ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails: "Don't you think it's also bad news for the left fringe of the Democrat party? I think it shows that voters will not support the Howard Dean-Kos-fringe and it makes for interesting times as Democrats try to find a presidental candidate for 2008." Yes, when Democrats move to the center, it's bad news for both Republicans and the Democratic far-left.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Hamlet writes:
I know you like Jim Webb. I like him too, and I even was a campaign volunteer for him, but I find your characterization of him as centrist a little off. I find it off, because frankly I WISH Jim Webb was more centrist. In the primaries he has opposed free trade and hammered his primary opponent for saying outsourcing might not be such a bad thing, opposed the Iraq War (saying he would have voted against authorization of force if a Senator), and he also is a supporter of gay rights. While I think that's far from being really "liberal" or "left," he arguably was the less centrist of the two people running.
Yes, I knew he was antiwar, though I haven't followed his campaign very closely -- I'm mostly a fan of his books. (More here.) And other readers (including Markos) write to note that Kos endorsed him, so I guess Kos and I like the same guy, though I suspect we see different virtues in him. And if supporting gay rights makes you a left-liberal, then what am I?
Upside for the Dems -- they've got a Kos candidate with crossover appeal! Like fellow Democrat Phil Bredesen, he doesn't exude contempt for Red-State America. It'll be interesting to see if they can keep that going through November.
STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, maybe -- as Mickey Kaus is claiming -- it's really Kos who's tacking toward the center!
AND MORE: Further thoughts on the "libertarian center" from Brink Lindsey. Responding to a post by Jonah Goldberg, Brink writes: " whether Jonah likes it or not, libertarians are in the center of the American political debate as it is currently framed. In the red vs. blue culture wars, libertarians find themselves in the middle, along with that large, nonideological chunk of the electorate that is equally squeamish about the religious right and the countercultural left. This is a new and unaccustomed position for libertarians to be in, but I am coming to believe it represents a unique opportunity for us if we can figure out how to take advantage of it." Centrism is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.
I'm not sure that Webb really fits this -- like me, he's pro-gay rights and pro-gun rights, but he's also (I think) anti-free-trade, which isn't really a "libertarian" stand. (Libertarians split on the war, so I don't think his position on the war tells us much either way.) But I may be misstating his position on trade since I'm not all that familiar with his political career, as opposed to his writing.
Conn Carroll at the National Journal Blogometer blog scores me -- fairly enough -- for not knowing that Kos was backing Webb. On the other hand, Carroll apparently thinks that I don't like Webb. I don't know where that idea came from, as I've been pretty positive in my treatment of him, and certainly wasn't unhappy with his primary victory. It's certainly wrong to lump me in with those who "want no part of a Webb candidacy."
MORE: Virginia blogger John Rosenberg has more thoughts on Webb as a centrist, or maybe former centrist. And Conn Carroll emails:
Yeah, I know you are pro-Webb, and re-reading the tag I put above your first quote, it probably does read like you donít like him, butÖI was trying to underscore sentiment on the right that Webb is a formidable candidate who can give Allen a real campaign, I wanted to use some non-NRO quotes, and I donít get to quote you as often as I would like (what with the more campaign/inside politics subject matter of the Hotline). So forgive me for taking a shortcut at your expense.
No sweat -- campaign/inside politics stuff isn't among my chief interests. But obviously I should be reading Blogometer more to keep up.