November 30, 2006

"Webb... has become a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator."

Says George Will, who, deploying a triple-D alliteration to express his dismay, opines that "Washington has a way of quickly acculturating people, especially those who are most susceptible to derangement by the derivative dignity of office." He points to the wild, wacky Webb's encounter with the brusque, bullying Bush, who triggered Webb's ire by asking "How's your boy?"
In his novels and his political commentary, Webb has been a writer of genuine distinction, using language with care and precision. But just days after winning an election, he was turning out slapdash prose that would be rejected by a reasonably demanding high school teacher.
Webb, Will whispers, said that the rich are "literally living in a different country." The loathsome "literally" lapse!

I haven't read Webb's books, so I'm in no position to say whether they are written in such excellent style, and I don't know whether the language Webb wields in his new senatorial guise is all that different from his novelist's approach. But I suspect that what we're seeing is not a man who has instantly succumbed to Washington's ways but a man with a novelist's mentality in a new setting. One way to explain his awkward behavior with respect to the presidential receiving line is that he thought through that scene like a novelist. If you were writing a novel about a character like him going through a receiving line with a President like Bush, wouldn't that be exactly the sort of scene you'd want to think up?

Ordinarily, in all sorts of social and political situations, people try to figure out how other people usually act and to stick to the convention and proceed smoothly along. This is nice enough, but rather boring. In a novel, a conventional social situation tends to be a set up for our hero to do something that shakes things up. The ordinary characters are aghast. They condemn the bad behavior of the protaganist, and we readers, in our armchairs, know how right he is. Of course, a novelist who concocts scenes like that is himself utterly conventional.

I don't think Webb has quickly picked up the Washington style. I think he's got the novelist's style, and he's his own hero Senator in a novel about Washington. And, what immense fun this is going to be! It looks like a great read:
Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"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.
I can't put it down.

109 comments:

dave said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David said...

Webb's puffery will cost him dearly. Only he could pervert and equate the American dream of attaining wealth through hard work with a class based society!

No lack of humility here as he already believes his P.R. written by his own hand! Maybe next year we will find him floating above the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with the other hot air balloons!

MadisonMan said...

The comment thread from yesterday also proves that Webb and Bush are so incredibly transparent that everyone knows their innermost thoughts and what controls their actions. It's uncanny!

David said...

Dave;

I find your language unfit for civilized discussion and offensive!

I also remind you of a lesson you missed in grade school. When you point one finger at others three fingers are pointing right back at you!

Thank you for clearing up any questions the rest of us had regarding your mental fitness for debate!

Note to all: This person has no credibility and should be ignored!

AllenS said...

I can't remember where I read it, but yesterday there was a story about Webb ripping then President Clinton a new one. What's up with dave? Does he use a small d because he has a small dick?

OhioAnne said...

I very much like and respect the people that I work with and yet we are prone to get a lot more brusque with one another than this exchange on (if not daily) a weekly basis with one another.

The conversation may or may not have happened as written. I find it silly that it was reported and discussed, but, given the media's handling of "news" not surprising.

I would only truly be concerned if either man carried the "hurt" on past this point and used that "hurt" as a basis for a policy decision.

Ann Althouse said...

[D]ave is the protagonist of his own little book about the one man who knows the truth about how everyone in the world is mentally retarded.

Ann Althouse said...

MadisonMan said: "The comment thread from yesterday also proves..."

Yeah, don't repeat yesterday's comment thread!!

I must insist that you deal with the new material in this post. Go back and write in the old post if you want to talk generally about the Webb-Bush encounter. I've made some specific points here, and they were not made before. Let's keep this post focused and use the old post for the more general reactions to Webb.

Doyle said...

Yeah Ann, this post is really groundbreaking in a way that yesterday's was not.

You've clearly taken the time to consider just how you want to try to make Webb out to be the jerk here. Use George Will as cover (and to provide the title), and then segue in to some original Althouse nonsense about Webb being a fictional character in his own mind.

What garbage.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, we have the war in Iraq, which is killing so many innocent Iraqis, tearing their country apart and has the potential to spread into a regional war. It's the worst foreign policy debacle since the Vietnam War. Shall I make that my lead post in my blog?
No, Webb becoming a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language is much more important to the fate of our country.
And my insightful analysis will point out that he percieves the real world as a novelist would in one of his works of fiction.
Although I disapprove of dave's language, I have essentially made the same observation as he did.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ann. I'm at the distinct disadvantage of not having actually been in the room and privy to the actual conversation so I could discern tone and context, but that doesn't seem to have stopped hundreds of others from weighing in regarding what was meant by whom, and what their motivations were, so what the hell, I'm in.

That said, this whole deal initially impressed me as something that was dreamed up and planned to go exactly as it went by Senator Drama King (D- VA). Ann's contention that this incident was staged by Webb to fit some kind of internal daydream ("Boy, when I meet that SOB face-to-face I'm gonna give him what-for...") seems credible to me.

Of course to make that statement, I have to disregard the fact that trying to read motive into a written transcript is rife with potential error, but no one else seems to care about that, so I too shall ignore it.

Pogo said...

I am more inclined toward Althouse's sense of the scene, Webb as novelist, over Will's desciption, which I found inapt.

Cantankerous curmudgeons are a recurring American character, some are loveable, some repellent, others risible. Webb here doesn't seem genial or seductive in his contrariness, but rather prickly and off-putting. First impressions anyway.

As dor dave, what hell it must be to live as dave, never to be recognized for your exalted wonderfulness because the world is just too stupid to see it. So he is left with urinating his message on other people's lawns.

MadisonMan said...

Well, George Will wasn't at this meet 'n' greet, and yet he also, like yesterday's commentariat, apparently knows the innermost workings of the two protagonists. However flowerly he puts it, Mr. Will wasn't watching Webb wrangle W with witticism (or wudeness). But as Will writes: "Never mind". (That's a construct I don't like -- if you don't want to consider it, don't mention it!)

The one sentence I've seen that rings most true in this little drama came from Webb: ..leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is. Both Bush and Webb did that in this exchange.

troutjacki said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

george said..."No, Webb becoming a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language is much more important to the fate of our country. And my insightful analysis will point out that he percieves the real world as a novelist would in one of his works of fiction. Although I disapprove of dave's language, I have essentially made the same observation as he did."

Well, George since I disagreed with Will, your comment is incoherent, but I take it to mean that I need to post about things in the order that (you think) they are important. I reject that approach to blogging. There's nothing "stupid" about that. You're just such a rigid person that you think there is one true way to do things and the failure to see that true way must be caused by stupidity. Good luck with that.

Ann Althouse said...

MM: "' ..leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is.'"

I'm amazed that you don't make the obvious connection to my point! That's novelist talk!

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry, troutjacki. I can't let you use this blog to float stories about actual people. Take it to a journalist.

Henry said...

MadisonMan 7:51, that's the perfect wrap-up.

Doyle, I think you're missing the point. Ann appears to me to slyly ridiculing the pompous Will, not agreeing with him.

George, if Ann wanted to write your talking points, she wouldn't need a blog, just a bumper sticker. How can you people be having fun when there's so much sin and perversion in the world! Do people avoid you at parties?

Speaking of parties, I can imagine that Webb was standing outside himself at the reception, though I see this as the province of introverts as much as novelists. Is Webb a shy person? Certainly he predetermined how he would act, which is an exercise of will-power over engagement: "I will not shake the President's hand" is not so different from "I will make sure I talk to at least three new people."

The problem is dealing with actual people. If Webb actually got as angry as "sources" say, did he decide to be angry or did Bush trigger his anger in a way that Webb didn't anticipate?

w. michael murphy said...

You have it exactly right! He is living in his developing novel, and he is the hero. Even better, I believe he chose Tom Clancey as the author of his own story about his own life as a hero Senator on the accurate thesis that Clancey would tell the story better than he. Problem is, Webb is a boor.

vegetius said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mack said...

Ha, I agree, it's pretty good drama. George Will totally misrepresented the exchange. I guess that's his message to Webb: less honesty.

