James Webb - Born Ducking, Republican, etc.
As Carl has noted many times, James Webb has been ducking for about a month now. He proposed a debate with George Allen, but only focused on a couple topics, all of which would gain support from Democrats. Senator Allen, recognizing all Webb would do is pound more negativity in for each of these topics, offered a counter-proposal for the debate, adding in a number of other topics to discuss. And James Webb, rather than offering another idea for the format, slammed Allen and has been fairly quiet about the debate ever since.
Come to think of it, he's been fairly quiet for this entire campaign. Since the primary, George Allen has released a couple different television advertisements, as well as mail ads and radio spots (some of this material can be viewed at the George Allen campaign site). And James Webb has released a few television ads in northern Virginia. Oh wait, that is Josh Rales, a Democrat from Maryland who could be Michael Steele's opponent, who is slamming the GOP every chance he gets while still in the middle of primary season (and might I say, I never want to hear the name Josh Rales again). James Webb has basically been unheard from. And Democrats have run his campaign terribly. They made the same mistake they made in 2004 with John Kerry. He is not the guy to vote for, but rather where the vote goes while voting against the Republican candidate. Will they ever learn?
Outside of the War in Iraq, it does not seem that James Webb has any views on the state of the Commonwealth and our country. Or maybe he is just afraid that he will lose Democrat votes if he reveals too many of them too early. There is also the factor that James Webb is getting a beating (quite significantly, I might add) in money by George Allen, forcing Webb into the tough decision of holding onto money; he needs to spend now to up name recognition, but will not be able to put in a final kick if he runs out of money. He is polling well behind George Allen and, unlike Tim Kaine last year, does not appear to be making any apparent gains. Name recognition is low, money is low, gains are even lower. And if James Webb starts to look like nothing more than a DINO to his liberal supporters, turnout will not be swayed in his favor, even with the marriage amendment that will be on the ballot that will likely bring out the base for both Republicans and Democrats.
Ironically, James Webb's best shot right now may be to go head to head with Senator Allen on the senator's terms. As it appears that Webb may not be the Democrat he claims to be, his best shot may be to try to cut into Allen's numbers by taking independant and "moderate Republican" votes away while hoping enough Democrats will still vote for him knowing of his opposition of the War in Iraq. Otherwise, Webb will have to continue to chug along as a relative unknown and pray that the marriage amendment brings out many Democrats blindly voting party line.
One month of ducking. Three months left until the election. It is hard to believe that anyone thinks that this race will be competitive. But maybe we are simply not speaking their language.
UPDATE 7/23 12:40 AM: Apparently, James Webb does have some liberal views, while still appearing unclear in other areas.
On Iraq, Mr. Webb would not withdraw immediately, but neither would he manage things as President Bush has (unclear). He hedges on free trade and tax cuts (unclear). He is pro-choice (unfitting). He is pro-gay "marriage" (unfitting). He is anti-NSA wiretapping (unfitting). On some issues -- notably immigration and gun rights -- his words are on firmer conservative ground. But whether he would keep them as a member of the party of Howard Dean is unclear.Sounds fairly libertarian, but hardly a solid liberal, and certainly much of this is not very public knowledge as he remains focused on the key issue of Iraq.
Also, today was the first scheduled debate, not affiliated with the aforementioned debate. It appears to have taken the turn that was pushed for in the neglected debate. Webb focused on Iraq, Allen pushed Webb on other topics, including a number that Webb appears to have been unfamiliar with (though to be fair, Webb did at least admit as much rather than trying to make some sort of excuse). RK claims victory for James Webb, but this hardly seems like an objective opinion, instead probably trying to remain positive recognizing what is very much an uphill battle. But they do appear to have the text of the debate (which I presume has not been intentionally altered) here.