The Democrats picked Jim Webb to offer their response to the President’s State of the Union Address for the same reason they anointed him to face Republican Sen. George Allen in the November 2006 election: his opposition to the war in Iraq, which is bolstered by his surpassing valor in Vietnam.
The risible aspect of Webb’s sudden political ascendancy is that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans understood Webb during the campaign, and they don’t understand him now. The Republicans tried to portray Webb as a leftist for the same reason Democrats think he is one: their obsession with the war in Iraq and their fantasy that anyone who opposes the war must favor “marriage” for homosexuals.
An Allen campaign advertisement suggested as much, but the fact remains that, in the race for Virginia senator, the visceral conservative won. Of the two men who addressed the nation on January 23, the liberal spoke from the House floor. The conservative replied.
More interesting than Webb’s laconic answer, however, is Webb himself. In a campaign profile of Webb in the Weekly Standard, writer Andrew Ferguson called Webb a “blood-and-soil conservative,” which no one seemed to grasp despite Webb’s explaining himself in novels and his nonfiction history, Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. Observed Ferguson: “All...