PointCounterpoint: Just a media-made candidate

By Eric Naing

Jim Webb is awesome. He handed democrats control of the Senate, his tough guy image is reshaping the party and his self-written Democratic Response overshadowed President Bush’s State of the Union, but is he good enough to be vice president? Probably, but the question we should really be asking is if the vice presidency is good enough for Webb.

Democrats are hungry. After six years of wandering the political wilderness, they have taken control of Congress and are now preparing an all star line-up of candidates to take back the White House.

So after Sen. Webb’s stellar SOTU rebuttal, it is not surprising that many are chomping at the bit to pigeonhole him into the number two spot under a Clinton, Obama or Kucinich (one can dream, right?) presidential candidacy.

On the surface, Webb as VP makes sense.

His service in the Marine Corps and his tenure as President Regan’s Secretary of the Navy give him unmatched foreign policy credibility and his populist economic message would resonate well with middle and working class voters. And frankly speaking, having Webb as your VP, with him being a white male, would go a long way to winning over voters wary of electing an African American Obama or a female Clinton.

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    Vice presidential candidates do more than make a presidential candidate seem more electable. They are shapeless lumps of clay that must be reformed in the image of their presidential candidate. Webb is a tough talking man of vision, someone who will speak truth to power. What better way to destroy all that than to force him to toe Obama’s or Hillary’s or Edwards’s line.

    Being a vice presidential candidate means you have to carry the water of the person above you on the ticket.

    Whatever Hillary or Obama believe (no matter how inane or contradictory), Webb has to not only believe but go out and evangelize. Nothing would be worse for Webb than to force him to repeatedly rationalize Hillary’s (or Edwards’s) initial support for the war. And despite being touted as a supposedly “conservative” democrat, Sen. Webb’s positions on health care, free trade and the economy in general veer much farther to the left than even the populist Edwards and the smooth talking Obama would be comfortable with.

    Most likely due to their eagerness to win back the presidency, democrats have immediately pinned all their hopes onto anyone who remotely shows any political promise. This instant hype train forced Obama to rapidly accelerate his political ambitions when he would have been better off waiting a few more years. The same thing is happening to Webb but at an even faster pace.

    Jim Webb has been in the Senate for less than a month. He has proven that he could be an influential figure in democratic politics, but he first has to develop his potential.

    Instead of suffocating every rising star with hype, Democrats need to be a little more patient and let their stars rise to the top themselves.