I like people who misuse words like "literally" though. With so many metaphors thrown around, who really considers them anyway, unless you really hit them over the head with it? I'm pretty sure politics isn't about subtlety.

david, if you think the upper class in this country all or mostly would have gotten there if they had grown up in poverty, I think you're nuts.

Doyle said...

Doyle, I think you're missing the point.

If there is a point, other than "That Jim Webb thinks he's so great!", I'm missing it by a mile.

What explanation does she have for Bush's behavior?

MD said...

Hmmmm, it's always interesting what other people want to read. I could definitely put down the book titled "The Hero Novelist Senator in Washington." I doubt I'd get past the first page, actually. Plus, economic populism! What's up with that, Mr. Hero Novelist Senator in Washington?

*Did anyone else crack up with the slighly old-fashioned "Lady" prefacing the insult in comment #1? I read it with that Jerry Lewis voice running through my head....hey lady!

MD said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
foxlets14 said...

Whatever Will thinks about how Webb handled the President's inquiry, one cannot avoid the fact that Webb will be a highly influential Senator. "On November 15, 2006, Senate majority leader in waiting Harry Reid assigned Webb to three committees: the committees on foreign relations, Veterans' Affairs, and Armed Services." Given this, I believe the President may have made a very serious blunder Time will tell, but a brief review of Webb's bio (e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_H._Webb) reveals an unusually
interesting person who is quite different from most if not all other Senators. He wears his heart on his sleeve and, of one thing I'm certain, he really, really, REALLY doesn't like or respect George W. Bush and he never will be able to hide it. In view of his bio I sure can understand why this is so. I don't know what kind of a Senator he'll make, but in combat I'd follow him into the jaws of Hell!

SteveR said...

Ann's observation makes a certain amount of sense. I guess over the next few years we will get a pretty good idea if that's how he operates.

Maybe we'll get some Cheney/Leahy type interactions.

Anonymous said...

He's a truculent bastard that despises anyone who hasn't or won't exhibit physical courage.

That's another facet that makes Webb, as a character, so interesting.

If you imagine Webb thinking in terms of story structure, the scene makes sense. I like Ann's explanation, and I don't think it tars Webb. It makes him a more sympathetic character.

Al Maviva said...

What's the new book called?

Mr. Smite Goes to Washington?

Anonymous said...

Doyle: What explanation does she have for Bush's behavior?

The subject of the post was Webb's behavior, not Bush's. Bush's behavior is dissected everywhere on a daily basis, and Ann chose to focus on Will's column and her reaction to it. If you'd rather talk about Bush's behavior, why don't you and George start a blog together to discuss it?

Will's take on Webb's abuse of language is accurate, but I agree with Ann that Will has misdiagnosed Webb's motivations. I don't know Webb, but based on the public record, he appears to be the kind of guy who would always say something for effect. Anyone who takes the time to formulate the thought, leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is, believes it, and then actually regurgitates it in an interview when discussing what should be a minor matter of courtesy, is someone who is role-playing in a big way.

That Webb has cast himself in the role of hero senator in the novel of his life makes sense to me. But fiction runs on different rules than reality. Let's see how well he does in the non-fiction world.

Too Many Jims said...

Being called pompous by Will is high praise indeed. I like Will's writing and frequently agree with his views but he sure does come accross as a pompous man or, at a minimum, he employs pompous language.

Althouse alludes alluringly to the possibility that Webb thought through the staging of the interaction as a novelist would think through a scene. The fact that Webb did not go through the receiving line and did not have his picture taken with the President would seem to support such a theory. But if the source/narrator for the Post story is to believed (are narrators ever to be believed?) the President "found" Webb despite Webb's attempts at evasion. So perhaps we should allow for the possibility that the President was the one who constructed/authored the scene.

Of course, it is possible that Webb the author of the scene "knew" something about the "character" of the President which would compel the Presdent to seek out a confrontation with the unwilling Webb.

In my view, if Webb did think through the dialogue in advance he either mangled it badly like an actor deviating from the script or entrusted it to the wrong source/narrator or he is intent on portraying a character with both promise and flaws.

