According to the New York Times, former Democratic Senator from Virginia, secretary of the Navy under Reagan, and failed 2016 presidential candidate Jim Webb may be in line to take over James Mattis job as Defense Secretary.
It’s pretty strange that Trump would even consider someone formerly associated with the Democratic Party, especially a former potential challenger, to serve in his cabinet. And yet, here we are.
Webb does resemble the president in that he has been both a Republican and a Democrat. He switched from red to blue before his first Senate run in 2006.
From the Times:
Representatives for Vice President Mike Pence and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, have reached out to Mr. Webb, one of the three officials said. Separately, a senior Defense Department official confirmed that Mr. Webb’s name had been circulating at the White House. Those two and the third official all spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal discussions. [...]
Mr. Webb did not respond to a request for comment, and a White House official said the vice president’s staff has had no contact with Mr. Webb. How seriously he is being considered was unclear; Mr. Trump likes to float names as he considers his options for various openings in the government — sometimes to test responses and sometimes to keep the news media guessing.
Interestingly, it’s Webb’s anti-interventionist stance regarding wars in the Middle East that seem to appeal to Trump. In 2016, he ran for the Democratic nomination on a platform that included withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. He was also one of the few who predicted that war in Iraq would lead to disaster.
But aside from his views on Iraq, Webb hews close to hawk orthodoxy.
Like Trump, he’s pushed to escalate conflicts with China.
“If you want a place where we need to be in terms of our national strategy, a focus, the greatest strategic threat that we have right now is resolving our relationship with China,” Webb said during a 2015 Democratic primary debate.
Webb is also not so sure about the Iran deal. “The end result of [the deal] could well be our acquiescence in allowing Iran to develop a nuclear weapon,” he said in 2015.
The other names being floated for Defense Secretary are typically ghoulish: Jim Talent, Tom Cotton, Lindsey Graham, and David “Betray Us” Petraeus (remember that?).
Meanwhile, last week Trump said that acting secretary Patrick Shanahan could remain in place for a “long time.”