No presidential administration in United States history has been scandal-free; yet at no time in our nation’s history have scandals been so prone to erupt than during the current era, where we’ve moved past the 24-hour news cycle to a constant feed of smartphone-captured imagery from hundreds of millions of citizen-journalists and a deluge of micro-blogged opinions from anyone with a Twitter account.

 

So perhaps we’ve become jaded even to the notion of scandal. We’ve certainly become tone-deaf to the concept that the actions of public servants should be held to a high and impartial standard, for both the red team and the blue.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, presumptive frontrunner for the Democratic nomination to the presidency, continues to face a scandal related to her emails — more specifically, a lack thereof. We are surprised at the blue team’s reticence to mention the 2007 scandal involving up to 22 million emails sent by Bush and the White House staff via private servers. Perhaps this is because chastising soundbites about transparency from prominent Democrats at the time could well be applied to Mrs. Clinton today. Or perhaps this is because we’ve just become so inured to scandal that we’ve all forgotten the incident.

Are we not sick of this? Our inner cynic cries “all politicians are liars and cheats,” but, at the very least, could we pick new liars and cheats?

Even the yellowest dog must admit that there is a compelling case for looking beyond Mrs. Clinton to other alternatives. Sadly, the options include expert bunglers (Joe Biden), avowed socialists (Bernie Sanders), Indian maidens (Elizabeth Warren) and those openly on the make (Martin O’Malley).

The field is not a total wash — there is Jim Webb. A Vietnam War hero with a Navy Cross and a knee full of shrapnel, Webb followed his time in combat with a law degree from Georgetown, teaching at Annapolis, serving as Reagan’s secretary of the Navy, lots of writing and a single stint as U.S. Senator from the Old Dominion State.

His career has been marked with a fiery pugnaciousness; Webb is prone to attack issues as if they were bunkers full of Viet Cong. Much like when he was in the Marine Corps, it’s given him his share of victories — and more than a few political Purple Hearts. He’s been maligned as misogynistic; his views on affirmative action are, to say the least, nuanced; he left the Reagan administration because he thought it wasn’t doing enough to add to the American arsenal. Clearly he isn’t the left’s natural choice.

But perhaps he is the best choice for Democrats in 2016. Where once Democrats from Grover Cleveland to FDR enjoyed a “Solid South,” Northern-based candidates have a poor track record in the region since the Second World War. While the left once crowed about turning Virginia and North Carolina blue, the fact of the matter is that Democratic success in the South has largely depended on running distinctly Southern and moderate candidates, like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Webb has proven he can pick up votes from the middle — just ask George Allen.

As for Hillary, she’s been giving Southerners reasons to dislike her from the moment she sneered at Tammy Wynette on 60 Minutes. That was more than 20 years ago: Today she sneers at a Congress — and a public — that simply wants a little insight into the activities of the former secretary of state. Candidates like Jim Webb promise to make the South a two-party region; candidates like Clinton promise … well … who cares? We all already know what a Clinton promise is worth.

Mercury newspaper racks are located at the following locations:

The Meeting Street Inn

Clair's Service Station at 334 Folly Rd.

Harris Teeter on Houston-Northcutt Blvd.

The Square Onion in I'On

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