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Webb Is Running for President

It appears that there will be a challenger for the Democratic nomination after all:

The first official 2016 presidential candidate is former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.

Mr. Webb announced an exploratory committee late Wednesday night for what would be among the longest of longshot campaigns with a 14-minute video and a 2,100-word letter posted to his website, webb2016.com.

Most of the letter explains Webb’s reasons for running and provides a brief introduction to him, his career, and his family. There is one passage that hints at what some of the major themes of a Webb campaign could be:

We need to put our American house in order, to provide educational and working opportunities that meet the needs of the future, to rebuild our infrastructure and to reinforce our position as the economic engine and the greatest democracy on earth. We need to redefine and strengthen our national security obligations, while at the same time reducing ill-considered foreign ventures that have drained trillions from our economy and in some cases brought instability instead of deterrence.

Assuming that Webb is able to drum up some substantial support in the coming months, his entry into the race should be very good and healthy for the Democratic Party and the country. There had to be someone in the primaries ready and able to hold Clinton accountable for her poor judgments on policy, and there needed to be someone qualified to make her earn a nomination that has so far been treated as her dynastic inheritance. Even an unsuccessful challenge will force Clinton to face up to the mistakes on her record, and it will offer Democratic voters a serious alternative to the establishment favorite. For reasons that Kelley Vlahos made clear in her article today on Hillary Clinton, Webb’s announcement is especially welcome news for anyone interested in reforming and improving our foreign policy and national security policies. In particular, I look forward to hearing him criticize the Libyan war along these lines:

The logic that we used to go in was different than any situation that I can remember in terms of the use of force. There were no treaties at risk, there were no Americans at risk, there were no terrorist attacks coming out of Libya … in the name of what was called ‘humanitarian intervention’–this was the new concept that was enunciated–we established a new concept that the president can unilaterally decide what humanitarian conditions are, anywhere in the world.

Webb has the most credibility and the best qualifications on the Democratic side to oppose Clinton on these issues, and those are the issues on which she most needs to be challenged.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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