Monday, September 18, 2006


Dixie Debate

The Virginia candidates met on Sunday's Meet The Press. While there were no devastating blows delivered by either side, Jim Webb came out looking pretty good.

Actual show can be
seen here.

The fact that so much of the hour was devoted to Iraq played to Webb's strength. He came across as bit too technical in his jargon at times, but at the same time, he also seemed clearly in control of the facts --especially when the discussion was about military bases in Iraq .

While Allen seemd like he was closer to Warner-McCain-Graham-Powell positiion on the tribunals/torture issue than Bush's, he danced around the issue, while Webb was unequivocal in his support of the current Geneva Convention definitions.

Webb also fielded the questions about women in the military pretty well: He talked about what he did as Secretary of the Navy (in contrast to the words in an article years before) -- forming a commission to figure out the best way to incorporate women into the service. Indeed, his fairly straightforward defense of his written comments from a quarter-century ago, seemed to wring pretty true (Russert gets extra points, though, for digging up a Weekly Standard piece from 1997 that raised some similar issues about the readiness question.

For me, I wonder how much it plays in military-minded Virginia to have a veteran say that he had doubts about how women should be mainstreamed into combat and leadership positions in armed services and discussed those concerns at the time (albeit too bluntly). If George Allen is hoping that this debate turns out to be a "Swift Boat Veterans For Truth" anchor for Webb, he had
better just move on.

Webb, actually, could have done even better. He could have delivered a killer blow on Allen's "Macaca", but instead rambled about his relatives in Southwest Virginia. He still needs to learn how to render a devastating one-line soundbite. Allen was very defensive on that issue -- even though Russert didn't press him as much as could have (for example, he didn't ask Allen about the fact that "Macaca" was a slur about dark-skinned people in French -- a language Allen speaks fluently.

Regardless, any national Democrats being introduced to Webb for the first time should have come away with a favorable impression -- and possibly a willingness to send him money.

UPDATE: Kos indicates that, as I surmised, Webb's fundraising got a big boost from MTP. Meanwhile, the GOP-leaning Rasmussen polling organization notes a shift toward Democrats in Senate races. Rasmussen also notes a slowing of whatever momentum there had been in Bush's positive approval rating.

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