That’s right. That’s Mark Warner, junior Democratic Senator from Virginia, who won an astonishing 65% of the vote in 2008 (besting Obama by 12 percent), after a highly acclaimed term of Governor from 2002-2006. That’s the same Mark Warner who was rumored to be considering a Presidential run in 2008, a favorite among the establishment elite for his mixture of business acumen (he pioneered a multimillion dollar cellular technology company) and bipartisan record (helping resolve budget deficits with the Republican controlled Virginia legislature). Now The Hill is reporting that Senator Warner is “gaining more influence”, despite being only a freshman, by being one of the few Senators who can reach across the aisle to partner with Republicans. Furthermore, in the same The Hill article, Senator Warner has been seen as instrumental in partnering with Republican Senator Bob Corker (Tennessee) in helping push through the financial regulation bill which seems headed for passage sometime this year. Senator Warner’s other impacts include working with Republicans on offshore drilling and other energy proposals, while also engendering good relations the business community.
Does this all sound too good? After all, with such credentials, Warner could have been a legitimate Presidential contender, if he weren’t swept up by the historic nature of the 2008 Democratic Primaries. In fact, then-candidate Obama seemed to tap into Senator Warner’s popularity, selecting Warner to give the keynote speech at the 2008 National Convention, the same slot held by Obama four years prior. Yet, Mark Halperin, and other commentators trashed the speech, with Halperin grading it a “D“, describing the end result as “bland” and “meandering”. Alas, here we run into an impasse. Starting a telecommunications company will never be as thrilling as being the son of a man from Kenya and a woman from Kansas, advocating issues like clean energy and bipartisanship will not inspire the rank-and-file of the party, and just the fact that being bland lacks the “coolness” factor that Obama brings (Senator Warner’s Facebook page included “consensus-building” under his Interests section). In an era where politics has been reduced to soundbites and catchphrases, is Mark Warner a dead breed?
Last week, Thomas Friedman complained in his op-ed column that we need a “radical center” revolution. Such a revolution involves departing from the partisan gridlock which has left with an imploding budget in the future, with one side refusing to cut benefits while the other refusing to budge on taxes. President Warner would be an ideal leader for this movement, willing and able to reach out to Republicans, while crafting thoughtful, creative policies. Senator Warner obviously has no hope for President ambitions until 2016, when he will be 61, which does not rule him out. Furthermore, if Harry Reid loses in November, it could upend Democratic leadership and open a vacuum for a centrist like Senator Warner. So what for boring. We can rely on Stephen Colbert and Glenn Beck for our laughs: politics is about mixing America, and Mark Warner is my guy.
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