Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I knew that Michael Barone had become a deranged Democrat-hater, but this Barone blog post is unusually embarrassing, even for him:

Jim Webb versus Barack Obama?

My friend Paul Rahe, professor of history at Hillsdale College, was among the first to see through the David Brooks depiction (now withdrawn with the confession "I'm an Obama sap") of Barack Obama as a pragmatic centrist compromiser. In his most recent blogpost, Rahe calls for Senator Jim Webb, the Virginia Democrat elected in 2006 who is not running for reelection in 2012, to give a speech denouncing Obama's latest economic program and to run against him in the Democratic primaries. In the past Webb has placed principle above party, resigning as Ronald Reagan's Navy secretary because of policy differences, leaving the Republican party for the Democrats because of his opposition to the war in Iraq. Why not again? Over to you, Senator.

It's easy to see what we have here: a lifelong ink-stained wretch and a career academic having jackboot fantasies about a military man, disguising their overcompensation as principled scorn for an upstart pup who's threatened their rich friends and benefactors.

The link to Professor Rahe's post is busted in Barone's post, but here's the correct link and an excerpt, which stinks of condescension and concern trollery:

... When [Obama] hired [chief of staff Bill] Daley, I figured that he had decided that it was time for adult supervision. But the adolescent in the White House is clearly incapable of accepting that. He would not only rather be right than victorious; he is unwilling even to contemplate the possibility that he might be wrong....

As an American, ... I cannot wholeheartedly welcome the suicide of one of our two major parties....

Were I a Democratic Senator, I would give a speech denouncing the most recent proposal put forward by President Obama. I would denounce it on principled grounds as an unjust attack on the investors and entrepreneurs who actually create jobs in this country....

I could even put a name on the Democratic Senator who should do the job. Jim Webb was a genuine war hero during Vietnam. He did yeoman service as Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan. His political career has, however, been a disaster. He allowed his anger -- some of it justified, some of it not -- at the manner in which George W. Bush was conducting the war in Iraq lead him into a pact with the left wing of the Democratic Party, and after 2008 he was a reliable vote for the so-called "stimulus" bill, for Obamacare, and for Dodd-Frank. He has done his country considerable harm; he has a lot to answer for; and I suspect that, on his better days, he knows it. When not enraged, Jim Webb is as sharp as they come. It is now time that he do penance for his sins -- and by way of doing penance he could do his country and his party considerable good.

Jim Webb should give the speech, and he should run in the primaries against the President. He would not win the nomination, but the effect of his presence would be electric -- and it would sow the seeds for the Democratic Party’s rebirth as a party ready and willing to participate in our great national project of restoring constitutional government. All that Webb would really have to do is to stand up and say, "The Emperor has no clothes!"

I love the way Rahe combines hero-worship with an accusation of near-treason -- "He has done his country considerable harm." Way to butter the guy up, Paul.

Webb has indeed criticized the president's plan, but he's an idiosyncratic guy -- some of his rhetoric over the years could almost be construed as class warfare:

... Black America and Scots-Irish America are like tortured siblings. They both have long history and they both missed the boat when it came to all of the larger benefits that a lot of other people were able to receive. There's a saying in the Appalachian Mountains that they say to one another and it's, "if you're poor and white, you're out of sight."

...If this cultural group could get [around] the same table as Black America, you could change populist American politics. Because they have so much in common in terms of what they need out of government.

That's not the Webb these guys are fantasizing about, of course. They're fantasizing about a Flight Suit Bush, a warrior/corpocrat, but one who's actually ducked real bullets while wearing a uniform. Me, I'd love to see the reaction to Webb if he ran for president in Democratic primaries reading from Barone and Rahe's coddle-the-rich script, especially in towns with double-digit unemployment. Yeah, I bet the response would be electric.