- The Washington Times - Friday, October 27, 2006

U.S. Senate candidate James H. Webb Jr. faced more criticism yesterday about his characterizations of women, when critics publicized excerpts of his novels, including graphic sexual passages involving women and children.

“There is nothing that’s been in any of my novels that has not been illuminating of the surroundings, or defining a character or moving a plot,” said Mr. Webb, a Democrat. “I’m a serious writer.”

Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, said she was “sickened” by what she had read.

“Democrat or Republican, an individual like that belongs on the couch of a therapist, not on the floor of the United States Senate,” she said.

Laura MacLeod, another woman in the Virginia coalition, said she will take Mr. Webb’s novel “Lost Soldiers” to “every ballet practice and every soccer game” until the Nov. 7 election.

Mr. Webb’s writings started appearing on conservative blog sites as early as Oct. 16, but were not picked up by the press until Thursday night, which prompted the coalition to hold a press conference yesterday outside Mr. Webb’s office in Arlington.

The passages come from five of Mr. Webb’s wartime novels, starting with “Fields of Fire” in 1978. The excerpts include pedophilia, acrobatic young strippers and the homosexual behavior of guards at a prison in Vietnam.

The women said Mr. Webb’s character is a bigger issue than the Iraq war and that the content of Mr. Webb’s work was worse than the sexually explicit e-mails Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, sent to congressional pages.

Mr. Webb said he was warned by friends before entering the race that the 2 million words he has published made him an opposition researcher’s dream and that they would be taken out of context to be used against him.

Excerpts were read yesterday morning on the Don Imus radio show on MSNBC and on The Washington Post radio show “The Politics Program With Mark Plotkin,” despite Mr. Webb saying that would be inappropriate and that people chose to read his novels.

“Some of Webb’s writings are very disturbing for a candidate hoping to represent the families of Virginians in the U.S. Senate,” the campaign of incumbent Sen. George Allen, a Republican, stated in a press release. “Webb’s novels disturbingly and consistently — indeed, almost uniformly — portray women as servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted or some combination of these.”

Webb adviser Steve Jarding responded by saying: “Senator, you have not earned the right to question Jim Webb’s wartime experiences, from the ugliness of combat to the ugliness of what happens to civilians in nations ravaged by war. Senator, Jim Webb wrote of things he witnessed. They may have been ugly, but we should learn from their ugliness about the consequences of our votes and actions before we send men and women into war.”

The Allen campaign could not be reached for further comment.

Mr. Webb, 60, has been criticized for his views on women since the beginning of the race, particularly for an article he wrote in 1977 that questioned a woman’s place at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The criticism yesterday was the latest personal attack in a campaign that has focused more on character than policy issues.

Mr. Allen seemed poised to get the race back on course when he aired a rare, two-minute TV address asking that the final weeks focus only on the major issues, including fighting international terrorism.

But Mr. Allen has continued to run ads hammering Mr. Webb’s character, and the Webb campaign has responded.

In August, Mr. Allen, 54, was videotaped at a campaign stop calling an Indian-American volunteer for the Webb campaign “macaca.” And former classmates at the University of Virginia have said he used the “n-word” while attending school there in the 1970s.

The coalition’s small press conference yesterday sparked a strong reaction from a Webb volunteer going to the headquarters.

“What is outrageous is that the guys who are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, that’s the tragedy,” Pat Heineman, the mother of an Army National Guardsman who spent a year in Afghanistan, said to the women.


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