Senator Jim Webb was the second speaker in this season’s series of The Norfolk Forum. The Senator discussed three broad themes in his remarks:
- Reorienting U.S. national security
- Restoring economic fairness and social justice
- Reinstituting accountability in government
In the context of these themes, the Senator discussed how legislation that he has supported have moved towards these goals. More than 700,000 veterans have signed up for the new GI Bill he sponsored. The Wartime Contracting Commission will issue its final report this year. With 7 million people in jail and yet 70% of us don’t feel safer, he is working on the establishment of a National Criminal Justice Commission. He believes bold moves were necessary to avert a worldwide financial crisis and therefore supported TARP, the stimulus package and the tax extenders legislation.
Sounding more than a little wonkish at times, the Senator delved into various issues regarding our relationship with countries in Asia and Southeast Asia. He urged that the U.S. not ignore the 10 ASEAN nations. He also discussed the effects of the new Panama Canal, particularly as it relates to the Port of Virginia, located here in Hampton Roads. Pilot writer Bill Bartel has more on that.
Webb spoke of the need to re-balance the relationship between the executive branch and Congress, something he took up during the Bush presidency – he is against the signing statements – but has continued with the Obama administration. He mentioned that he is the only member of Congress to write a letter to the president prior to his trip to Coppenhagen for the climate change summit, reminding him that Congress, not the president, has the authority to bind this country to certain agreements.
Prior to the start of the speech, Webb did a brief press avail. The picture above comes from that, as he was being interviewed by a local TV station. It was then that I had the opportunity to ask the question on the minds of every political observer: are you running in 2012? The Senator smiled and said he will be making that announcement closer to the end of the first quarter.