Senator James Webb has had a very productive term in the United States Senate. If the only accomplishment that he could point to was passage of the 21st Century GI Bill, he would still stand head and shoulders above the majority of his Senate colleagues, many of whom are lucky to get a single significant piece of legislation passed when they serve three or four terms, let alone one.
His decision to leave the Senate must have been a deeply personal one because he leaves a lot of unfinished business behind and he goes back to the private sector when his voice is needed even more.
This sort of thing goes a little over the top, however:
To get elected to the Senate, you have to meet certain requirements. You have to be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for nine years, and a resident of the state you represent. Based on Jim Webb's recent performance, I would like to propose a fourth requirement: you have to be a novelist. If we had 100 novelists in the Senate, the body might finally be able, like Webb, to distinguish fact from fiction.
Webb, a Virginia Democrat who has published six novels, announced in February that he wouldn't run for a second term in the Senate. Never a reticent fellow, he has spent the last few months being even more outspoken than usual. On Afghanistan, East Asian security policy, and Libya, Webb has challenged the fictions of the Obama administration. It's refreshing to hear a critical voice in a body characterized these days by compliant Democrats and posturing Republicans.
Consider Webb's views on the use of military force. Last week, he teamed up with Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee to introduce a resolution calling on the president to justify its military actions in Libya. The administration, according to the War Powers Act, must report to Congress 60 days after initiating a military conflict. More than 80 days have passed since the initial attacks in Libya.
The president has argued that he has abided by the War Powers Act by consulting with Congress. In a stinging speech last week, Webb firmly disagreed: "The president followed no clear historical standard when he unilaterally decided to use force in Libya. Once this action continued beyond his definition of 'days, not weeks' he did not seek the approval of Congress. And while he has discussed this matter with some members of Congress, he clearly has not formally conferred with the legislative branch."I can't fault Webb for leaving the Senate, but now is not the time to grandstand on foreign policy. If he felt so strongly about these things, he wouldn't have retired in the first place. What's a lame duck Senator going to do anyway?
In an article that all but deifies the good Senator, John Feffer fails to display any kind of objectivity or clarity on the one thing that matters here--if Senator Webb is such a force for good, why is he leaving when the good that he could do is all the more important given where we are at right now as a country? I'm thankful for Senator Webb's public service. It's a pity he has chosen to leave when his voice is needed right now.