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Video: Jim Webb (and Chuck Todd) on Meet the Press Make Some…Uh, Dubious Claims, Arguments

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Just a few quick comments for now about Jim Webb’s interview this morning with Chuck(les) Todd on Meet the Press. First, Chuck is ridiculous as always, doing his “both sides” false equivalency crap, also claiming that “centrists” and “moderates” (whatever those words mean exactly) are a “rare and dying breed,” that the “center has been hollowed out” (only true in the Republican Party, Chuck), etc. Gack, teh stupid, it burnz…

Second, I agree in some ways that the U.S. political system needs a “jolt,” but Donald Trump is certainly NOT a “jolt” that will make anything better. Also, I’d point out that the Republican Party is the insurgent, outlier, extremist party in America, while the Democratic Party is actually the mainstream, majority party (note that Clinton won 2.9 million more votes than Trump and that on issue after issue, in poll after poll, Dems are in the majority or plurality).

Third, this is just nonsensical: “if Hillary Clinton had won you would be seeing the same sort of activities that you’re seeing now.” Yes, right wingers would be demonizing Clinton, but not because of anything she DID, simply because of who she IS. In stark contrast, Democrats are angry, upset and fearful of Trump because of what he says he’ll do and what he’s ACTUALLY doing. Huge difference.

Fourth, there is zero evidence that Democrats have moved “very far to the left.” Now, Democrats did reject Jim Webb, which is more to the point — the guy is bitter, angry, and feels hurt/rejected because Democrats didn’t recognize his supposed brilliance and nominate him (or even support him in any significant numbers) during his brief, non-serious run for president in 2015. As Webb’s apparent object of admiration, Donald Trump, likes to say: SAD!

Finally, I agree with Webb that Democrats need to figure out a way to win back white, working class voters, and also to deemphasize/ditch “identity politics,” but I disagree with his implication that we should abandon our commitment to fighting for those in this country of all races, creeds, ethnicities, sexual orientations, etc.

Your thoughts?

Here’s a transcript:

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, my next guest is part of a rare and dying breed, a centrist and a moderate. A moderate Democrat. Jim Webb was secretary of navy under Republican President Ronald Reagan. He voted for George W. Bush over Al Gore. But by 2006 he had switched parties to become a Democrat and he won a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia. Jim Webb takes a somewhat more optimistic view of the potential for a Trump presidency. And he joins me now, Senator Webb, welcome back to the show.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Well, nice to be here.

CHUCK TODD:

So let’s put some context to your words when you wrote an op-ed right before, literally the day before the inauguration in the Wall Street Journal. And it was mostly on foreign policy where you were saying, “There’s something about his election is a jolt the system needed or a shock that it needed.” What –explain.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Well, you know, in so many words here. I didn’t say that the system needed a President Trump. But I’ve been saying for a long time that the system that we’re operating under needs some sort of a, you would call it, jolt. You know, I think both parties have sort of gotten calcified.

And let’s remember that if Hillary Clinton had won you would be seeing the same sort of activities that you’re seeing now. They would just be focused on different things. There would be people out there saying she belonged in jail. There would be people talking about corruption. Turnstile government, et cetera, et cetera.

So what we’re seeing playing out right now, first of all, as the governor mentioned this is a new administration, you know, getting its wheels under it. But at the same time, this is an attempt by President Trump to pull different types of people into the system from the old turnstile government. There’s a lot of Republicans that are mad at him who are sitting out there in the think tanks thinking that they were going to come into a Republican administration.

And also he’s got a payback I think that he feels strongly about in terms of the people who actually put him over, these voters that were alienated, were not voting. And these issues, controversial issues, that he’s putting out in a wrong kind of forum I think are issues of credibility. On the Democrats, first of all, they’re looking at 2018. And they don’t have a message. They don’t have a–

CHUCK TODD:

Speak to them as they, by the way.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

–well, you know.

CHUCK TODD:

You don’t say we. Is there a reason?

