I didn’t think he did all that well. I’m sure Democratic partisans loved the contempt for the president, and independents sympathized with his complaint about high executive pay. I’m less sure that the backward-looking focus on the decisions of 2003 made much sense, or that the anti-Wall Street rhetoric plays well. Let me put it this way: This is not the speech that Rahm Emanuel or Chuck Schumer would have written. And while Webb is a more compelling figure than they are, they’re the better political strategists.
His response did raise a trivia question in my mind. Last year, Tim Kaine, the Democratic governor of Virginia, gave the response to Bush. When’s the last time one state has had the response honors two years in a row? The Democrats are definitely making a play for Virginia, as they have with Colorado and Ohio. They have one of the Senate seats and the governorships, they could make gains in the legislature, and they could even flip it in presidential races.