From Daily Kos to Instapundit, political junkies who glance at the Virginia Senate election reflect Chuck Schumer’s talking points: that Jim Webb is George Allen’s worst nightmare. Except for some assorted Virginia pundits, like Larry Sabato, those who have seen the campaign up close know better. Jim Webb’s strengths are all on paper, and absent from the campaign trail.
Against an extremely liberal ex-lobbyist, Harris Miller, Webb faced what should have been a fairly easy primary. Most party activists rallied behind Webb rather than their longtime ally and financier, in the hopes that he is the great savior against Sen. George Allen. Liberal blogs in and out of Virginia joined Webb’s cause, giving him the veneer of momentum.
A Webb victory looked like a no-brainer to those who follow politics through their computers. But Virginia voters told a different story as they went to the polls Tuesday. A paltry 3 percent of Virginia Democrats turned out for the primary, with only 53 percent opting for Webb. Hardly an upsurge.
What is worse is that 35 percent of Webb’s votes came from the Democratic strongholds of Arlington and Fairfax Counties, rather than the blue collar, rural areas to which Democrats hope he will appeal. That Virginians could not get excited about either candidate, much less the more “electable” Jim Webb, spells trouble for his campaign against Allen.
The apathy for Webb may have been a matter of his past: a registered Republican, a Reagan appointee, an affirmative action opponent, and even a George Allen supporter in 2000. But if he is good enough for Kos and John Kerry, he will satisfy most party stalwarts.
Webb’s real problem isn’t the Jim Webb of the past, but the Jim Webb of today. He is a poor campaigner atop a poor campaign, earning him the moniker among some Virginia blogs, “The Worst Campaign Ever.” First, the campaign: it missed the Federal Elections Commission filing. An on-time filing is small, but easy — the minimum for a competent campaign. Its lone mailing looked like a comic book page and earned it charges of Jew-baiting. It was a dumb mistake, and a problem it didn’t need.
Without campaign mistakes, the candidate is poor enough. At Shad Planking, an easy-going venue perfect for meeting constituents and practicing those campaign skills, he withdrew to his own tent with his own band. He made little effort to talk to anyone but his campaign staff and his buddy, former Rep. Ben Jones, “Cooter” from The Dukes of Hazzard. Webb’s lack of glad-handing may be a refreshing departure to some, but a decent candidate at least likes people. People skills are essential not only for winning over voters, but also for raising money. Reportedly, Webb loathes making those phone calls.
And the “x” factor for the campaign trail: Webb’s temper may rival John McCain’s. After a televised debate with Harris Miller in Norfolk last month, Webb got so testy that he had to tell Miller to “shut your mouth.”p>Robert Barnes captured Webb’s amateur status well yesterday in the Washington Post , br> /p>
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online