AllenS said...

Al: how about Senator Spins a Webb.

SteveWe said...

Is Webb "his own hero Senator in a novel about Washington"? I think so. Look at these cites:

"In tribute to [his son] Jimmy and 'all the people sent into harm's way', Webb wore his son's old combat boots every day during his 2006 Senate campaign." NYT Sept. 18, 2006

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Webb wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today (Feb. 18, 2004), in which he accused Bush of using his father's connections to avoid service in Vietnam.

IMO, the first cite shows Webb to be a bit of a drama king. The second cite shows that Webb holds a certain amount of contempt for Bush.

Webb is Scots-Irish and he lauds the fiercely independent streak and individualism of the Scots-Irish. Think Andrew Jackson and John Calhoun. When Webb is reported to have been tempted to "slug" the president after their first meeting, we should not be surprised.

Will Webb pick up on the Washington style? I doubt it. I think he'll relish the role he has cast for himself. Will he be an effective senator? No, not without "Washington style."

Mack said...

The thing to me is that where Webb's intensity is justified by standard theory that he's being asked about his son in a war zone, Bush's hostile counter isn't really justified by anything.

If Bush had responded magnanimously, or even anything other than openly hostile, I think he could have won the exchange. When he attacks in response, though, it only further justifies Webb's bluntness.

LarryK said...

Vegetius - you got that right. Webb's fiction shows contempt for anyone who hasn't proven himself in battle - which I suspect is the real reason he hates Bush and therefore opposes the Iraq war. But he displays a deeper, more pure hate for anti-war activists who know nothing about the military - think back to the end of Fields of Fire where the Ivy League vet meets the anti-war protesters and tells them to shove it. "Born Fighting" states even more explicitly how he despises academic and media elites who look down on military culture, and how he learned for the first time how alien that culture was to him while at law school. Being Webb, he wraps this all up in ethnic baggage, equating the elites to the descendants of upper class Englishmen who the pugilistic Scots-Irish (his people) have been fighting for centuries.

Based on both his fiction and nonfiction, it's impossible to overstate how clearly Webb divides the world into two groups - those who fight and kill (good) and those that don't. Add the extremist ethnic identity and almost pagan attachment to native soil and you've got one disturbing, far right package the likes of which hasn't been seen in the US Senate for generations. He's one to watch all right.

P. Froward said...

Oh, look, another cocky, self-appointed moral paragon. It takes a big man to have no manners whatsoever.

He's a narcissistic bozo. Lack of self control is not the reliable indicator of moral superiority that people like "dave" above seem to think it is.

P. Froward said...

...much less a reliable indicator of intellectual superiority, another strange notion these folks appear to cling to sometimes.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

That Webb has cast himself in the role of hero senator in the novel of his life makes sense to me. But fiction runs on different rules than reality. Let's see how well he does in the non-fiction world.

The problem with casting yourself (in your own mind) as the hero of an ongoing novel is that you tend to forget that there are many many other authors writing in the same book. Being just one player in the novel and not necessarily the central hero Webb imagines himself to be, he may be surprised when the plot doesn't turn out exactly as envisioned.

Richard Dolan said...

Ann says: "I think he's got the novelist's style, and he's his own hero Senator in a novel about Washington. And, what immense fun this is going to be!"

Like Ann, I haven't read his novels, and probably never will. But assuming that Ann is right about Webb's casting himself in the senator-as-novelist role, it doesn't sound like Webb will add much that is useful to an already dysfunctional process, unless sheer amusement at the egotism of it all is what you're after. If novelist-as-scene maker is what Webb was doing in his encounter with Bush, then I think Ann is on stronger ground when she says that the kind of preconstructed novelistic scene that Webb played out was "utterly conventional." That would be damning in a book review, and it isn't any better here. The "convention" is clearly two-dimensional, pulp fiction; the characters in that kind of scene are made of cardboard; and any resemblance to real life or people is purely coincidental.

