The Washington Times - September 19, 2008, 01:42PM

Virginia Sen. Jim Webb is no stranger to media praise. The first-term Democrat was named the Senate’s No. 1 “Rising Star” by Washingtonian magazine last month, and last year garnered “Rookie of the Year” honors from Politico.

The national focus has continued this year, with Mr. Webb earning attention for pushing his GI bill through Congress and being mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for Sen. Barack Obama.


And stepping outside the realm of the purely political, Mr. Webb was named this month as one of the “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century” by Esquire magazine — a list that includes notable leaders like Gen. David Petraeus and Vladimir Putin, but also contains names like Alex Rodriguez and Oprah Winfrey.

In an interview for the magazine, Mr. Webb discusses his dual careers as a writer and politician, saying that “the most disciplined thing I’ve ever done in my life is probably the act of writing a book.” He credits his studies of authors like Hemingway and Faulkner with helping him learn the craft, and says writing novels is harder than writing nonfiction.

Mr. Webb, 62, also says he was pulled into politics by wanting to make a difference. His first stint in the arena, which included service as Secretary of the Navy, followed the 1983 suicide bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon. His decision to run for the Senate came after circumstances that prompted similar emotions.

“From 9/11 to Katrina, it was almost the same feeling as when the building blew up in Beirut: I got so frustrated with the direction the country was going,” Mr. Webb told the magazine. “So I just said, ‘All right, I’m going to stick my oar in the water again.’ “

Read the entire interview here.

Gary Emerling, reporter, The Washington Times