Writing for the New York Times op-ed page, Jacob Heilbrunn suggests that the biggest threat to Hillary Clinton’s coronation as 2016 Democratic nominee could be a foreign policy-based challenge, from the peacenik side, by someone like former Sen. James Webb of Virginia, who was also a Vietnam vet, a former secretary of the Navy and, as Heilbrunn summarizes the nub of the matter, an “opponent of endless wars in the Middle East.”
I don’t pretend to know what Clinton’s core convictions are in foreign and military policy. Heilbrunn implies she “has been tacking to the right on Iran, Syria and Russia in anticipation of Republican assaults during the general election.” I note that, as a Senator, she voted to authorize the Iraq War, which cost her dearly in her 2008 presidential race against Barack Obama, who (although he was not a Senator at the time of the Iraq vote) had publicly opposed the war.
Webb was also not in the Senate in 2003, but he did publish an op-ed piece that warned, at a time when the American people were being told that their troops would be greeted as liberators: “[T]he Iraqis are a multiethnic people filled with competing factions who in many cases would view a U.S. occupation as infidels invading the cradle of Islam.”
Webb retired from the Senate in 2012, voluntarily, after one term. He has formed an exploratory committee for a possible presidential candidacy.
If polls measure anything, Clinton must be viewed as the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination. But, other than an incumbent president, the prohibitive favorites always get challenged, often seriously.