Over the past couple of weeks, I've been seeing little things here and there about the possibility of Virginia Senator Jim Webb, the Democratic convert who beat George "Macaca" Allen in 2006, being a great potential running mate for Obama, provided he's the nominee. Yesterday, there was a piece in the New York Observer, "What Jim Webb Is Worth to Obama," that detailed the pros and cons of an Obama-Webb ticket, ultimately finding: "[I]n a national campaign, what seemed dull in '06 might instead register as sober, responsible and reassuring. And, really, when the Republicans start calling him a weakling and a lightweight, is there anyone Obama would rather have by his side than Jim Webb?"
Not mentioned, of course, is that Webb's baggage includes a 1979 essay in the Washingtonian, "Women Can't Fight," in which Webb argued that there was no place for women in combat and therefore no place for them at the Naval Academy. (What's rarely been cited from that piece is his alarming claim that rape and domestic violence against women are attributable to "the realignment of sexual roles." Um, wow.) Webb also penned a piece for The Weekly Standard in 1997, "The War on the Military Culture," in which he said: "Political and military leaders must have the courage to ask clearly in what areas our current policies toward women in the military are hurting, rather than helping, the task of defending the United States."
And despite the widely-disseminated talking point issued by the Dems that Webb doesn't believe that shit anymore, he wasn't exactly running away from it with fervent regret when asked about it on Meet the Press in 2006:
Russert: Now you issued a statement, said, "to the extent my writing caused hardship," you were sorry. And Ms. Murray has sent me a letter saying, "That's not enough." It's not to the extent that "my writing caused hardship." The content of the article was just plain wrong, and Mr. Webb should say that. Do you agree?This is the look on Webb's face as he says how he "regrets" saying a placement at the Naval Academy is a horny woman's dream:
Webb: Um, this article was written from the perspective of a marine rifle platoon company commander, and, to that extent, I think it was, uh, way too narrowly based.
Russert: But was it wrong?
Webb: I don't think it was wrong to participate in the debate at that time. It's been 27 years, it's a magazine article, and, uh, it's something, if I may say, I'm fully comfortable with the roles of women in the military today; I've been all around the world and, uh, at the request of many women commanders, this issue was vetted twice, in, uh, Senate confirmation hearings, 1984, 1987, uh, and both times I expressed my views on, uh, women in military billets, and when I was Secretary of the Navy, on my own initiative, I put together a task force that, where we ended up opening up more, uh, more billets, operational billets to women than any sector—
Russert: When you say [crosstalk] the Naval Academy is a horny woman's dream, you regret that?
Webb: Well, I do regret that.
Yeah, he regrets that like I regret voting for Al Gore.
I cannot begin to express what a terrible, terrible, terrible idea it would be for the Democratic Party to allow Jim Webb onto the national ticket after this primary season, for reasons I'm guessing I don't need to explain. I resent the idea that sticking any old pair of boobs in the veep slot is going to mollify the women who are rightfully angry with the way Clinton has been treated by her own party during this primary (yeah, I'm looking at you, Leahy, just for a start), but I resent even more the notion that it doesn't matter at all. Handing the veep slot to Webb on an Obama ticket would be a huge slap in the face to feminists. I can think of almost nothing that would prevent me from voting for the Democratic ticket this November, but putting Webb's name on it would send me screaming Green without reservation—because it wouldn't just be about Webb; it would be about the Democrats signaling that they just don't give a shit about my vote.
And, realistically, that's part of why the whole Roe v Wade cudgel isn't working to batter feminists into line like it used to; the Democrats have been weak on protecting choice—and, hence, women's autonomy—for fucking years now. Sure, Roe's still in place, but the GOP has successfully chipped away at abortion rights on the federal and state levels for two decades. The point is, certainly the Democrats will nominate and approve justices who will protect Roe, but if they aren't willing to protect it from being rendered an impotent and largely symbolic statute because it's been hollowed out by "partial-birth abortion bans" and "parental consent laws" and state legislatures that refuse to fund clinics offering abortions, what does it really matter if they protect Roe? Feminists who are paying attention to what's happened to practical choice in this country know that the Roe card is already functionally meaningless at this point in large swaths of the country.
Empty promises to guarantee Roe aren't going to do it. The Dems are falling down on the job of serving their feminist constituents in general and women specifically. Putting Webb on the ticket would not reassure us; it would only hasten the process of driving us from the party, once and for all.