Well, here’s more news for that set -- it never was a good slogan/theme for this campaign. But to a pack of frustrated anti-war Democrats, who were tired of being cast as wimps, perhaps back in the winter its swagger was just too seductive. Webb was a war hero, he was even a boxer at Annapolis, so they just couldn’t resist it.
It makes George Allen look like a sissy, they chanted, between gulps of Kool-Aid. Then it turned out it only worked on people who already thought George Allen was a sissy. So, nothing much was being gained. Maybe something was lost?
Now, four weeks from Labor Day, it’s disappointing to admit that all I can see Webb’s camp has accomplished for the candidate I’m pulling for this year is to convince some people to call James Webb, the author, “Jim,” as a candidate. Beyond that, as far as issues go, they have asserted that Webb is no longer a supporter of Sen. George Allen, and that he opposed the invasion of Iraq.
No alternatives. No clear vision of what should be, or should not be. In the spring Jim Webb had a chance of beating George Allen. It never was a good chance, but on the heels of Tim Kaine’s gubernatorial win, it was possible. Now, it will take a miracle.
Still, miracles happen. Allen may stumble. Events overseas may shift radically. Three months can be a long time in politics. If James Webb, the much-lauded military strategist, keeps listening to the same sort of lame advice he’s relied upon so far, he won’t even be in position to take advantage of such an opportunity, if it presents itself.
Getting rid of the Born Fighting thing was good, but what replaces it? Born Slightly Disagreeing? Born Begging for Money from People Not Listening? Born to Lose?
Unless, he’s already quit and just playing out the string, Webb needs to show the bold leadership his avid supporters have touted, by taking charge of affairs. He needs to stop speaking through surrogates, pronto, and make some news with his own words. He probably needs to fire some people, too.
Like the ex-boxer Terry Malloy (played by Marlon Brando) in “On the Waterfront” (1954), it seems Webb has been betrayed by bad advice from those closest to him. Still, I’ll always believe the guy who wrote “Born Fighting” coulda been a contender ...