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

I’m not in the system right now as, you know, I’m over here with you right now–

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough. Okay.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

–bit of my life as a writer and a journalist. And it’s a good place to be about making these observations.

CHUCK TODD:

Then welcome back. And finish the observation.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Well, you know, there is a campaign going on on the Hill, in the media, in the academia to personally discredit not only Donald Trump but the people who are around him. And, you know, the end result of this really is try and to slow down the process, by the way. You and I were talking a minute ago about the confirmation process, it’s slow it down so that by 18 when the Democrats are very vulnerable particularly in the Senate they will not be a record of accomplishment that they can run against.

And at the same time the Democratic Party over the past five or six years has moved very far to the left. You know, when you can’t have a Jefferson/Jackson dinner which was the primary, you know, celebratory event of the Democratic Party for years because Jefferson and Jackson were slaveholders, they were also great American in their day, something just different has happened to the Democratic Party.

CHUCK TODD:

You think that they’re too focused on identity politics?

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Well, I think that the message that has been shaped by the Democratic Party has been shaped toward identity politics. And they’ve lost the key part of their base, the people in, you know, my family history goes back to the Roosevelt Democrats, the people who believed that regardless of any of these identity segments you need to have a voice in a quarters of power for those who have no voice. And we’ve lost that with the Democratic Party. I’m not saying the Republicans have it. But–

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say the center’s been hollowed out. You can make an argument that the political center in both parties, because right now if you espouse that you were running for reelection, any Democrat were espousing what you just espoused which is, you know what, look, essentially you’re saying, hey, start working with him a little bit, accept the fact that he’s President, you’d get primaried. And you’d probably lose.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Well, true. Well, I don’t know about–

CHUCK TODD:

I understand you, but I’m saying Democratic incumbent.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Generally, you know.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

That is a danger to people who would say those sorts of things. But the Democrats have not done the kind of self-reflection that they should have starting 2010. And I was talking about this in the ’10 elections. You’ve lost white working people. You’ve lost flyover land.

And you saw in this election what happens when people get frustrated enough that they say, “I’m not going take this aristocracy.” You know, Bernie, good friend of mine. Bernie can talk about aristocracies all he wants. You know, the fact that you’ve made money doesn’t make you a member of that philosophy. Look at Franklin Roosevelt. But there is an aristocracy now that pervades American politics. It’s got to be broken somehow in both parties. And I think that’s what the Trump message was that echoed so strongly in these flyover communities.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you on the election, you stayed away from saying who you supported in the election. I know that Tim Kaine is somebody you have a lot of respect for. I can’t imagine you didn’t vote for him.

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

I voted for Tim Kaine for Senator.

CHUCK TODD:

For Senator. At the end of the day, are you comfortable with your vote, with whoever you voted for?

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

I’m comfortable for my vote and my vote is private to me. But at the same time, you know, I will say that I did not endorse Hillary Clinton. I had a lot of the concerns that, you know, people in my group that I’ve grown up with have. And the Democratic Party’s got to do some real, hard looks at whether or not they are going to expand and get back working people who used to be the core of their party.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you done with politics?

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

I’m over here with you right now.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I will leave it there. Senator Jim Webb apparently coming back to the journalism world. We’d welcome you back–

FMR SEN. JIM WEBB:

Thank you.

  • Kip Malinosky

    I am mostly agree with Lowell and would add these questions:
    Where was Jim Webb on fighting for unions with the employee free choice act in the Senate?

    Where is Jim Webb on fighting for the folks in Appalachia who get needed health care through the Affordable Care Act?

    Where is Jim Webb on fighting for folks in Appalachia who can now be poisoned by coal ash being dumped in their streams?

    Does Jim Webb realize that Andrew Jackson in addition to removing the Cherokees caused the worst economic recession until the great Depression?

    Also why is Chuck Todd interviewing him? I name a 100 more influential Democrats to interview.

    Democrats fight for everyone who isn’t super rich. That means standing up for people in Appalachia and it means standing up for people who aren’t white as well.

