A couple years ago, I took aim at Jim Webb for failing to be the independent Democrat he was billed as being during his 2006 Senate race against George Allen. In today’s New York Post, John J. Miller reports that Webb is beginning to show some spine. Ironically, it was national security issues that drove him from the Republican Party under George W. Bush — Webb opposed the war in Iraq — and it’s those issues that are putting him at odds with the Obama administration, especially as concerns civilian trials for terror detainees.
I’d have somewhat higher hopes for Webb’s new independence if it had preceded Scott Brown’s election to the Senate. Webb supported the Democratic health care bill when his opposition would have mattered most and come with the least obvious political consequences. Brown’s election in Massachusetts made Webb’s position matter less and made the politically expedient vote on the issue easier to ascertain. Most of all, Webb’s modest shift to the right seems to be tracking with a more pronounced rightward shift in Virginia, where he will be up for re-election in 2012. It’s welcome, but it doesn’t sound like someone Born Fighting.