In the race for the Senate from Virginia, staunchly conservative incumbent George Allen (R) is pitted against novelist and former Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb (D) and long-shot candidate Gail Parker (IG). Allen was Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1994-1998 and is vying for his second term in the Senate.
Parker’s third-party campaign is easily dismissed outright following a brief review of her web site. Like many other candidates fielded this year under the Independent Green banner, her stances are presented one-dimensionally and lack detail. Parker’s ‘Common Sense Solutions’ (on a website barely usable in most browsers) are, essentially, to build-up our rail transit system in Virginia and balance the federal budget. Few details are given on how either of these noble goals would be accomplished, or where Parker stands on any of the other relevant issues affecting us today.
On the most important domestic issues, the two remaining candidates do not exhibit strong differences. Allen and Webb both support free trade in principal, but seek to ensure that free trade is fair trade. Both candidates have valid ideas for improving the No Child Left Behind act and ensuring that its mandates are appropriately funded. Both seek innovative new methods of improving the availability of health insurance. Both seek to secure our borders against illegal immigration as a first priority, followed by addressing the illegal immigrants already here and creation of any guest worker programs.
But probably the most important issue that will face our Congress in the coming years is the War in Iraq, and here Allen and Webb have significant differences.
Webb proposes an interesting solution to American involvement in Iraq. First, he proposes an unequivocal declaration that the United States has no interest in maintaining a permanent presence in Iraq, and posits this would “take the moral high ground away from the insurgency in the eyes of the Muslim world.” This would be followed by a strategic withdrawal of our troops to other countries in the region (like Jordan and Kuwait), allowing us to contain the terrorist threat within Iraq without a full-scale occupation. Then, once we are sure the withdrawal is working, we could bring our troops home.
Meanwhile, Webb proposes, we would engage in discussions with countries that are “culturally and historically invested in Iraq” to get them to take responsibility for quelling the insurgency and brokering peace.
The problem is that Webb’s proposal is gibberish. Gibberish that sounds good, granted, but gibberish none-the-less. The idea that a mere declaration that we don’t intend to stay in Iraq would “take the moral high ground away from the insurgency in the eyes of the Muslim world” and somehow change the reality on the ground is a laughable fiction. The idea that our military could (or should) contain a festering terrorist insurgency from bases hundreds of miles away in neighboring countries is even more laughable. And finally, the idea that other Islamic countries would broker peace between warring factions in Iraq is the most laughable of them all—it is those same countries (particularly Iran and Syria) that are contributing to the perpetuation of violence in Iraq, either through active support or strategic ignorance.
What becomes evident upon reading Webb’s stances on foreign policy is that Webb has presented to the voters of Virginia a series of creative delusions—fictions that would be more appropriate in one of his novels than in a Senatorial campaign. This opinion is reinforced by his attempt to fake an endorsement from former President Ronald Reagan (R) in an ad—an ad which Webb’s campaign refused to pull even after Reagan’s widow, Nancy, requested it. Talk about sleazy.
Allen is hardly the perfect candidate. His stances on Iraq are little more than a rubber-stamp on Bush Administration policies which, while better than the ‘cut-and-run’ defeatism of many Democrats or the dream-world blathering of Jim Webb, leave much room for improvement. His support of Virginia’s ill-advised marriage amendment and support for a federal flag-burning amendment give me pause.
But, ultimately, it is better to have a Senator who is sometimes wrong than a Senator who thinks his constituents are stupid enough to believe that declaring “We’re not planning to stay in Iraq” will somehow quell a terrorist insurgency. Jim Webb seems to think we’re that stupid, so I firmly endorse the reelection of Senator George Allen.