Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Audacity Of Dopes: Tangled Up In A Confederate Webb

There has been a lot of discussion of late as to whether Senator Jim Webb would make a good Vice Presidential partner to Barack Obama on the Democratic ticket, and the various pros and cons behind that determination. Chances are, David Mark of The Politico has hit upon the thing that will put the kibosh on any such designs:

Barack Obama’s vice presidential vetting team will undoubtedly run across some quirky and potentially troublesome issues as it goes about the business of scouring the backgrounds of possible running mates. But it’s unlikely they’ll find one so curious as Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb’s affinity for the cause of the Confederacy.

Webb is no mere student of the Civil War era. He’s an author, too, and he’s left a trail of writings and statements about one of the rawest and most sensitive topics in American history.

He has suggested many times that while the Confederacy is a symbol to many of the racist legacy of slavery and segregation, for others it simply reflects Southern pride. In a June 1990 speech in front of the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, posted on his personal website, he lauded the rebels’ “gallantry,” which he said “is still misunderstood by most Americans.”
While I am a Southerner, and not the least bit ashamed of that, you'll not find in me someone who's eager to venerate the Stars and Bars or, indeed, the secession of the Southern states. Do I think that everyone who wants to preserve the Confederate flag is a dyed in the wool racist? As a matter of fact, I don't. But I don't think of the flag as a vital symbol of Southern "pride," and it's certainly not worth the very real pain and anxiety and, yes, FEAR it causes the people who recognize it as a symbol of racial terrorism. I have always been utterly perplexed by the people who insist that this banner fly - who want to reap some paltry symbolic gain at such great expense, but then, I'm perplexed by all manner of people who fail to see the pointlessness of standing on principles that achieve no real positive outcome whilst inflicting all manner of harm on people.

So, for Webb, this is real third-rail stuff that could likely keep him from being seriously considered for the vice-presidency. And yet...I can't help but think that in a perfect world - or at least a less imperfect world where the discourse is not set upon on all sides by the tyranny of seething dumbasses - this information would, and should, actually make Webb the ideal partner on a ticket of "post-racial" reconciliation. One of the things that has made Webb seem like could be an appealing ambassador for Obama, at the very least, to all the rural and Appalachian outposts he has famously struggled to reach, is that the Virginia Senator has very clearly grokked the complexity of Obama's famous "A More Perfect Union" speech, and has demonstrated a willingness to step up and advance that ball himself. So while on a superficial level, these revelations (such as they are) would appear to be an impediment, I still think a partnership would be a riveting way to demonstrate a faith in their convictions, and prove that there are truths they hold to be self-evident.

But feh. We need Webb in that Senate seat, anyway.

1 comment:

Clayton said...

Has he said anything specifically about the confederate flag? The statements you quote above don't seem that outlandish or untrue. They're probably not worth saying, but otherwise harmless.