Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 9 2015. The U.S. presidency has great emotional appeal—but limited power where domestic politics are concerned. It is somewhat situation dependent, but I tend towards the view that the British system, based upon a prime minister, is more effective.




The prospective candidates are/or were (I’ll let you be the judge):


I’ll explain the back-stories in my memoirs! What I will say is that a successful author can gain extraordinary access—if he or she has the nerve and imagination to make use of it. In fact, it is one of the great privileges of being an author. It is unwritten—and has no legal standing—but it is widely understood that you have a license to investigate.

Let me stress that if you are intellectually curious—and have the nerve to make use of it—this is no small thing. It’s an amazing privilege.

You ask virtually anybody anything—with a good chance of getting a reply—if you are a fiction writer. They are reassured by the fact that what they say won’t end up in a book directly attributed to them—or if it does, it will be in a memoir or similar, and whatever they say will almost certainly be too far in the past by then for them, or anyone, to mind.

Quite where blogging fits into this is a good question—because, in a sense, that could make even a fiction author a kind of journalist. All I can say is that in my case, I respect the confidences I get while wearing my fiction writer’s hat and make it very clear if I am writing for the record (though, normally, I am not).

As it happens, I met Jim Webb when he was a client of my literary agency. Since I admire his work, I sought him out in Washington DC—and we became friendly.

Jim is notoriously stubborn, but he has demonstrated both his physical courage and his integrity numerous times over a long career—and would, I think, make an excellent president.

He is principled but not an ideologue, is extremely intelligent, and his worst enemies could not deny his leadership qualities. He also has the moral courage to raise difficult issues—even unpopular ones. For instance, he has been active in trying to do something about the U.S.’s disturbing incarceration policies.

Could he win, if chosen?

I have no doubt but that he could. He is an impressive man—and exposure would favor him. Right now, his name recognition—as a politician—would seem to be comparatively low.

Personally, I hope he goes back to writing. Though he is certainly politically ambitious, I suspect that writing is his first love—and he excels at it.

But, I have to admit that the prospect of becoming President of the United States—must be tempting..

The following is from a Facebook post sent to me by a friend.

Jim Webb

September 29 at 9:32pm ·

Jim Webb went on air last night with Fox Radio host Alan Colmes for an extended segment. Starting by acknowledging he wears the “long-shot” badge in the race for the Democratic nomination, the former senator from Virginia got right down to electability.

“I have very strong confidence that if we get the nomination, we will win {the general election}.”

Citing the deep history of polls at this stage being unable to predict election outcomes, Webb said, “When the hysteria dies down from all the verbal bombs that are being thrown back and forth, people are going to want to see that they will be able to elect a leader who has the track record and the vision to bring the country forward. That’s what we’re offering.”

On the Issues
Declining Colmes’ invitation to comment about allegations and scandals around others, Webb addressed the issues.

“What we represent is common sense and an ability to grab a hold of really tough issues like I did with criminal justice reform, like I did with the G.I. Bill. We put the best G.I. Bill in history through a very divided Congress, did it in 16 months as a brand new Senator. We can actually get things done, we can work across the aisle and we can do it in a way that takes on the hard issues that the country is facing right now.”

Asked whether he sees himself as the most conservative of the Democratic candidates, Webb spoke about his disdain for labels.

“I don’t know what it means to be liberal or conservative anymore. I study the issues. I have a strong sense of history… On some issues, if you were using labels, I am more conservative. On other issues, I am more to the left. So I don’t want to put labels either way on what we’re doing.”

“I have been one of the strongest voices, if not the strongest voice in terms to standing up to China,” Webb said.

“Standing up to its incremental expansionism and the sorts of activities that the Chinese government has taken against us. This is an unelected, authoritarian government. We have to treat them that way…when we negotiate with them.”

“The mistake that I believe we made in Syria and some of these other places in the Arab Spring is to be drawing some of these red lines that were unenforceable in reality…

“I’ll tell you what we shouldn’t be doing is putting troops on the ground over there. I warned about it beforehand, and I was saying Syria is going to be Lebanon on steroids. When I was a journalist in Beirut, you could see the divisions, the historic thousands of year old divisions in that part of the world. So we should be calling on, particularly, the Sunni nations in that region to step up and to do more, and also on the refugees’ situation in Syria, to do more. They’re not doing more, they’re simply trying to drop this on us and I think it’s appropriate for the President today to have said that he will work with the Russians in an attempt to stabilize the situation.”

Syrian refugees
“I think the Saudis should take more. I think people in the region should step up to try to stabilize Syria. And we should be very careful about bringing a large number of refugees here. I say that as someone, my wife is an immigrant and a refugee from the Communist takeover of South Vietnam. We have a large problem in our country right now in terms of resolving the immigration issue. For those who are truly political refugees in some way affiliated with what we’ve been doing, we should consider that.

“What we need to do is assert our influence in the region to get the Sunni nations to step up to truly stabilize the situation. I don’t think the Saudis have taken a single refugee.”

“We are obviously a nation that has benefited from immigration policies and the people who were able to come here. My wife is a classic example of that. Her family got on a boat when the Communists took over in Vietnam. Her entire extended family was at sea. They didn’t know if they were going to live or die. The death rate at sea was very high among the boat people. She went to two refugee camps and ended up going to Cornell Law School.

“That is the power of allowing people come here who really want to be Americans and to participate in our society. I supported that in the immigration bill in 2007.”

While in the U.S. Senate, Webb introduced an amendment to that bill which would have created a path to citizenship for those who had been in the country for at least five years, at that point, and “have put down roots and have demonstrated you’re part of the community.”

Senator Webb voted in favor of the Dream Act.

“But we need to sort this out. You cannot have a country if you don’t have borders that are defined and maintained. That’s where we need to go in the future.”

Pope Francis
“His visit was such a powerful human and spiritual experience for people here that it will help as we try to get people to work together in our political process.”

Webb’s biggest take away from the visit, “We really need to work together to solve the problems that are affecting our country instead of falling back into these false and sometime artificial debates that are designed simply to bring money into the coffers of people who are trying to run for office.”

Can you beat Trump?
“We have so much support from independents and even Republicans, that if I were to get the nomination, I really feel strongly that we will win – and win big.”

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