A few thoughts from Jim Webb’s interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press this morning.
1. I’m glad to see Chuck Todd disclosing that his wife, Kristian Denny Todd, worked on Jim Webb’s 2006 U.S. Senate campaign (as communications director). Just get that right out of the way, not that it should be an issue or anything.
2. I strongly agree with Jim Webb that we’re at a crossroads as a nation in terms of economic fairness – “if you’ve got capital you’re feeling pretty good,” but “average salaries have gone down” – namely, whether or not we continue the path we’ve been on since the early 1980s (the era of Ronald Reagan’s “trickle down,” “supply side,” “voodoo economics” insanity) into a nation where the rich get richer and everyone else gets squeezed, poorer, etc. I also agree with Webb that this is a huge problem, and would argue that the situation’s gotten significantly worse since Webb talked about it in 2006.
3. I agree with Webb that we haven’t had a super-clear articulation of U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. On the other hand, the removal of the Soviet Union and containment of Communism as an organizing principle, combined with the rise of other nations/power centers like China, India, Brazil, etc., was almost certain to lead to that muddy result. Does Jim Webb have a unifying, organizing principle for U.S. foreign policy? If so, I’d love to hear it, but his own record is full of contradictions, so we’ll see…
4. Chuck Todd does the usual faux-narrative-construction b.s. as he tries to frame what Jim Webb’s saying about the U.S. not having a clear foreign policy doctrine as criticizing President Obama. In fact, Webb’s saying we haven’t had this for a “very long time,” since the end of the Cold War, which last I checked was during the latter years of the Reagan administration and the early days of the George HW Bush administration.
See the “flip” for more.
5. Chuck Todd frantically tries to maneuver Webb into criticizing Hillary Clinton, but Webb avoids it (good for him), focusing instead, as he should, on what his own priorities are.
6. I could really do without Webb’s false equivalence about “top leaders in BOTH parties” being responsible for not getting stuff done for the American people. Let me just quote Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein on this one — “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.” No, I’m not arguing that Democrats are perfect — far from it — but Republicans have morphed into an obstructionist, far-right-wing, ultra-ideological force in this country, and it’s a huge problem.
7. I DO agree with Webb that he isn’t a classic “left/right” thinker. He cares about what he cares about (e.g., economic justice, social fairness, criminal justice reform), and he doesn’t fit neatly into left-right pigeonholes on a wide variety of issues.
8. On gay marriage, Webb reminds everyone that there was an anti-gay-marriage amendment on the ballot in Virginia in 2006, “and I opposed that.” He adds, “I’m really comfortable with where the evolution has gone here.” Chuck Todd then tries yet again to put words in Webb’s mouth, asking “so legal in some places but not legal in others?” (which Webb didn’t say). Webb reiterates, “I think this has been a good thing for the country.” Somehow, out of that, the Meet the Press folks come up with the headline, “Jim Webb Says States Deciding Gay Marriage Is Best.” Which I certainly didn’t hear him say on Meet the Press this morning. But whatever, don’t let the facts stand in the way of a Sunday morning news anchor hell-bent on pushing his pet political narrative(s).
9. Yet another interview, yet ANOTHER lost opportunity to ask about the single most important issue (by far) facing humanity – climate change. At this point, I’ve concluded that the Chuck Todds of the world either simply don’t “get it” and/or that they are terrified of offending powerful fossil-fuel interests. I really can’t think of any other explanation, but it needs to stop IMMEDIATELY.