Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Democrats, the South, and vice presidents

So Jim Webb said something "sympathetic" about the Confederacy. That a descendant of a Confederate officer and a Virginian could dare say anything sympathetic about the Civil War South is not really earth-shattering news. Here's another blockbuster: American blacks admire Martin Luther King, Jr.

What Webb said was that the southern cause was laudable. Re-read that again if you need to. He says it was a laudable cause, not "Slavery was right" or "I want all the southern states to secede again and burn Washington for revenge against Sherman's 'March to the Sea.'" After all, the Confederacy was not just about slavery. Southerns were passionate about what they perceived as an over-reaching and intrusive federal government that they believed was abusing its powers.

But this babbling is not about slavery. Discussion of that abhorrence is for another day. So I ask, why is this issue about the Confederacy such a big deal?

Barack Obama has serious problems in the South, that's why. Well, at least in southern states that don't have a majority of black constituents. The South is important for Obama because Democrats who don't win the South don't win the presidency. When their party lurched to the left and became gun-controlling elitists, they lost the South to the GOP. Democrats are making inroads in the South again, in large part because they are running candidates who are pro-life, protectors of gun rights, and are church-goers. In other words, the Dems swiped the issues that got Republicans elected in the South for the last generation and the old Confederacy is beginning to turn blue again.

So why are both parties dumping on Jim Webb? The Republicans actually have a good reason to be ablaze. When Webb was elected in 2006, it was at the expense of George Allen, another Virginian who said sympathetic things about the Confederacy himself and admitted to having Confederate memorabilia. Hardly grounds for treason but it was enough to sweep out one of the GOP's top political fighters.

As for the Democrats, Webb has credentials that play well in the South. While the senator is pro-choice, he is also a Second Amendment enthusiast and has executive bona fides from his days as Ronald Reagan's Navy Secretary. But the Democrats are also invested in racial politics and political corretness that no one can utter a word about the South or the Confederacy that does not label either its participants or descendants as moral reprobates. No one can honestly believe Jim Webb looks at our nation's (Yes, our nation, because at one point there was slavery in all of the states of the Union) "peculiar institution" with loving and reminiscent affection. The Confederate military was populated by farm kids, the college-educated, Christians, and yes, even some moral reprobates fighting to save the institution of slavery.

But now the Democrats are backing themselves into a corner with their nominee. Jim Webb probably won't be able to be VP because of this "racial baggage" and "Civil Rights quandry" and on top of that, Ohio Democratic governor Ted Strickland said in so many words that he would definitely not accept the VP nomination. And on top of that, Obama's chief in charge of finding that elusive VP, Jim Johnson, resigned under pressure due to some dubious ties to financial corporations, just another in a long line of contacts and friends who show Obama's poor judgment. The closer he gets to the general election, more people who could be his vice president keep falling from the pack for one reason or another.

It's 3am and a phone rings. "Hello? Hillary? I need someone to run as vice president with me."

No comments: