Friday, December 01, 2006

Why On Earth Would Jim Webb Be Nice to George W. Bush?

When my small son watches cartoons, the characters are often imbued with a magical ability to get beaten senseless or even shot and then be in unharmed, pristine condition in the very next scene. Such is the way that Chickenhawks like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and George F. Will look at the world.

They've never seen war up close and personal, so they have no idea that it's scary, serious business.

So it's no wonder that Will was so aghast at the minor dustup that occurred recently when Bush asked Democratic Senator-elect Jim Webb how his son is doing while serving in the U.S. Marines in Iraq. According to the Washington Post, the incident, which took place at a White House reception, went something like this:
"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.
Webb had earlier declined the opportunity to stand in a receiving line for Bush and have his picture taken with the president.

"I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall," said Webb after the encounter.

So Will, who is, of course, a Chickenhawk like most of the Bush administration, writes a column taking Webb to task as a "boor" and showing that, like most of his hypocritical brethren -- they're all for war, but for God's sake don't ask them to fight in one -- have no idea what might make we Veterans react the way we sometimes do.

To Bush, the disastrous war he has pursued in Iraq is no more tangible than my little boy watching cartoons or any young child playing with plastic soldiers -- it's not real and the reality of it is damn sure lost on him. Similarly, to someone like Will, who has never served in the military or experienced combat, this is all just about politics and, no matter what Bush has effectively done to Webb's family, the new freshman Senator from Virginia should just smile and enjoy some backslapping with the president.

In a column called Already Too Busy for Civility, Will rips into Webb, calling him a "pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator."

An excerpt:
Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. 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. When -- if ever -- Webb grows weary of admiring his new grandeur as a "leader" who carefully calibrates the "symbolic things" he does to convey messages, he might consider this: In a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves.

Even before his studied truculence in response to the president's hospitality, Webb was going out of his way to make waves. A week after the election, he published a column in the Wall Street Journal that began this way:

"The most important -- and unfortunately the least debated -- issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country."
Gee, and I thought Webb's column was pretty damn good.

I have two main comments for Will -- who truly is a "pompous poseur."

One is that George W. Bush himself has shown the most "patent disrespect for the presidency" in the shady method by which he illegitimately gained the office and everything he has done since. For all the carping from right-wingers about what Bill Clinton did to the prestige of the office with the Lewinsky affair, Bush has stained it in ways that make Clinton look like Lincoln.

And why the hell, when asked a question like that, should Webb show an ounce of civility to Bush? Webb's son is in harm's way every day because of a war that Bush lied the country into and that his administration has screwed up every step of the way. The difference between men like Webb and boys like Bush and Will is that Virginia's Senator-elect is a highly-decorated combat Veteran who has seen how violent, unpredictable and unforgiving battle can be.

So Jim Webb is suddenly having the man whose actions may cause his son to come home in a coffin, in his face asking how his boy is doing? I'm impressed that Webb didn’t do what he later said he felt like doing: Sock Bush right in the nose.

And one more note for Chickenhawk Will.

You can stow that garbage about Bush asking "… a civil and caring question, as one parent to another." What should be easy enough for even a Republican to understand is that one parent has a child facing death in Iraq every day, while the man who has caused all of this, keeps his kids closer to Cancun and Aspen than Baghdad.

Webb should have asked Bush how Jenna and Barbara are doing -- and when they're heading to Iraq.

Update: The graphic used above to depict George Will is from the Deck of Republican Chickenhawks, which you can find here. The deck of cards has all the well-known Republican Chickenhawks, the conflict they avoided and why they're so damn hypocritical -- great stocking-stuffers for the holiday season!