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.

    • Randy Klear

      5 years ago he was dropping loud hints about being bored with the Senate. It was sort of understood that he was running for reelection in 2006 as a preliminary to a presidential run in 2008. The loss to Webb, and the complete mismanagement Allen showed in that loss, wrecked the presidential bandwagon.

      The GOP tends to be more forgiving of its losers than we are, though, and six years is time enough for them to forget. Allen is still the kind of Republican politician who can bridge the gap between their two major factions, the Tea Partiers and the religious right. Another run for President seems more logical, especially since “macaca” didn’t really hurt him with the Republican base.

      The only reason I can see for another Allen Senate bid is some inner need on his part to avenge his loss to Webb.

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      Shapiro is absolutely wrong when he insinuates that Jim Webb has no achievements to help him in his re-election. The G.I. Bill of Rights, his first priority as a newly elected senator, will have been in place for long enough by 2012 to give him a HUGE boost in Hampton Roads with the military there.

      I see no real downside to Jim Webb’s push for reform of our penal system, especially when state governments – in a bipartisan way – are cutting back on sentences for lesser crimes in order to save money. Plus, even in this time of economic stress, the crime rate in the nation continues to go down. The only time the “tough on crime” rhetoric works is in times of a rising crime rate. Crime as an issue doesn’t even register in polling right now.

      Allen is basically a spoiled jock, one who has a past that won’t go away. I doubt if Jim Webb really worries about that potential opponent.

      (It speaks volumes to me that the Republicans have to retread Allen as the front runner to take on Sen. Webb. Don’t they have anything better? Obviously not.)

    • VADEM

      Webb can’t run on his personality. Macaca has the schmooze factor for sure.

      Hey! Maybe Kookanelli could run!!!! Now that would be fun….and knowing the geniuses in this state he’d win.

    • jfontaine

      I said this in 2005 and I’ll say it again.  Look at who Allen beat in previous races.  Mary Sue Terry ran the worst campaign in Virginia history and Chuck Robb had been weakened by scandals and feuds with Doug Wilder.  There was always this myth that he was a great candidate, but he barely won even when he was facing weak opponents.  Besides there is no shortage of ambitious Republicans in Virginia who may be seeking the Senate seat if Webb looks beatable I doubt Allan will get the nomination.  Regardless of who is running against him Webb will win in a cakewalk.  

    • Jim Webb Dem

      George Allen is out there doing a good job of apologizing for his Macca moment. So good for him and his mea-culpa … I’m sorry and available for service tour. The goal of which is political rehabilitation prior to  another run for Governor. To run against Webb would be to risk a  Deeds/McDonnell scenario …. not the smart thing to do.

      Besides the person who wants a Senate seat prior to larger ambitions is Liz Cheney …. a virtual candidate today as is …. appearing on every talk show that the Sh!+he@d media allows. I don’t know how often you have to be dead wrong on an issue before the talking heads stop calling you …. but clearly she is out there campaigning on the sly … trying to rehabilitate her father’s image and the Cheney brand…. all to keep the option open for running for high office.

      Good Old Boy Allen would be competitive as a gubernatorial redo …. you know …. retro to the good old days.

      But the Republican machine will have to get a heavy hitter and lots of money into the race to unseat Jim Webb …. already a recognized leader in the Senate will a solid list of MEANINGFUL accomplishments.

      The only concern I have is if Jim Webb will run again? If judicial reform passes within the next two years …. maybe not. If that issue is still waiting in the wings …. Webb will see it through.

      Just my 2 cents.