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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Just who is Jim Webb?? I like what I see so far, this story below may be the major factor in his victory.

Belfast Telegraph Home > News

Webb spins his Ulster-Scots heritage into the US elections A former member of Ronald Reagan's government is on the brink of becoming a US Senator for the Democrats by using his Ulster-Scots heritage as a rallying point.

Sean O'Driscoll in New York profiles Virginia's Jim Webb09 November 2006

There have been many US presidents with Ulster-Scots roots, but for Virginia Democrat, Jim Webb, being Ulster-Scots or Irish Scots has become a rallying point for his supporters and a focus of his astonishingly popular campaign for a Senate seat.
As last week's New Yorker magazine put it, Webb has presented Ulster-Scots heritage as "the DNA of red-state America".
And it seemed to be working as last night he claimed victory in his tightly-fought Senate race with Republican George Allen, even though a recount now looks to be on the cards.
Throughout the heavily Ulster-Scots mountain towns of Virginia, Mr Webb referred time and time again to his book, 'Born Fighting, How The Scots-Irish Shaped America', telling supporters that they had built America, yet their ethnic background had been deliberately besmirched by the establishment in favour of more "politically correct" ethnic groups.
His view of US history has been a huge hit with voters, particularly in the Scots-Irish strongholds in southwest Virginia.
It helped him close in on the incumbent Mr Allen, who looked certain to win the race at the start of the election.
Mr Webb's "love your inner Ulster Scot" message also won some big-name supporters - most noticeably commentator Christopher Hitchens in the Wall Street Journal, who wrote that Mr Webb "is right to stress the huge rage felt by those of Scots-Irish provenance who feel that they have borne the heat and burden of the day in America's wars, and been rewarded with disdain".
Mr Webb is a hugely contradictory - an anti-war candidate who revels in celebrating the military and who toasted his son's departure for Iraq as a US marine.
Mr Webb is nominally a Democrat yet was Republican president Reagan's navy secretary - a fact he used time and again in his campaign commercials.
His basic Scots-Irish message pulls these contradictory strands together with a new message: "The Scots-Irish were pushed out of Scotland, battled Catholics in Ireland, came to the US where they fought everyone from native Americans to the French and were packed overseas to fight the Germans, the Viet Cong and the Iraqis and what do you have to show for it? You're treated as Bible-thumping rednecks by cultural elitists in Hollywood, New York and Washington."
It's a message that has proved to be political dynamite in the Republican heartland, leaving many Republicans and moderate Democrats to ask why they didn't tap into this resentment a long time ago.
According to Mr Webb, the real number of Ulster-Scots in America could be as high as 30 million, their numbers vastly underestimated by confusion on census day, with many voters filing their ethic background as Irish, Scottish, British, Ulster-Scots or Scots-Irish and that many who wrote "Scots-Irish" were placed in the "Scots" and "Irish" ethnic groups.
With Mr Webb's enormously popular campaign rewriting politics in conservative Virginia (helped on by stupid gaffes by his opponent), the election could well see a clamour among politicians for an analyst who can help them tap into this new Scots-Irish pride.
Although he lives in the boring, utterly middle-class Washington suburb of Falls Church, his language on the campaign stump has been that of the Virginia Hills, and his Scots-Irish relatives who still live there.
They are the kind of people that Mr Webb describes in Born Fighting as having "unbending individualism" and an "ingrained hatred of aristocracy".
He links their "individualism" to their alleged dislike of liberal policy makers and to their love of religion and military service.
The Scots-Irish have "been in conflict with a variety of authoritarian power structures, and it remains so in today's America", he wrote in Born Fighting.
He says that for complicated reasons, many Scots-Irish are still mired in poverty and he lists off the stereotypes he most resents: "Rednecks. Trailer-park trash. Racists. Cannon fodder."
The ingratitude of "the establishment" was burnt into him after he came back from Vietnam to find privileged college kids belittling the war and making it sound as if they were taking a brave step by refusing to fight.
Repeatedly citing that the Scots-Irish have fought for America in numbers way above the national average, he never missed a chance to attempt to stoke that pride in his audience.
In Christiansburg in southwest Virginia last Saturday, he arrived in military garb.
His red, white and blue campaign signs read "Jim Webb: Born Fighting".
He immediately appeals to voters by referencing Scots-Irish hero and former President, Andrew Jackson, who represents the values of "the traditional Democratic Party" before it was 'hijacked' by tree huggers, gays and Vietnam protester, Jane Fonda (whom, he once said, he would not cross the road to see, "even to see her slit her wrists").
In the likely event that Mr Webb wins this race, he will have done so by tapping into something very deep in the Virginian psyche.
And he will then become part of the establishment he bemoans.
"Why are the 30 million Scots-Irish, who may well be America's strongest cultural force, so invisible to America's cultural elites?" he wrote in an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal two years ago.
Like Andrew Jackson before him, that's a question that he himself will now have to answer

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