If Ann is right about Webb in the senator-as-novelist role, he comes across as too tightly wound for his own good (to say nothing of his constituents), self righteous to the point of vanity, unshakably committed to his goals and wedded to a view of the world that many will find to be more fiction than reality. If that's what makes him tick (I have no idea whether the portrait is accurate), then he manages the remarkable feat of combining the worst character flaws that their critics (think dave, derve and that crowd) attribute to McCain and Bush.

If watching all of that unfold over the next few years strikes you as fun, you're probably also a fan of demolition derbys. If this were a novel, I wouldn't make it past the first chapter.

Doug H. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Doug H. said...

You have an interesting perspective on this Professor Althouse, although I disagree with both you and Will.

The reason for Webb's behavior is a bit more primitive. His life has been about proving he's tougher and better than everyone else. I don't believe the exchange with the President was as contrived as you make it out to be. It's who Webb is.

There are a lot of men in the military like this. They set "don't mess with me" boundaries with others all the time (especially with people they don't respect).

The Duck Goose said...

Althouse is so right! "One way to explain his awkward behavior in the presidential receiving line is that he thought through that scene like a novelist" -- precisely, since according to the report Althouse quotes, "Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line."

He totally and novelistically set up the scene in the presidential receiving line by not standing in it. Only a novelist would be capable of such cleveritude.

vegetius said...

LarryK:
To what you said above..Amen,brother.
You hit the nail on the head.

The Jerk said...

I use to chide my girlfriend for using "literally" when she actually meant its exact opposite, but apparently some feel that usage is so common that it is now permissible.

http://www.robertfulford.com/literally.html

MadisonMan said...

p. froward: Oh, look, another cocky, self-appointed moral paragon. It takes a big man to have no manners whatsoever.

He's a narcissistic bozo. Lack of self control is not the reliable indicator of moral superiority that people like "dave" above seem to think it is.


I can't quite tell: is it Bush, Webb, or dave that is the self-appointed moral paragon? :)

As a tall person, I wonder if Webb is short and is compensating for his lack of stature by being blunt. If he's short, is he tall in the novel?

Ann Althouse said...

Duck Goose: You're right. I've changed "in" to "with respect to."

Anonymous said...

"I can't put it down."

I find it unreadable. Webb's disagreement on policy doesn't empower him to renounce simple human courtesy. It was vulgar behavior and it is a shame to embarrass your constituents before you even formally take office.

Doyle said...

which I suspect is the real reason he hates Bush and therefore opposes the Iraq war.

Right, because the only thing not to like about the Iraq War is that the guy who started it never served.

It probably doesn’t have anything to do with his assessment that it was a bad idea strategically, or that the ostensible reason for the war was false, or that there was never any plan for what to do once we easily defeated the Iraqi army.

No, it’s almost certainly just the visceral dislike for everyone who hasn’t served.

And if there's anyone more viscerally dislikable than the smirking chimp...

Shanna said...

MM: "' ..leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is.'"
I'm amazed that you don't make the obvious connection to my point! That's novelist talk!


I totally agree that this is novelist talk. He’s trying to be somebody specific. As a character, he is rather fascinating, which is his intent, I’m sure.

Based on both his fiction and nonfiction, it's impossible to overstate how clearly Webb divides the world into two groups - those who fight and kill (good) and those that don't.

It’s a very male view, though, isn’t it? Wasn’t the buzz pre-election on Webb that he is somewhat dismissive of females? Does this worldview bear that out?

Also, as someone of Scotch-Irish heritage, I don’t think it’s nearly so simple as who wants to fight. The English fought! I think it’s more about the reasons for fighting and the results. Although I will say, I always though it was interesting that my Scottish ancestors decided to move here in 1776. Who decides to immigrate to a country who's just started a war for independance?

Shanna said...

If watching all of that unfold over the next few years strikes you as fun, you're probably also a fan of demolition derbys. If this were a novel, I wouldn't make it past the first chapter.

Ah, but don't you think he makes a very intersting pathetic character in this study? He is trying to be the hero, but he's actually a bore with no manners. I wouldn't read his book about himself but I would read one by someone else about him if that makes any sense.

LarryK said...

