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The Dream Ticket, That Wasn’t

LYNCHBURG, Va. –They would have been the perfect couple, a marriage of experience and candor and simple toughness with the young avatar of the hopes and dreams of young Americans and the Democratic Party. That’s the thought thought that came to mind when Virginia Sen. Jim Webb led his colleague, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Barack Obama, into a school gymnasium literally shaking from the rafters with a racially mixed crowd of 2,200. The sight of Webb pumping his fist in the air as Obama followed, you saw not just two senators, but a dream ticket unrealized.

Confident and measured in his introduction, you looked at Webb and saw what Obama supporters had been hoping for since he cinched the Democratic nomination. While the Republicans offer up a candidate in Sen. John McCain who graduated from the Naval academy and served his country with honor and distinction in Vietnam, he would have been matched by Webb–himself a Naval academy graduate who served with valor in that same senseless war, a Democrat who went on to a post as Secretary of the Navy under the great Republican icon Ronald Reagan.

With any vice-presidential nominee you want a heavy, a person who’s willing to be blunt and attack when needed, leaving the lead man to remain above the fray. Obama would most certainly have that in Webb, who was not afraid to mention the pounding Obama took during the primaries in his introduction tonight. Indeed in one of the most memorable political exchanges in the past several years, in Nov. 2006, shortly after Webb was elected to the Senate, President George W. Bush approached Webb to ask him about his son, a Marine serving in Iraq, by saying, “How’s Your boy?

“I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” Webb reportedly responded.

“That’s not what I asked you. How’s your boy?” Bush said.

“That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President,” Webb reportedly replied in words that still echo as words of defiance in the corridors of Washington power and helped define him as a force of his own within the Democratic Party.

As of this writing, reporters are camped out on the driveway of Delaware Sen. Joe Biden. By Saturday Obama will have his running-mate. He will be well vetted and prepped to stand beside a man in a historic campaign. For the Democrats sake it’s too bad Webb stepped aside from consideration. Yes, he makes a powerful surrogate and ally. But as a vice-presidential candidate his impact would have been so much more.

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