, Webb promised his constituents he’d serve a full six years, and I take him to be less willing than the average politician to break such pledges. Indeed, that’s part of his charm.