Normally I don’t go in much for the early horse-race prognostications about the 2016 presidential election, but there are occasional exceptions. One is Jacob Heilbrunn’s op-ed in the New York Times today. Heilbrunn is the editor of The National Interest, and someone I’ve tangled with a couple of times before (such as this letter to the NY Times Books Review almost ten years ago), but I like Jacob personally and think he’s an interesting center-left figure.
Heilbrunn thinks Hillary Clinton might prove highly vulnerable to a primary challenge from . . . James Webb:
Mr. Webb’s attacks on free trade and economic elites, coupled with a call for America to come home again, might well prove a potent combination in the early primaries, attracting antiwar progressives as well as conservative-minded Southern white men whom he believes the party can win back. His credo is as simple as it is persuasive: Rather than squander its power and resources abroad, America should rebuild.
Mr. Webb, whose national poll ratings are negligible, may look like an unlikely candidate, but that is also what most observers thought when he wore his son’s Iraq combat boots on the campaign trail and ousted George Allen from his Senate seat in 2006. Today he represents for the Democrats what the Republicans tried to stamp out in their ranks during the midterm elections: a Tea-Party-like insurgency against its establishment candidate.
There’s more, including a shout out to Prof. Michael Glennon of Tufts University, one of the more interesting and significant chastened liberals whom I know (and, I believe, a clandestine Power Line reader, except that now I’ve just outed him). But this all fits with my previously expressed view that the Democrats could be facing a 1968-style brawl in the 2016 contest. Hillary may well walk away with the nomination, but she’ll be Hubert Humphrey redux.