James Webb had a sensible op-ed in the Wall Street Journal a couple of days ago criticizing “diversity” affirmative action which often privileges recent immigrants over working class whites:

I have dedicated my political career to bringing fairness to America’s economic system and to our work force, regardless of what people look like or where they may worship. Unfortunately, present-day diversity programs work against that notion, having expanded so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white.

In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.

There is nothing particularly remarkable about Webb’s article but it has provoked some interesting responses. Stephen Green of Pajamas Media thinks that it is some sort of broadside against the White House. He asks, “Why now? Why write this column today? What brought this particular issue out at this particular moment?” I’m guessing that Green has little experience with real writing or publishing, or he would know that Webb didn’t simply get up one morning and and decide to post his thoughts at the Wall Street Journal. Editors make these decisions, and Webb’s article may have been written weeks ago. And I’m not really sure as to why it is a “virtual declaration of war on President Obama.”

Glenn Reynolds quotes a reader’s conspiracy theory that can charitably be described as absurd. “Let’s not get so worked up over Sen. Webb’s comments on race and affirmative action programs. Its very likely that his Op Ed was calculated by the White House as an attempt to stop the hemorrhaging of white voters and to bring enough of them back into the democrat party’s fold to rescue their candidates in November.” Of course, Webb appears the sort of spineless milk toast willing to attach his name to ideas that he doesn’t endorse because the president demands it.

Reynolds also links to a whiny screed from Moe Lane who may still be smarting from Webb’s defeat of George Allen in 2006. Lane predicts that the Webb will be punished for committing a “thoughtcrime” and he linked to a mildly critical post from NPR. It seemed like weak evidence, so I checked some liberal blogs and found sympathetic posts from John Cole and Kevin Drum. I’m sure that there are some leftist diversitycrats out there who disagree with Webb, but I see no evidence that they have the power to, as Lane puts it,  “utterly destroy Jimmy Webb’s career.”