Truthdig tips its hat this week to Jim Webb, the newly elected Democratic senator from Virginia, who delivered a blistering response to President Bush’s State of the Union address.
The money quote requires a bit of context:
Toward the end of his rebuttal speech, Webb referrred to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower, holding up each as a paragon of virtue in economic and foreign policy, respectively. Contrasting those former presidents with the current one, Webb closed his speech by saying:
These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.
Webb was, of course, the dark-horse candidate who upset incumbent George “Macaca” Allen in last November’s midterm election. Our favorite video of that campaign is one we like to call Webb’s “American President” moment.
If you’ll remember the 1994 movie: Michael Douglas, playing President Andrew Shepherd, spends almost the entire movie stoically enduring personal smear attacks by a political opponent. But near the film’s end, during a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing room, Shepherd unloads on his opponent with devastating Aaron Sorkin-scripted gusto.
Watch that scene:
Back to Webb:
Throughout Webb and Allen’s neck-and-neck campaign, Webb repeatedly declined the opportunity to comment upon and make political hay out of Allen’s well-publicized gaffes: both “macaca” and Allen’s dissembling about his Jewish ancestry. Like fictional president Andrew Shepherd, Webb chose to make his campaign about the issues. But toward the end of the race, Webb channeled a little Aaron Sorkin-style thunder himself.