2016 Election Starts With Jim Webb; America Promptly Falls Asleep

As midterm elections fade into the past — with the exception of Louisiana’s runoffs — 2016 is gaining traction again as a topic of discussion. This is particularly the case after the first official “exploration” into whether or not to run was announced by current Democrat, and former Republican, Jim Webb. In a 14-minute YouTube video, posted on Webb’s campaign page, seen above, he discusses his background and his reasons for considering the presidency. Nothing gets the heart pumping and the blood boiling like announcing the decision to “launch an Exploratory Committee to examine whether I should run for president in 2016.” Except maybe launching a panel to vote on whether or not to launch an exploratory committee to look into whether or not to challenge Hillary Clinton in armed combat.

The video is a little bit dry; it’s a little bit canned. But to be fair he does a good job of targeting frustration with gridlock and the two-party battle that’s led to such divisive and ineffective governing in recent years. It doesn’t hurt to remind people how angry they are. He just has to hope that he has the charisma and strength of rhetoric to transform that anger into hope and passionate support; magic eightball says: “It is doubtful.”

At the very least he needs the vim to keep everyone awake beyond the 4-minute mark. Unfortunately for Webb, Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy perhaps said it best when he pointed out that the video “looks like it was filmed by the people who make commercials for personal-injury attorneys.”

Not only do we get his background in the military and in Congress, much of which is of course relevant as it speaks to his level of experience in politics, we get his wife’s life history, which while certainly interesting and inspiring, could probably have been cut for the sake of brevity and relevance. However, succinctness didn’t appear to be on Mr. Webb’s agenda; he touched on nearly every topic one can get to in a 14-minute video, from national security to race and poverty. In ways what he said was valuable, even praiseworthy, but how he said it — and how long he took to say it — suggests he has potentially misjudged of his audience, if indeed his audience is the average American.

“With enough financial support to conduct a first-class campaign, I have no doubt that we can put these issues squarely before the American people and gain their support. 2016 election is two years away, but serious campaigning will begin very soon,” said Webb, admitting that his support is beginning its effort with “very little funding and no full-time staff” but lists his race for the Senate in 2006 as evidence he can overcome long odds. And long odds is just what he’d be facing. “The first primaries are about a year away. Your early support will be crucial as I evaluate whether we might overcome what many commentators see as nearly impossible odds,” he said. I do believe my ears might be ringing.

In the end, Webb’s candidacy as a Democrat isn’t promising in the face of Hillary Clinton’s potential run for the executive. It’s highly unlikely he’d make it very far in a Democratic primary, much less see presidential elections. Clinton is currently a favorite among Democrats and would be a highly competitive candidate against a Republican opponent, at least at this point in the game.

Taking a look at Gallup’s July polling numbers for potential presidential candidates is fairly telling. While it’s likely a little outdated (Clinton’s numbers have probably dropped some), and other polls might plot a different breakdown, with Clinton and Huckabee slightly less comparative against Republican candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the fact of the matter is Webb isn’t even on Gallup’s graph. It lists the most likely, to only semi-likely candidates from each party. For Republicans the list is rather long, from Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, to Sen. Rand Paul (Ken.), Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas’s Ted Cruz, down the line for a total of eleven possibilities. Democrats had a far shorter list, Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) at the top, followed by three others.

It’s not that Webb doesn’t have positive aspects that would contribute in his favor for a presidential race. The debate over whether or not he is as centrist as he markets himself to be is an interesting one, and according to some sources, including Govtrack.us, which looks at votes during his time in the Senate, he is indeed to the right of his fellow Democrats. He also has the advantage of being social liberal, even if he shares certain conservative stances. An anti-gay-rights stance would very quickly and decisively alienate a large majority of Democratic voters.

Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS

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