I read last week about Jim Webb's unsuccessful attempt to avoid our current president at the White House reception for newly elected members of Congress. Aside from being grateful that we elected Webb instead of that jackass George Allen, I really didn't spend much time thinking about the event until I saw this piece by the perpetually-pompous George Will a few days later.
Although I think he's an intelligent man and an excellent writer, I try not to read George Will's columns, as they invariably piss me off. It's not that I disagree with him, though I often do, it's that I think he's a snooty elitist. But he's a snooty elitist who can usually put together a cogent argument.
Not so much with this column.
Let's start with paragraph two:
Wednesday's Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them [sic] out of Iraq." When the president again asked "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy."If you read Wednesday's WaPo, you know that Will's representation of the exchange between Webb and Bush is inaccurate at best, and deliberately misleading at worst. What Bush said in response to Webb's "I'd like to get them out of Iraq" was not a simple repetition of his initial question. Bush first said, "That's not what I asked you," and THEN repeated his question. Kinda changes the whole tone of the conversation, dontcha think?
Will goes on:
Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency.(You know, I can't get too excited about this. It's not like Bush has treated his office with much respect.)
Webb's more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being -- one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another.A civil and caring question, as one parent to another?! Give me a fuckin' break.
First of all, you don't get to send a bunch of kids to die in a war for which you manufactured justification and then ask their parents how they're doing. If you gave a shit about the troops you wouldn't have gotten them into this mess in the first place.
More importantly, "how's your boy fighting my war in Iraq?" is not a question the president can ask simply "as one parent to another." Bush, like most of the ruling class, does not have children on the front lines of this or any other war. Although Webb's son is truly a volunteer, he is an exception. The kids who enlist in the military tend to be the kids with limited options, as John Kerry so ineloquently attempted to point out. I'm sure parenting the sorority twins is not without its tribulations, but I doubt the Bush family lies awake at night worrying about the same things the families of our soldiers on the ground in Iraq do. Bush asked this question as a politician, not a parent.
George Will calls Webb "a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language," and advises him that "in a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves." Thankfully, we can also decline to read their snooty little columns.