Saturday, January 27, 2007

Unresponsive

I get the impression that Virginia Senator James Webb's performance rebutting (if you can call it that) the SOTU address has made him this week's Democratic party rock star (maybe I'd better run him through the Newsranker, just to be sure.) Jonathan Alter of Newsweek described him as exhibiting "muscular liberalism--with personal touches" and having a "military bearing and nonelitist tone that is appealing." Other members of the press have, I gather, weighed in similarly.

Now, pardon me for seeming peevish, but did we watch the same speech? I don't know where the press is getting these rhapsodies from--the romance of the moment must have clouded their eyes. To me, the guy looked stuffed. I've seen Charlie McCarthy look more natural, and animated. My mind kept wandering to a description I'd read of him as "a man who does not seem comfortable in his own skin;" the phrase captured what I saw perfectly. He mouthed the usual platitudes about the wage gap without noticeably seeming to give a genuine whoop-de-do about the working class; in fact, I could hardly get the feeling from his body language that anything about which he spoke affected him emotionally. That includes the Iraq war, in which (as we all know because he made a campaign issue of it) his son is serving as a Marine.

In short, I found Webb's performance ghastly. Were he and I of the same political inclination, I would feel the same way. I wouldn't want someone who comes off like an embittered idealogue purporting to speak for me.

It was oft remarked about erstwhile Republican presidential candidate Thomas Dewey (and misattributed to Alice Roosevelt Longworth:) "How can the Republican Party nominate a man who looks like the bridegroom on a wedding cake?" Similarly I wonder, and give thanks it's at least not my problem: how can the Democratic party rally behind a man with the vivacity and warmth of bronze statuary?

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