Thursday, February 16, 2006

Say it ain't so, James

I read that James Webb is running for the Senate in Virginia as a Democrat. Reagan's Secretary of the Navy, running as a Democrat. Why?

Mac Owens of the Naval War College in Newport says that it is because the civilians at the Defense Department are not sufficiently deferential to the views of veterans regarding the conduct of the war in Iraq. So, oor James Webb feels slighted by the bully Rumsfeld. Oh, and Republicans said mean things about some veterans, like Paul Hackett in Ohio, Murtha, and Kerry, all of whom opposed the President's policy in Iraq. I sense a trend. Some ego-tripping politician, who happens also to be a veteran, calls the White House with a great idea for winning the war, but does not see the idea immediately put into action, and turns into a strident anti-war critic. So, a fit of pique causes these great statesmen to turn from hawks to doves.

Now, I am on active duty, and I have to tell you, that while I might respect an officer for having the fortitude to step into the uniform and serve, that doesn't mean I think that person has all the answers regarding Iraq or any other matter of public policy. Some of the dumbest ideas for ending the war, or for reducing our presence in Iraq, or about political matters in general come from people who have been in combat. Should their lame-brain ideas have special currency by virtue of having been to war? OR should those ideas be weighed against all other ideas before a decision is made. I trust Rumsfeld and the President to take as much input as the can, and make the best possible decisions. Will this result in some ideas, even those submitted by intellectual luminaries like Webb, Murtha and Kerry being ignored? Yes. Does that mean they should take their ball and go home? A mature adult would say no, but an inside the beltway egotist would say, "because Rummy won't listen to me, I am now against the war that I was for previously."

I used to have a lot of respect for James Webb, respect that he earned through his service in Vietnam and for his obvious literary gifts on display in Fields of Fire and Something to Die For, among other books. I began to lose some of my respect for him in my two encounters with him during book signings. If both cases, I saw him make plenty of time for Generals and retired Generals who came to glad-hand him all the while ignoring young Marines who were introduced to Fields of Fire through the Commandant's Reading Program and wanted to express to him how much his book meant to them. He perfunctorily signed their copies, and turned back to the Generals who, I guess now looking back in retrospect, he thought were going to back his Senatorial candidacy through donations or assistance. I was not impressed.

I am even less impressed now. For all his professed concern for the troops and for the welfare of the military, it looks like Webb is just another of those inside the beltway egotistical prima donnas who doesn't get his way, so in a tiff, changes parties to "send a message to the President" or something else equally banal. To him I say, George Allen is a good enough Republican senator for Virginia who upports the troops and the war effort, and would never side with the likes of Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden and Harry Reid against this President and against the United States. Webb has become a Murtha-style phony. Vote for Allen, vote against Webb.