It is a sad state of affairs when a bona fide Renaissance man cannot get traction in the race for this nation's Presidency. We have seen the likes of Winston Churchill - author, wit, strategist, Cabinet Minister, hero in the United Kingdom and Vaclav Havel, already an iconic poet and playwright in then Czechoslovakia, led a revolution and rose to the presidency. But not here in the United States. Guys like that don't have a chance.

The Jim Webb Story is big screen Hollywood. He grew up in a military family, served in Vietnam where he became a decorated hero, was Assistant Secretary of Defense then Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan. He also served as counsel to the House of Representatives on veteran's affairs, taught at the US Naval Academy, and devoted much of his adult life in defending both the lives and honor of his fellow combat veterans. He defeated a popular US Senator in Virginia and left the Senate of his own volition after one term. In his perhaps most famous moment, this grizzled war hero confronted the President of the United States and chastised him for the colossal mistake of going into Iraq. He has written ten best-selling novels and is worth millions of dollars. And there is more.

He is also hard to pin down ideologically. Anti-war and populist, he also opposes affirmative action. He has won convincingly in a vital swing state, appealing to both liberal voters in the suburbs of Washington, DC and also to the more conservative rural voters in the western part of Virginia. In that regard, a pundit could be excused for thinking that Mr. Webb has the right stuff in a general election. But he defies simple categorization and therein lies one of his big problems.

The Democrats have a strong, traditional progressive wing that has carried a lot of weight in the party since 1968. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders appears now to own that base. On the flip side is the establishment elite of the party and that belongs to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Then again, Mr. Webb can lay no claim to any special interest. His stance against affirmative action is anathema to African American voters and his position against Iraq and any unnecessary use of military action is far overshadowed by his emphasis on the China threat. He opposes the nuclear deal with Iran, negotiated by his own party's President and Secretary of State. There just doesn't seem to be a fit for him and he received almost no applause in the debate.

And the war hero was simply outgunned at the Democratic debate by two forceful frontrunners. Not one for clip one minute answers, he digressed and lost time. A free thinker and speaker, he is not accustomed to the rules of engagement in such a forum. In a room filled with vociferous supporters for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Mr. Webb could not carve out his niche. He had no memorable lines, no penetrating zingers, and spent way too much of his precious time complaining that he was given too little time.

It is too bad. Mr. Webb is a man of substance, has a spotless record, is eclectic in his ideas, compromising when he needs to be - and tough as nails when he digs in. He deserved to be on the stage but there was just not enough oxygen in the room for him to breathe. He is stuck at 1% or lower in most polls and is probably destined to stay there until he drops out.