Writing that personal ad for Barack Obama’s VP search on Sunday sure got me thinking seriously about the logic of putting Jim Webb on the Democratic ticket, and I’m clearly not the only one who’s had the Virginia Senator in mind lately. It’s hard to come up with someone who balances Barack Obama better, who fills so many of his gaps as a candidate and as a public persona:
- Webb is a legitimate good ole boy from down the road, not some pretender or (sorry mom) rich pretty boy. Southerners see through crap pandering pretty quickly, and he’s got the air of the real deal.
- He served in the Marines in Vietnam, has contributed policy papers to military publications since, and served as Secretary of the Navy under Reagan (no less).
- He packs heat!
- He ain’t pretty, and he is older (62), which helps offset some of the all-fluff, no-substance criticism of Obama. His schtick will work on some audiences skeptical of Obama’s law-professor-meets-Messiah style.
- But he’s still close enough in age and general educational/cultural background that he and Obama don’t look mismatched a la Kennedy/Johnson.
- Judging from last week’s NPR interview, Webb is a guy who really wants to make a mark. He’ll bust his ass for the ticket.
- The man is a scrapper, and he sounds like he’s just as willing to lead with a shiv as with a policy brief. Obama can take the ethereal high road all day long, but Webb is around to drop the other guy at 500 yards — with a head shot.
- Needless to say, he puts the already purple state of Virginia definitely in play, and he’ll also be good in North Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri…pretty much any place with a drawl. Obama will turn out the black vote, the kids and the urban professionals in force, and picking off a few of the more conservative Dems and independents in suburbs and small towns might just create some surprises come November.
Things that may work for him or against him but are cool and/or interesting:
- He is a filmmaker and won an Emmy for a piece about the Marines in Beirut in 1983.
- He has published a line of thrillers and a history of the Scotch-Irish in America.
- His wife (his third) is Vietnamese (talk about a multi-ethnic White House).
- He doesn’t appear to be crazy.
Looks like a strong candidate to me, but we’ll see what Obama’s selection committee (and Obama himself) think. Here’s the social media angle: in the meantime, ObamaWebb 2008 has already taken off online, in the form of ObamaWebb08.com (apparent tagline: “We thought of it in November 2006!”), as well as this graphic which was emailed in a couple of days ago: