Webb misses Vet event, offers lame excuse

This morning’s Virginian-Pilot has an editorial about Senator-elect Jim Webb being a no-show at a local event which was planned for Veterans’ Day, Saturday, November 11. Back in August, Webb agreed to appear. The Webb camp claims that they told organizers a month in advance that he might not be able to make it; however the Pilot reports:

Nobody we talked to, including Webb’s stand-in Col. Robertson, remembers getting more than 40 hours notice.

I have no doubt that, in the last month of the campaign, things got crazy. Events beyond November 8 were probably overlooked. And then there was the closeness of the race that factored in. If you recall, Allen did not concede until Thursday. Neither of these are an excuse for the short notice, mind you, just a simple reality.

What got me, though, was part of Webb’s “clarification” which is included in the editorial:

And the logistics involved in getting from Northern Virginia to the event and then back again (four hours drive time each way – there was never an offer by the event’s organizers to fly me there, or otherwise take care of transportation expenses), would have eaten up the entire weekend.

Some things are best left unsaid. That little parenthetical enclosure is one of those things, especially the part about no one offering to fly him there or take care of the expenses. It sounds whiny and petulant. And it sounds as if he’s blaming the event organizers for him not being able to make it.

But the last sentence really takes the cake:

And quite frankly I am rather perplexed that there would not be a greater understanding of the circumstances that caused me to miss it.

These people are not candidates, Mr. Webb. They are ordinary citizens that have absolutely no clue at how much work running for office is. Kinda like you were at the beginning, remember?

The article makes reference to an email from Webb that was read by his surrogate, Col. Clayton Robertson, USMC-Ret., at the event. Perhaps in that email his tone was less accusatory and more contrite. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on that. I presume also that the email is the source of the lame excuse that Webb’s new Senate responsibilities on Veterans’ Day precluded him from attending. According to the editorial, Webb’s staff said that those responsibilities consisted of “a Senate reception and the need to read materials related to his upcoming orientation.”

Whoever wrote this “clarification” has done more damage than good.

Check out Bearing Drift for another take on this.

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15 thoughts on “Webb misses Vet event, offers lame excuse

  1. Bring it on 🙂 I have nothing to hide. Remember, I ran for office so everything is already out there 😆

    I suspect there is no folder on me. Not worth the time or energy.

  2. Webb camp had no time for vets but time to investigate bloggers.

    I saw this story this morning and simply shook my head and said out loud “What a shame. Not a good start.”

    THere is something to be said for Webb’s “Suck it up” way of doing things, especially in making choices, but there needs to be some softening of this I think if he is to gain traction or friends.

    Did not support him, but he is the incoming Senator and of course I want him to do well for Virginia… Only until January 2013 of course 🙂

  3. The way of disengaging from this appearance could have been handled better by Webb and company, but I think you’re being a little harsh in your criticisms.

    First, I think in the rush to deal with the month leading up to the election some things were probably overlooked or misunderstood. Remember, there were days on which Webb was actually flying all over the state and making multiple appearances. Barnstorming is exhausting and disorienting. It could well be that Webb was counting on someone connected with his campaign to make the necessary apologies and to follow up, and this may not have been done. It’s also possible that someone from his campaign made the effort but wasn’t plain spoken enough for it to sink in with whoever was arranging it for the VVA. One thing’s for sure — whoever was in charge of arranging it for the VVA wouldn’t want to admit that he got the message but dropped the ball and didn’t follow up or thought it didn’t mean what it actually did mean. There’s always a lot of CYA in potentially embarrassing situations.

    It could be too that Webb took on too much and underestimated the time he would have to spend dealing with business immediately after the election.

    Second, I took a look at the column you referenced. A lot of comments critical of Webb, calling him arrogant, and saying he should have just hopped a plane down there on his own. Have you tried to do a quick one day jaunt by plane from Falls Church to Hampton Roads? Turns out it’s not that easy. Either he would have had to impose upon one of the friends who’d been flying him all over creation in the weeks preceding, and who may have had his own plans for the holiday and certainly wouldn’t have been expecting such a request, or to get there on his own.

    He would have had to fly to Norfolk, rent a car or been picked up, traveled to Hampton Roads, made his speech, shaken hands, kissed babies, and then been driven back or had to drive back to the airport at least an hour before his flight. Most of the flights down originate at BWI, which is at least 90 minutes from his home and involves either traveling through DC or around it. So, take your pick of either going through DC on a day when there are Veterans Day events on every street corner, or going up 95 which has inevitable road work every weekend. To be on the safe side he would have had to leave at least 3 hours before flight time. Even if he’d been able to get one down from National Airport he would have had to leave in the afternoon and then would have had difficulty returning the same day. That’s just the way the schedules seem to go. Moreover, this was on Veterans Day. Do we even know if there were any flights available? A lot of people fly in and out of DC for Veterans Day.

    The only other option would have been to get in the car and drive for four to five hours (traffic, always traffic), attend events and schmooze, then get back in the car and drive another four to five hours back. Exhausting, time consuming, and totally enervating coming after a relentless whirlwind campaign of appearances everywhere. Of course it would have blown the weekend. It’s at least a full day gone.

    In the meantime this is all happening within 48 hours of his finding out that he actually did win the election, and at a time when he was apparently broadsided with the information that he was going to have to attend meetings, read lots of documents, learn procedures, and get over to the Senate on Monday morning. I imagine it was just like being a lawyer finding out on Thursday that you have a jury trial on Monday and being overwhelmed by the need not to look stupid or uninformed about the case. I think this is where the querelousness evident in his missive to the VVA comes in. His identity is tightly wrapped up in his desire to be a champion for vets, and he’s being accused of neglecting a group of vets, some of whom are saying he’s doing this out of arrogance. It probably stung and his letter reflects that. He should have either apologized outright and said “I bit off more than I can chew, and I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you next year, but in the meantime I’m working on my proposed GI Bill legislation.” He could have explained how difficult it was to get away, but he is entering a new arena now and it’s going to be a chore to change from blunt speaking to the soft words that turneth away constituent wrath.

  4. Pityful.

    First Webb goes to the White House and refuses to stand in the receiving line. When Bush ask about his son, Webb gives him a snotty answer. Now Webb has sent a snotty letter to a group of Veterans, blaming them for their ‘ignorance’ of not knowing just how busy and important Jim Webb is. AND because they didn’t offer him a plane to fly down there! The man has more hutzpu, and very manners, than anyone I’ve ever met. What an arrogant A-hole. Is it any wonder that he’s had 3 ex wives? What a boor to have to live with someone like him. (Those poor women, all thinking that he was Mr. Right, not realizing that his first name was ALWAYS.) I am SOOOOO looking forward to him leaving the Senate in his huff, sometime in 2008. AT least Mark Warner knows how to behave and he won’t embarrass us every week.

  5. As long as Webb is in the Senate, Virginia is screwed. He’ll never be able to suck up enough to leadership to get anything for Virginia. He does NOT play well with others. He will HATE what has to be done to get things done for his state. He simply will not do it. Period.

    Oh well, we didn’t really need those jobs in southside and contracts in NOVA. .Did we?

  6. Webb will do a lot for Virginia; the repealing of tariffs, outsourcing, CAFTA and NAFTA did away with jobs for our country. I just think of what could have happened. Allen would have made Virginia the butt of the country’s jokes forever. And then we would all have to listen to his presidential aspirations. Webb did a lot to help restore hope; we will just wait and see into what committee he will be placed. If he stays in the Senate for awhile, his placement can mean great things for the state.

  7. I am guessing here: Jane Oldman didn’t vote for Webb. Perhaps,she doesn’t ever vote for Democratic candidates…..just a guess.

    People spewing vitriol about a candidate before an election and then doing the same after he wins doesn’t strike me as really very interesting or surprising.

    (I suppose I could be wrong about her voting record. If so I am sorry.)

  8. FYI, I voted for Bill Clinton. And Walter Mondale. And George McGovern. I also recognize arrogant, ill mannered, pigs, when I see them.

  9. I was surprised to find while trying to respond to a petition that Webb has no email capability set up, and we’re asked to print out a letter and mail it to him. For someone who gained so much from the Internet(s), one would think he would already have ready an avenue to accept email and email petitions. I rely on a great number of groups to help me in how to approach my legistlators and the groups do a wonderful job. Webb needs to get on the ball on this one, in my humble opinion. 😀

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