Thursday, June 08, 2006

Miller: Mark Warner; updated

The aftermath of the Chris Matthews moderated/dominated mini-debate aired live on Hardball on Thursday, between Harris Miller and Jim Webb, is now propelling many of the whirligigs out in Virginia's political blogosphere. If the reader is surprised that both camps immediately saw only good in their man's performance, and only bad in their opponent's, the reader must have just tuned in to this Democratic primary race.

In the Richmond Report the Washington Post's Michael Shear seemed ready to call the cable TV face-off a draw, except for one rather striking difference between the two candidates' answers to one particular question.

“...But perhaps the most stunning moment came at the end, when Matthews started grilling the two candidates about the upcoming presidential contest. Final question. if you had to vote right now on a piece of paper in front of you, Hillary or Mark Warner, who would you vote for?

“Miller said, simply: ‘Mark Warner.’

“But Webb, perhaps forgetting that Warner is practically a rock star in the state Webb is hoping to get elected from, said: ‘I remain undecided.’”

For a guy who switched political parties, not so long ago, that was a rather poorly phrased answer. If Webb was prepared for the question, I don't see why he wouldn't have had a better answer. As for why Webb isn't on the popular Warner's bandwagon ... it's puzzling to this scribe.

OK, I've read the Webb bloggers unified response that their man is looking down the road, that his unwillingness to back Warner, now, officially or not, is a clever ploy to gain favor with the Clintons. Sorry, there's nothing clever about it, if that's really why Webb won't say he leans toward a favorite son in a national race. In fact, it's probably not even a good thing to say for anyone trying to help Webb.

Why would an undecided Democrat in Virginia think Webb's concern for not stepping on Clinton toes, to do with a national race in 2008, is a reason to vote for Webb? Whoever thought that artless dodge up ought to find another way to help Webb defeat Miller.

With the Webb propagandists, it seems to be all about his celebrity status and their "passion" for him, and very little else. With Miller's propaganda, it's about blurring much of his inconvenient history as a lobbyist -- I can't find out how old he is anywhere -- while standing totally for the political correctness of the 1990s. Both camps have stayed perpetually outraged at the lies of the other. Both camps have been equally willing to make good Democrats cringe at the tone of their propaganda.

In “Democratic rivals answer questions,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Tyler Whitley wrote:

“...Given a chance to question each other, Webb asked Miller what he would do to clean up the lobbying scandal in Washington. Miller is a former lobbyist. Miller said he would ban all gifts to members of Congress. He said he would get rid of special-interest, pork-barrel projects, which lobbyists help put in the federal budget. He also would seek public funding of television advertising in political campaigns, he said.

“Miller asked Webb about his past support of Republican candidates, including George W. Bush over Al Gore. Webb has been quoted as blaming ‘Clinton fatigue.’ Webb replied that the country has changed since 2000.”

Note: This post was updated at 2 p.m. today.


Anonymous said...

Warner is popular. Yes. But in case either candidate wins, its a sure thing they would need financial backing from the Clinton "machine" ie the Clinton vast financial network and connections.

I think Webb chose the right answer and offended nobody.

The Richmond Democrat said...


Is this another litmus test? Have you lost sight of the fact that Webb has been endorsed by Wesley Clark, but not Warner?

Me thinks it would be bad manners on Webb's part towards Clark, a firm ally of Webb's, to endorse Warner this early.

I appluad Webb for showing a little diplomacy and for focusing on 2006.

Miller's endorsement of Warner hasn't earned him any reciprocity from Warner, nor is it likely to. For Warner to win the 2008 nomination, he will need to show that he opened the doors to Democratic victory in Virginia. A Miller nomination followed by Miller being blown out of the water by George Allen doesn't fit with Warner's strategy.

Warner needs a winner in 2006, even if that winner doesn't specifically endorse him. If Webb wins the nomination, he just might win the general election. If he does, Mark Warner will be able to point at Webb and say "that's part of my legacy."




The Richmond Democrat said...

Oh yeah, almost forgot: John Kerry has also endorsed Jim Webb.

So Webb has two presidential candidates who have endorsed him and Warner has not endorsed him yet.

Refresh my memory: why would Webb endorse someone now?

Alice said...

Harris Miller is 55 years old. I can't imagine why this matters, it is not as if he is Jack Benny going around saying he is 39.

Alice said...

But in case either candidate wins, its a sure thing they would need financial backing from the Clinton "machine" ie the Clinton vast financial network and connections.

I think Webb chose the right answer and offended nobody.

So what you are saying is that a candidate should chose his answsers to generate campaign contributions????????????

Stomp Allen said...

This may be hard to understand Alice, but it's smart to not alienate people you'll be working with.

F.T. Rea said...


Your thinking may be well informed, but it’s too convoluted for this observer. Do you really think everyday people, the voters, are watching out for whether Wes Clark likes something about a Virginia Democratic primary?

Who keeps track of such trivia? The echo chamber has perhaps blown out some eardrums in the blogosphere -- not so different from standing too close to the speakers at way too many Rock ’n’ Roll shows.

My point about Webb’s reply to the question is that he could have answered it better. If Webb had said something like my suggested copy below, how would it have offended anyone?

“There are several possible candidates I might like, or have long respected, who may eventually play a role in that race, two years off. Today, in the hypothetical and short of an endorsement, I naturally lean toward the favorite son ... if it’s a matter of choosing, simply to answer a trick question.”

-- Terry

F.T. Rea said...

Alice Marshall,

Thanks for commenting. I’m not suggesting a conspiracy theory, or anything like that, but I’ve tried to do basic research on Harris Miller several times over the last few months, using the Internet. I may be an old goat, but I’ve learned how to use search engines, somewhat, and I have written about lots of politicians over the years, using such tools for background.

With Harris Miller I’ve been more frustrated than ever before. I don’t why, but for some reason it’s hard to find much out about Mr. Miller, including basic stuff like how old he is. Since IT is his realm, I have to guess that there’s a solid reason for that.

My guess is that somebody has worked very hard to cover some tracks.

Why? I don’t know. For now, I’m guessing it has to do with shaping the public’s perception, and nothing more nefarious. My attempts to contact the Miller campaign directly for information have borne no fruit. In fact, this is the first campaign in many years -- from both Webb’s and Miller’s camp -- that I’ve had such difficulty getting answers. So, I can only guess...