Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chutzpah of the Year Award to Webb

Senator-elect Jim Webb was easily the most significant player on the Virginia political landscape during 2006. Early in the year, when others saw beating the Republican incumbent, Senator George Allen, as impossible, Webb -- a successful writer who didn’t need a new career -- decided to run.

No one knew what would happen in a Webb vs. Allen race, but many proclaimed they did. Pundits sneered at Webb’s chances after he won a Democratic primary in June. Webb pressed on, steering deftly through colorful events on the campaign trail that were as unprecedented as it gets.

Then, credit for Webb’s somewhat shocking November win over Allen was promptly claimed by many, near and far. Some of those who rushed to pat themselves on their backs seemed to almost overlook the role of the candidate, himself.

At this desk I see only one standout as deserving of SLANT’s semi-coveted award for political chutzpah -- Jim Webb, the difference-maker who stuck his neck out, and found a way to win. Thus, from the for-what-it’s-worth department, SLANT’s 2006 Chutzpah of the Year Award goes to Jim Webb.
Art by F.T. Rea


Alice said...

What pundits do you have in mind? Sabato (the real one), Joe Klien, Marc Fisher, Nina Totenberg, all said Webb was the stonger candidate.

Webb beat an entrenched incumbent and gets the credit for that, but there were plenty of people who thought he could win.

Catzmaw said...

Have to disagree with Alice Marshall to some extent. All those pundits who thought Webb could win didn't really say so until the last two or three weeks of the campaign. NONE of them were saying it from July through most of October.

F.T. Rea said...

Alice Marshall,

My reference to pundits seeing Allen as unbeatable wasn’t made with anyone in particular mind. It was merely recalling how the picture looked to most people, including most pundits, six months ago.

At that time, many Democrats were still reluctant to go all out with their criticism of the Bush administration’s Iraq war policy. So, it wasn’t even clear that Webb, a newly-minted Democrat with his unapologetic opposition to that policy, would even be able to get all the Democrats onboard.

My saying Webb deserves the most credit for his upset victory shouldn’t be seen as a slight to those who worked for him, or believed in him early on. But I am getting a little tired of reading about behind-the-scenes Webb-supporters arguing over who played the biggest role in putting Webb over the top.