Hinting at independent run, Jim Webb blasts Hillary over Libya

In an exhaustive examination of Hillary Clinton’s record on Libya as Secretary of State, former Virginia senator Jim Webb launched a broadside against the Democratic front-runner in what could be a signal of a nonaligned run for the White House.

Webb dropped his bid for the Democratic nomination in late October, but did not rule out an independent run for the Oval Office.

“Clinton should be called to account for her inept leadership that brought about the chaos in Libya,” The predictable chaos was bad enough, but it also helped bring about the disaster in Syria.”

 “While she held that office, the U.S. spent about $2 billion backing the Libyan uprising against Qaddafi.  The uprising, which was part of the Arab Spring, led directly to Qaddafi being removed from power and killed by rebel forces in 2011. Now some 2,000 ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] terrorists have established a foothold in Libya.”

 “Who is taking her to task for this,” Webb inquired in a Facebook post.

Despite his departure from the campaign, Webb has preserved a political framework and has maintained a consistent presence on social media.

Although Vermont’s Bernie Sanders had been rumored to have considered an independent run, he explicitly vowed not to run on a third-party ticket should he not earn the nod from the Democratic Party.  Webb, on the other hand, has made no such pledge.

A more prosaic obstacle Webb needs to overcome is acquiring a position on ballots:  He resisted tradition with a peculiar entry into the Democratic field in July and he may lack the campaign apparatus to organize for a May 2016 deadline to enlist as an independent candidate.

Analysis

Attacking Hillary Clinton’s vulnerabilities is to be expected from an announced candidate and rival, but independent bids often have little legitimacy and typically evaporate when accosted by national party advantages of money, nationwide organization and endorsements.

However long the odds, independents add excitement, can be entertaining, and tip elections.

One such insurgent bid, in 1912, did actually affect the election:  Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose ticket upended William Howard Taft and relegated the incumbent president to third place.  Roosevelt collected 4.1 million popular votes, or 27 percent of the electorate, and claimed six states.  This Bull Moose ticket still lost and paved the way for New Jersey’s governor, Woodrow Wilson, to occupy the White House until 1921.

In contrast, Ross Perot’s subversive bid in 1992 witnessed over 19 million voters swing to his independent candidacy (later the Reform Party), purloining 18 percent of the popular vote, but failed to win a single state.  Although it remains debatable which candidate was impaired as a result of Perot’s third-party run, Bill Clinton edged incumbent president, George H.W. Bush, by less than a six percent plurality.

With the prospect of an independent run by Donald Trump looming, and the probability of Webb launching his independent bid, the 2016 election could amount to disruptive political warfare and turn into a sideshow.

 

[Bloomberg] [Photo courtesy thedailybeast.com]