David Paul Kuhn has an interesting interview with Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) about his party’s shellacking in the midterms. Webb says his party has turned its back on Reagan Democrats like himself (Webb was secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan). And, appropos of our discussion of the Sailer Strategy, Webb tells the author of The Neglected Voter: White Men and the Democratic Dilemma that a big problem was the Democrats’ loss of white voters.
The trouble with Webb is that, with few exceptions, he didn’t seem very interested in demonstrating his independence while Virginia looked like it was trending Democratic. Now that it is swinging back in the opposite direction and he is up for reelection in 2012, Webb is reminding us of his pre-Senate conservatism with some more idiosyncratic populist flourishes. For example, Webb talks about going to the White House and discussing health reform and other topics with the president. “I told him this was going to be a disaster,” Webb says. “The president believed it was all going to work out.”
Yet occasional noises aside, Webb voted for this disaster in lockstep with the president and his party. During the 2006 campaign, there was reason to think Webb would be a more interesting figure. But like a lot of putatively conservative Democrats, he was with rare exceptions a Harry Reid clone. It will be very noteworthy if that changes over the next two years, though it may now be too little, too late.