Monday, December 04, 2006

Jim Webb Interview With RTD

Peter Hardin of the RTD interviewed Jim Webb last week and managed to avoid asking him stupid questions like whether he thinks George Allen is a racist, and how his "boy" is doing. Instead, Webb is finally given an opportunity in an interview to discuss legislation he wants to propose and to explain his position on a number of current nominations. Here are some highlights:

Q: Is there a past or present senator whom you think you may model yourself after?

A: In the middle of this campaign, when people were writing about the debates -- that I wasn't answering questions like a political person -- I sat down one night, I said, 'Well, who would be a prototype?' And it came up Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Someone who had spent a great deal of his life in the intellectual world. For him, that was as an academe. But for me, writing is completely intellectual, or largely an intellectual experience.

Someone who was willing to grapple with the really complex issues of society, and tried to bring them into some sort of legislative, governmental resolution.

Editor's note: Moynihan, who died in 2003, served as a Democratic senator from New York for 24 years.

Q: What will be your first legislative effort?

A: The first thing I want to do is introduce the GI bill for the people who have been serving [in the military] since 9/11 ... Every war era has a different kind of GI bill. But I think the best one for the people serving since 9/11 is the World War II model, [which] ... covered all your tuition, any college you can get into, plus bought your books and gave you a monthly stipend.

Q: Sen. George Allen would allow visitors to carry a concealed firearm into a national park. You wrote a letter during the campaign on gun issues; do you intend to introduce a bill that would repeal the gun ban in national parks?

A: I'm willing to look at that. I'm a strong Second Amendment person . . . I've not seen Allen's bill.

... The difficulty in gun-control issues has always been that we're such a diverse country -- geographically, demographically and in other ways -- that it's hard to have a national standard on a lot of this stuff. What works in New York City doesn't necessarily work in Southwest Virginia, and vice versa ...

Q: Your thoughts on Bush's nomination of Robert Gates for secretary of defense?

A: ... he seems to have a very realistic approach to the Middle East, and he was a member of the Iraq Study Group, which gives him a fresh and independent look at the problem ... his coming in as secretary of defense might be a signal that the administration is looking for a more constructive way to reduce our presence.

Q: You're not willing to say whether you would support or oppose him, if you had a vote?

A: I've not been able to examine his record in a way that the senators on the Armed Services Committee would be able to.

Q: Do you have a position on proposed federal Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco manufacturing?

A: We'll have to take a look at it and get the advice of people that I respect on it, because I don't have a position on it right now. I don't want to pull one out of thin air either ...

Q: Do you have a position on filling the seat on the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated by J. Michael Luttig?

A: Senator [John W.] Warner has approached me about that. [Warner] asked for my input. We're working on that right now ... For all judicial nominations, I'm setting up an advisory committee of attorneys with strong experience ...

Q: Do you have an opinion on Bush's nomination of William J. Haynes, the Pentagon general counsel, for the 4th Circuit?

A: I have no opinion yet. I'm going to look at his credentials.

Q: Will you be accessible to the media?

A: Absolutely. And . . . I will expect [reporters and editors] to be fair to me ... So there are standards of fairness, but I also understand the adversary nature that's essential to the democracy.

Here's the cite.

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