Ezra Klein: Why Jim Webb thinks America should pay more attention to criminal justice and Alzheimer’s

March 9, 2015 
by Ezra Klein, Vox

There are few political careers more varied than James Webb’s. He served in Ronald Reagan’s administration — first as assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs, and then as secretary of the Navy from 1984 to 1988. After leaving politics to write, he returned in 2006 as the Democratic Party’s great veteran hope: a war hero and ex-Reagan official who opposed the Iraq War and never seemed weak doing it. He upset an incumbent to take a Senate seat in Virginia, and then, six years later, at the outset of an election he likely would have won, he retired from the Senate. No reelection campaign. No talk of higher office. He just seemed finished with Washington.

But in recent months, Webb has begun exploring a presidential campaign. “A strong majority of Americans agree that we are at a serious crossroads,” he wrote in his announcement. “In my view the solutions are not simply political, but those of leadership. I learned long ago on the battlefields of Vietnam that in a crisis, there is no substitute for clear-eyed leadership.”

I met with Webb, who was recovering from knee surgery, at his office in Northern Virginia. Our conversation ranged widely, but at the core of it I wanted to know two things: what would Webb actually want to get done as president? And what made him think, in this era of gridlock and polarization, that he would actually be able to accomplish any of it?  ……..

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