If Central Casting were in charge of who would play U.S. senator from Virginia, the role might go to Jim Webb. A U.S. Naval Academy boxer and much-decorated U.S. Marine who served with valor in Vietnam, the 60-year-old Webb could easily be the John Wayne of the 21st Century. He stills wears his signature combat boots and talks proudly of his years in uniform and as secretary of the Navy (under Ronald Reagan). Webb is also a best-selling author and sometime screenwriter.
But Jim Webb is also the Democratic nominee against Republican Sen. George Allen—who, incredibly, is someone Webb endorsed and campaigned for six years ago. In accepting the pleas of anti-Iraq War bloggers and other Bush-haters to run for the Senate in the Old Dominion this year, Webb essentially made himself the enemy of all his hero Reagan stood for and onetime favored candidate Allen represents.
Put another way, if you take off his combat boots and forget his record of service in uniform, there is little difference between Jim Webb and one of his most enthusiastic campaigners, Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.). Webb is pro-abortion, opposes the male-female constitutional definition of marriage that Allen champions and voted for, and opposes the tough border security measures that were passed by the House (and, again, which Allen supports). At almost every function on the campaign trail, Webb, known for his huge ego, weighs in against the President he admits he twice voted for by saying that “there was a lack of foresight” in the decision to take out Saddam Hussein. He also believes U.S. troops could leave Iraq in about two years—although, curiously, he does not follow the lead of Kerry & Co. and call for an exit date.
If Jim Webb didn’t have to address issues and were simply auditioning for the part of senator, he might just win. But elections are not about screenplays or even résumés but records and beliefs. In a nutshell, that’s the reason to re-elect the genuine conservative who has a record of standing by his principles, not changing them for political reasons—George Allen.