November 30, 2006
The United States Senate is regarded as "the greatest deliberative body on Earth," and is renowned as a forum in which differences of opinion can be expressed in a polite way. Consensus is the supreme value, which is why there are so many procedural rules requiring a supermajority (usually 60 out of 100 votes) to pass a given measure. Dignified statesmen of both parties have thrived here, from Everett Dirksen and John Warner on the Republican side, to Sam Ervin and Pat Moynihan on the Democratic side. The norm of mutual respect has been sorely tested by the raging fires of partisanship in recent years, however, and come January it will be put under even more stress as Virginia's new senator Jim "Born Fighting" Webb is sworn in. At a reception for new senators at the White House last week, Webb rudely rebuffed a friendly greeting from President Bush. The Washington Post story on that incident raises big doubts about the hot-tempered Webb's fitness to serve in the U.S. Senate. What's more, the prolific author has made a series of statements on the war and other policy issues that are breathtakingly hyperbolic, if not false. George Will noted in his column today, Webb "has become a pompous poseur and abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator." I have a feeling many Virginians are going to regret sending this guy to Washington, replacing George Allen. As our nation strives to overcome the daunting challenge of the difficult war in Iraq, we need senators and representatives who are committed to national unity, not a bunch of prima donnas with chips on their shoulders.
Ironically, Webb defeated Allen in Buchanan County, on the border with Kentucky where Allen made his infamous "macaca" gaffe back in August, "welcoming" Webb campaign aide S.R. Sidarth to America and the "real world of Virginia." Allen won in nearly all of the other counties outside of metropolitan areas.