Friday, September 15, 2006

Everything is in the future

Writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Michael Paul Williams asks: “What’s up with Benny?” In his piece, “With endorsement of Allen, Lambert climbs out on a limb,” Williams examines the longtime Richmond Democratic legislator’s crossing of party lines to endorse a Republican’s reelection.

Williams pulls no punches. While he outlines the unusual nature of Lambert’s move, he also points to newly-minted Democrat Jim Webb’s lack of effort -- so far -- to reach out to the traditional Democratic base, which certainly includes black voters.

“...Webb has hardly embraced -- or been embraced by -- the black voter base so crucial to his election. Invoking the name and words of former President Ronald Reagan in an advertisement, which Webb did to the consternation of Nancy Reagan, is hardly the move to energize black voters. Still, many assumed that the disaffected would fall into (party) line.”
On this point I agree with Williams. This is something Webb needs to address, pronto. Contrary to what some of Webb’s supporters might think, Allen’s Macaca Gaffe will not be enough to automatically deliver the enthusiastic support of black voters to Webb’s effort to unseat Allen. It’s even a little insulting to think that it would.

Trumpeting what was his Reagan connection in the 1980s may enhance Webb’s ability to win over some independent voters, even some disaffected Republicans. Still, without a strong election day turnout of the Democratic base in Virginia Webb is going to lose this race. You can bet the farm on that.

Allen’s camp would love to keep Webb apologizing for things he said 20 or 30 years ago, and disagreeing with flinty Nancy Reagan, of all people.


Partly because it distracts voters from the Macaca Gaffe, and mostly because it keeps Webb trapped in the past. Hey, the truth is most Democrats could care less if Mrs. Reagan is crazy enough to think she owns the rights to every image of and word from her late husband that was ever recorded.

Moreover, Webb needs to show Democrats why he is a Democrat today. While his 2002 public stance against the invasion of Iraq remains noteworthy, that’s old news, too. Webb must stop talking about the past and start talking about the brighter future he and his fellow Democrats will create if given the opportunity.

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