Jim Webb for Senate

Jim Webb for Senate

There’s no doubt that Jim Webb is not a natural candidate. That’s just one more reason to vote for him for Senate over George Allen.

Webb would make an excellent addition to the Senate, with intellectual capacity and experience to help unravel some of the critical problems that body will face in the coming years.

Recently converting from Republican to Democrat, Webb opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, vigorously and publicly arguing against it in the months before invasion.

But Webb has significant credentials. A former Marine, Webb served in Vietnam, and was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts. During the Reagan administration, he served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense of Reserve Affairs and as Secretary of the Navy.

If elected, Webb might be the only senator with a son or daughter serving in combat in Iraq.

But Webb does not trumpet his own service or his son’s on the campaign trail, aside from wearing a pair of his son’s used combat boots.

Webb has written nonfiction books and six novels, and while his opponent would seek to make fun of Webb as a “fiction writer,” Webb’s accomplishments show no small amount of intellectual capacity and work ethic.

There are also powerful reasons to vote against George Allen.

Allen’s six years in the Senate lack legislative legacy or accomplishment. While this week he has tried to show that he is not in lockstep with President Bush on Iraq, he lacks ideas for any alternative to the current mess there.

And the past months have brought fresh, visceral evidence of Allen’s racial and ethnic insensitivity, reinforcing decades of racial insensitivity. If you haven’t watched the “macaca” video for yourself, you should. It compounds and confirms concern about Allen’s views, adds to evidence of Allen’s fascination with the Confederate flag and past display of a noose, a symbol of racial hatred and torture, in his office.

Virginia can’t afford racial insensitivity because of its past, and because of its future. History: Virginia’s past economy was built on slavery, and Virginia was a haven for segregation, closing schools rather than allow integration even into the early '60s. Future: Virginia is an increasingly diverse state, and its future economic and cultural development depends on embracing that diversity.

— Mary Kimm