Our View: Now Webb channels Whittier

Posted: October 3, 2012

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,” wrote the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, “the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’”

With his days in the Senate winding down to a precious few, Virginia Democrat Jim Webb has expressed regrets about the passage of ObamaCare, for which he provided the proverbial “60th vote.”

Now, he tells us. Now, he decides to channel Whittier. If he had reservations about this legislation — and it appears that he has — why didn’t he, at the very least, hold out for a better deal, a better bill. Or, if it meant ObamaCare or nothing, no bill at all. He had it within his power to do so.

But he glumly went along, went along with the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, and the other rancid sweeteners that assured the measure’s passage — only, as The Wall Street Journal noted on its editorial page Tuesday, to express his regrets later.

“My great regret on that,” Mr. Webb told MSNBC recently, “is that I believe the whole health-care issue could have been handled differently by the administration and over here. I think the way that the process was put forward without a clear set of principles from the administration caused a lot of fear in the country. We had seven different or five different committees boiling up 7,000 pages of contradictory information.”

Coulda, woulda, shoulda — oh, what might have been. Still, as Mr. Webb added, those regrets do not extend to his actual vote, even though he maintains a “smaller, more focused package” would have been preferable.

Too bad he didn’t hold out for one. Because, as it now stands, that “60th vote,” as The Journal stated, is Jim Webb’s legacy.