Webb and Allen Redux?

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    The Richmond Times Dispatch’s Jeff Shapiro attempts to analyze a 2012 rematch of Senator Jim Webb and former Senator George Allen today. If what he opines is true, Allen should stay away from a rematch. The problem is, at least for criminal sentencing, he doesn’t get Webb much at all.

    Sadly, Shapiro either has ignored Webb on the issue of our criminal justice system or doesn’t understand the sorry state of a society that locks away too many who haven’t conformed. It seems that he believes Webb’s focus on this issue is simply a self-serving effort to attract minority voters with the lure of a shameful situation that disproportionately affects African-Americans and other minorities. Well Jeff, that Webb is a wily one. Years and years ago he studied and visited Japanese criminal justice and prisons because he knew that one day he would need to use incarceration as an issue in his reelection campaign against an ethnically bewildered opponent.

    That Webb is “a distant brooder who is schmooze-challenged as a candidate” can’t be argued. He is not going to win by glad-handing. The Senator will have to rely upon his record. So for the other side, it is important to discredit or diminish his accomplishments in office. Criminal sentencing is one that can be twisted, particularly by a no shades of gray, law and order advocate like Allen. About the only accomplishment that will be off the table might be the GI Bill. So to win, Webb’s campaign will have to develop a clear theme of commonsense populist action to counter the misrepresentations.

    Actually, it is difficult to be certain of Shapiro’s argument until the very end of his piece where it sort of falls into place. Shapiro seems to think that Webb would win in a rematch because Webb is the lesser of two evils for African-American voters. The “macaca moment,” for Shapiro, is the fulcrum that will give Webb the advantage. Shapiro misattributes the Chinese proverb “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” to explain why Webb would draw some of the motivated Obama voters. But it may be Allen himself who pulls the plug on a race against Webb. There are many other reasons to vote for Webb over Allen or any other; Webb just has to get them out there.