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Appearing on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today, Jim Webb hinted to guest host Susan Page that he might run for president: "I care a lot about where the country is, and we'll be sorting that out," he said.
In a world where perennial candidates flirt with running as a public relations strategy to stay relevant, we sometimes roll our eyes at such things. But Webb seems different. "If you look at how I ran for the Senate," he said, "I announced nine months to the day before the election — with no money and no campaign staff. It takes me a while to decide things. And I'm not going to say one way or the other."
Aside from being a former Democratic U.S. senator from Virginia, Webb was a highly decorated combat Marine in Vietnam, and later served as Secretary of the Navy.
So could it work? For a nation hungry for real leadership, Webb's image as a competent, no-nonsense leader might resonate. Tthe fact that Webb stepped away from the U.S. Senate on his own terms implies he's not just some politician. And his history of being a Democrat who can work with — and stylistically appeal to — Republicans would potentially be a plus in a general election.
In this regard, Webb would, in a sense, be able to run for Obama's third term while also (symbolically, at least) getting to run against Obama. And aside from Webb's leadership strengths, in a primary election this military tactician could potentially outflank Hillary Clinton from both the left and the right. He could tap into the anti-corporate, populist message that has elevated Elizabeth Warren, while simultaneously appealing to the "good ol' boy" red-state Democrats in places like Iowa.
Who knows if this will happen, but in a world where everyone gets to pretend they're running for president, this is perhaps the most interesting name floated in a long time.