Monday, September 18, 2006

Saturday afternoon QB

Senator George Allen and Former Secretary Jim Webb debated on Meet the Press yesterday. The Washington Post and the New York Times devote a good amount of coverage to their campaign today.

The Post:
Webb, a decorated Marine and former Navy Secretary, called the Iraq war an "incredible strategic blunder of historic proportions" and said he has lost confidence in Bush's foreign policy. He repeatedly reminded viewers that neither Bush nor Allen, a former governor, had served in combat.

"Very few people who have brought us this war have served, and very, very few of the children of these people who have brought us this war have served," said Webb, whose Marine son began a tour in Iraq this month.

Allen steadfastly defended Bush's Middle East policies, telling moderator Tim Russert that "staying the course" in Iraq means "that we don't tuck tail and run, that we don't retreat, that we don't surrender." Asked whether more U.S. troops should be sent, Allen said, "We're going to need to do what it takes to succeed."
The Times:
In one of the sharpest exchanges of the campaign, Mr. Webb and Mr. Allen squared off on the war in Iraq on “Meet the Press” on NBC on Sunday, with Mr. Allen defending the Bush administration’s policy and denouncing the “second-guessing and Monday-morning quarterbacking” of the critics. “We’re going to need to do what it takes to succeed,” Mr. Allen said, when asked if he would support additional troops in Iraq, “because it’s essential to the security of the United States of America.”

Mr. Webb responded: “I know what it’s like to be on the ground. I know what it’s like to fight a war like this, and either — there are limits to what the military can do. Eventually, this is going to have to move into a diplomatic environment, and that’s where this administration seems to have blinders. They are not talking to Syria, they are not talking to Iran, and there are ways that we can do this, move this forward.”
Meet the Press has made the transcript available. My favorite exchange came at the end (my emphasis):
MR. RUSSERT: But is it a good example for young people?


MR. WEBB: Probably, probably not, but it’s something that I’ve done for a long time outdoors. I don’t chew indoors, I don’t chew at ceremonies, I don’t chew when I’m in any official function, but there are times when I chew tobacco.

MR. RUSSERT: You’re both going to...(unintelligible).

SEN. ALLEN: Fine, fine, fine. Yes, I do dip. But let me, let me finish with Mark Twain’s quote: “Nothing needs more reforming than somebody’s else’s habit.”

MR. RUSSERT: To be continued. Jim Webb the Democrat, George Allen the Republican. A lot more to talk about. I wish we had three hours.
I believe both candidates did well, but neither excelled.


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