Washington Post reporter/advocate Tim Craig (along with Michael D. Shear) led the newspaper’s incessant "Macaca"-wielding crusade against conservative Sen. George Allen in 2006. Now, on the heels of Sen. Jim Webb’s national-media tour for his new book "A Time to Fight," Craig is back to promote Sen. Webb as an attractive running mate for Barack Obama in an article headlined "Webb Would Be a Bold Choice for Obama’s No. 2."
Craig had a long list of positives, but the negatives were more fascinating. Craig reported one down side was "Webb remains relatively unvetted because much of the focus during the 2006 Senate race was on former senator George Allen (R-Va.)." The Post’s dynamic Democratic duo certainly failed to do that. Instead of a vetting, Webb was aggressively celebrated as a novelist, a scholar, and a tribune of the poor Scotch-Irish "redneck" folks of the South.
Craig’s other self-referential sentence came as he noted Obama might notice Webb barely won Virginia: "In 2006, Webb won the state by just 9,000 votes, despite the national Democratic tide and Allen's well-publicized gaffes." They were certainly very well-publicized by the Washington Post.
Craig also noted Webb was a nervous, reluctant campaigner and wrote some feminist-frustrating things against women in combat. But much of the article was devoted to the plus side of the ledger. Craig first touted Webb this way: "Not even two years into his first term in the Senate, Webb is making a name for himself as a plainspoken lawmaker who opposes the war in Iraq and forcefully pushes his message of economic populism." A plain-spoken populist? Craig continued:
A former Marine who was highly decorated for his service in Vietnam, Webb would enhance Obama's national security credentials and help Democrats counter Arizona Sen. John McCain's heroic military record.
Like Obama, Webb opposed the war in Iraq long before the invasion in March 2003, giving Obama an opportunity to reinforce his central argument that Democrats had the better judgment when it came to whether to authorize the war. And Obama could charge Webb, who served as secretary of the Navy, with planning an exit strategy from the war in Iraq that would not lead to chaos in the Middle East.
Webb also is a former Republican, which fits neatly with Obama's campaign theme of reaching out to independents and Republicans in changing the way business is done in Washington. Webb, an opponent of gun control, would also provide some ideological balance to Obama, who leans to the left on many issues.
For the record, Sen. Webb's first American Conservative Union rating in 2007 was 16 percent, which in reality doesn’t make him much of a ticket-balancer. He's much closer to Obama on the liberal end of the scale than he is to Ronald Reagan. But Craig kept praising:
Webb's focus on the economic plight of working-class Americans, many of whom live in rural communities, could help Obama win over some of those voters who have so far been skeptical of him.
Beyond Webb's potential national appeal, Obama will probably need some help if he wants to win Virginia in the fall. If an Obama-Webb ticket wins Virginia's 13 electoral votes, which last went to a Democrat in 1964, it's hard to see how it wouldn't win the general election.
Now, having ruined Allen's plans to run for president in 2008, they're pushing Webb for the veep spot instead. Brent Bozell summarized the 2006 Post campaign:
By Election Day, 112 Post news stories and editorials had used the word “macaca.” But that wasn’t enough. Then came the truly shaky allegations that Allen used the "N-word" during his college days in the 1970s. Still that wasn’t enough. Stories that young Allen stuffed deer heads into the mailboxes of black folks for laughs were deemed as newsworthy history and not merely as hearsay. Reporters like Shear acknowledged that the accusers were Democratic partisans, but that didn’t stop them from spreading them around. Rumors were king; and the "defensive crouch" was established.
Allen was questioned for every allegedly racist bone in his body (including wearing a Confederate flag pin when he was a high school kid – horrors!). He was even pounded in the Post news columns for stealing another kid’s bike in high school and not returning it until the next day – double horrors!
Remember that the next time the Post says Obama's flag-pin antics were petty stuff that voters shouldn't consider.
UPDATE: James Taranto today forwards the potential Webb problem with "affirmative action" policy, tilting it more toward whites. Isn't it amazing how much of a non-issue quotas have been in the Obama Anointment?