Thursday, November 16, 2006

Billmon and Jim Webb are "now on the roughly same side on the big issues of the day"

If that's true then, as Billmon writes, "it tells you something has fundamentally changed in American politics".
... instead, nearly two decades later, Webb's now the newly elected Senator from my native state (a stronghold of the Confederacy and the national "right-to-work" movement) who's lined up shoulder to shoulder with Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi and is writing op eds for the Wall Street Journal explicitly calling for what the Republican chattering classes sneeringly condemn as "class warfare":


That's beautiful stuff. Paul Wellstone could have written it. So could Bernie Sanders, although Bernie actually might find it a little too radical for his tastes. But the last person -- well, almost the last person -- on earth I would expect to emerge as a tribune of good old-fashioned New Deal populism (or, dare I say it, democratic socialism) is fightin' Jim Webb, Ronald Reagan's favorite Marine.

Not only that, but Webb's now against the war -- just like us unreconstructed '60s (or, in my case, '70s) radicals. I just hope he doesn't mind being tarred as a stabber of backs or a spitter on the troops by the modern-day equivalents of the old Jim Webb. It kind of goes with the territory.

If this is the new Democratic "conservatism" the Washington punditburo keeps bleating about, then all I can say is three cheers for conservatism. But Webb's op ed definitely left me with a profound case of political vertigo. My sense of direction (this way is left; that way is right) is getting pretty scrambled. Former Reagan cabinet officers now sound like Abby Hoffman. Connecticut Senators who started out trying to impeach Richard Nixon now sound like John Mitchell. Where's it going to end?

I don't know. But if Jim Webb and I are now on the roughly same side on the big issues of the day -- the war, globalization, corporate power, economic fairness, social justice -- it tells you something has fundamentally changed in American politics. It may not be a realignment (a political system this polluted and decrepit may not be capable of such a thing) but when Senators from Virginia start talking like Walter Reuther, it sure the hell isn't business as usual.


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