Watching the Senate Rot in Slow Motion

First of all, I'm really glad we elected Jim Webb a Senator from Virginia. He has worked on some essential topics, including military contracting, Iran and prisons, that few politicians will touch. And he's far better than the racist and somewhat sadistic George Allen, who in his youth apparently used to beat people with pool cues.

That said, Webb has been incredibly underwhelming as a Senator; his response to the State of the Union last year was stunningly good, with a promise that Democrats would show Bush a different path if he refused to change policies on Iraq. Unfortunately, there was no follow-through whatsoever, and Webb's credibility has been shot full of holes, with bad votes on FISA, tax policy, and censuring Moveon members like me (AliceDem in the comments reminds us of his poor votes on the Peru Free Trade agreement and his letter asking the FCC to allow more media consolidation). He has in some ways become a sad joke of a figure, a heroic figure neutered by his own deference to the authoritarians he ran against and at one point in his life, worked for. He endorsed George Allen and George Bush in 2000, and in some ways, he still does.

I expect him to be a great Senator one day, but as of yet, this environment is designed precisely around his weaknesses, not his strengths. Though he is willing to take on tough issues, he is unable to make any progress. Military contracting, Iran, the Webb amendment on Iraq - all have been stymied, with record disapproval from the public against Democrats for their failures. It's as if he cannot bring himself to use actual leverage against the Commander-in-Chief, because that's not how one does business.

What I find especially interesting is how his failed leadership has had such a devastating impact on his staff. Mark Levine details a conversation he had with a Webb staffer on the FISA legislation. It's a long and interesting conversation, and it shows how frustrated this staffer really is at the pressure received about his vote on this and other matters. As it happens, I have worked a bit with this staffer, and I like her very much, but it is clear that the lack of dialouge from Webb with the liberals who got him elected has created a tense and difficult environment and filtered down.

#story_page_post_article

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.