Naming Virginia’s Senator Webb as an Ethics Hero really gilds the lily, for he has been a hero much of his life, most spectacularly in the Vietnam War, where he was its most decorated Marine. It isn’t surprising, then, that while his party was reeling from Martha Coakley’s loss of Ted Kennedy’s former seat in Massachusetts, and some of his colleagues were spinning plots to find some way to pass health care legislation before Sen. Brown got to Washington, Jim Webb, a Democrat, released this statement before the echoes had even faded away from Scott Brown’s victory speech:
“In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process. It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.”
Webb’s statement, both its content and his courage in releasing it when he did, reaffirms what the hierarchy of values is supposed to be in Washington, D.C., though it seldom is: integrity, fairness, process and respect for the system first, with political expediency trailing far, far behind.
Full disclosure: I went to law school with Jim Webb, who was in my first year class, and we know each other (though he did not appear to recognize me recently when we ran into each other at a Thai restaurant.).
Thank you, Senator. We needed that.