    • Great questions, Kip! The answers: 1) got me; 2) got me; 3) got me; 4) yes, and that’s even more disturbing about him; 5) agreed, and also why is a doofus like Chuck(les) hosting a Sunday morning news show in the first place?

  • A_Siegel

    Once, I had the greatest of respect for Jim Webb — from Vietnam service, to eloquent writing, to high ethics, to passion re solving America’s problems.

    Sadly, the basis for that respect began to wither from early in his Senate term and has dissipated to something closer to disdain. (See, for example, http://getenergysmartnow.com/2010/01/16/dear-senator-webb-it-isnt-the-murky-air-act/ )

    In addition to comments introducing post,

    [a] WEBB “if Hillary Clinton had won you would be seeing the same sort of activities that you’re seeing now.” That is ALTERNATIVE FACT world — while there would a rousing RWSM mafia screaming about her but here are some things that wouldn’t be ‘the same’: (a) there would have not have been >4x more people protesting her the day after the inauguration than attended the inauguration; (b) we wouldn’t be seeing mass wellings of truly popular outrage over essentially a new issue ever day; (c) we would be seeing very serious resources being through into investing Clinton over absurdities by Rep Chaffetz rather than the running from oversight related to very serious things (including the potential of treasonous activities by members in the White House that he/the GOP is doing right now; (d) the intelligence community wouldn’t be keeping key intel away from the President from fear that it would be handed over to the Russians; (e) the nation’s science community would not be mobilizing in opposition to anti-science ideas; etc…. etc … Webb is suggesting a false equivalency here that is just as bad as ‘everybody does it’.

    [b] Through Webb’s ‘non-endorsement’ of Clinton, he owns Trump essentially as much as Bannon. Rather than work to get her elected — and work to get her to work toward good policy/policies/programs as he saw them — he undermined Clinton’s chances ‘among his people’, who were duped by Bannon/lousy media coverage and the Russians into voting for the meglomaniacal narcissist now in the Oval Office who is creating a kleptocratic kakistocracy that could mean the end of the Republic.

  • TheVirginia

    Waking up that morning in 2006 and learning that Webb had beat Allen was one of the best victories I can recall. Webb immediately pushed back against Bush, talked white Appalachia stuff a lot, decided not to run again, and it kept getting weirder. His run for presidency last year was odd. I don’t know why Todd had him on at this time because Webb is totally irrelevant, but when you compare Todd’s interview of Stephen Miller to GeorgeStephanopoulos’s interview with Miller, the problem is more apparently Todd and not the irrelevant Webb.

    • Makaka

      Remember, Webb didn’t beat Allen, Makaka did.

      • TheVirginia

        You might be right. If the same race had occurred 2016, and Allen had said,”Makaka” I doubt it would have gone against him. Decade later, but decades back in what is acceptable

  • God b watching U

    You asked for thoughts from the field:

    Well we’ve asked you in blogs several times – just as we’ve asked Virginia Democratic Party officials several times – to know the culturally competent/culturally capable communications plan that will build on common values across all parts of Virginia in order to be purposefully productive: 1. to build communities of common values in EVERY district; that 2. bring forward excellent candidates and that nourish them, from local support and local money, arising from those common values; that 2. win local elections and District elections in as many Districts as needed to comfortably win and keep the House?

    Nothing yet. Haven’t heard a thing back from the State Party. Nothing. Nah- huh! Nothing.

  • Fiendish Elf Strider

    This interview, and the panel that followed, were infuriating.

  • Militiades

    You are dreaming if you think that Republicans would be protesting a Clinton presidency to the degree the democrats are protesting. It would have been more like what they did when Obama was elected in 2008. I leaned Democrat for ages but the identity politics finally burnt me out on them. As an aside, what did Martin Luther Kings widow really think about illegal immigration? Don’t take the website’s word for it. Read the actual letter. The Democrats are not for working people if their plan is to constantly add foreign workers to a domestic labor pool. They work to lower wages. The King letter is below.

    http://dailycaller.com/2017/02/09/the-coretta-scott-letter-on-immigration-no-dem-wants-to-read-in-congress/