Still, a man elected to the Senate as a progressive “netroots” darling in the 2006 Democratic wave, and who would go on two years later to endorse Barack Obama for president, would seem an odd fit for Trump’s Cabinet. But as a populist and Jacksonian who appealed to the white working class, it’s arguable that Webb was doing Trump’s act before Trump was. Webb also appeared to prefer Trump to Hillary Clinton, like many other Obama supporters who went on to vote for Trump. Obama and Trump have little in common, other than they both understand that military adventurism does not always make the intervening country safer and stronger. Webb agrees with them.
Serving as defense secretary may be Webb’s best public service opportunity. In the Senate, he was stuck in an ill-fitting liberal box. As a short-lived candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, he found the party of Harry Truman had passed him by. Webb is a better fit at the Department of Defense than many people already occupying senior positions under Trump, including National Security Adviser John Bolton or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.