Doyle - it's probably a minority view at this point, but I've always found Bush likeable and even admirable in his own way. I see Bush up to the age of 40 as a classic example of a first son of an extremely successful man - living in his father's shadow, struggling (usually unsuccessfully) to make his own way, fighting hidden demons and insecurities. There are so many examples of this they're hardly worth mentioning (e.g. how many successful, prominent sons of ex-Presidents can you name?). But then Bush pulled himself together, quit drinking, became extremely self-disciplined, and started to make his own mark. Yes, he was starting from an extremely privileged position, but he still took a struggling baseball franchise and made it more successful, defeated a sitting Governor in an election he was expected to lose, was chosen to head the State Governor's association by his peers (in effect, chosen to be the leader by his fellow Governors), won re-election with 70% of the vote and the endorsement of many Texas Democrats, and by all accounts was seen as Presidential timber by the GOP wise men before he made his run. God knows he has his limitations, and has made significant mistakes, but the fact that W pulled his life together is in my opinion a compelling story - far more admirable, for example, than Bill Clinton's climb up the greasy pole (with his demons still intact).

radiofreerome said...

George Will implicitly defended a semi-literate president, who admits he doesn't read much less write, who lied this country into a war that endangers to the life of Senator Webb's son, along with tens of thousands of others in his generation.

Instead Will cites _Webb_ for bad English and arrogance. I had some hope for a while that Will had ceased to be a prostitute for the Republican right. I see those hopes vanishing.

dklittl said...

Ah, but don't you think he makes a very intersting pathetic character in this study? He is trying to be the hero, but he's actually a bore with no manners. I wouldn't read his book about himself but I would read one by someone else about him if that makes any sense.

Again, isn't that Bush you're referring to.

Mack said...

It was vulgar behavior and it is a shame to embarrass your constituents before you even formally take office.

Was it vulgar to say he wants his son out of Iraq, or was it vulgar to end the conversation after Bush said he didn't want to hear it? I don't really get it.

Abraham said...

I don't really get it.

Really? Or do you not want to "get it?" They were both vulgar answers IMO because (a) they ungraciously turned the subject from the welfare of Webb's son to Webb's own political opinions and (b) they unnecessarily politicized a purely social interaction. If he didn't want to discuss it, he could have simply answered "I'm sorry, but I don't want to discuss my son."

Not to totally excuse Bush either, of course. "I didn't ask you about that" only escalates the hostility. He clearly could have restated his question in a more graceful way.

I'm just guessing that they're both a little short-tempered right now. I don't think there's anything to cheer in the exchange.

Doyle said...

LarryK -

That's a good (dare I say, extraordinary?) rendition of the George W. Bush story. I don't take issue with any of that stuff except perhaps the success of the Texas Rangers.

But it is different from my version, and now (too late, of course) a minority view.

Doyle said...

Yeah where does Webb get off taking a question about his son in Iraq to be some kind of excuse to comment on the Iraq War?

Those crazy Scots-Irish!

Drew W said...

I found that I agreed with George Will's assessment of James Webb's behavior, although I think the Bush-Webb dustup has become a political Rorschach test, with Bush antagonists seeing Webb as a man who bravely refused to kiss the President's ring -- and most of the rest of us seeing a guy whom Will reasonably accurately described as "boorish" (or merely calculating).

But I have two words to add to this debate that I don't think have been uttered so far (to my knowledge):

Barney Clark.

In 1982, Clark, a 61-year-old retired dentist, became the first recipient of the Jarvik artificial heart and an overnight national celebrity. When President Reagan met him at his bedside, Clark wasted no time in complaining to the Leader Of The Free World that his social security checks hadn't been arriving as they were supposed to. He figured that since the President was right there, he'd take the opportunity to complain in person. Reagan was savvy enough to behave like a public servant, and told Clark that he'd look into the matter and make sure that things were set right regarding his government checks.

At that point, I loathed Reagan with the same vehemence that today's BDS sufferers loathe Bush, but was pleased that Reagan gave Clark such deferential treatment. There may have been some who thought Clark insufficiently respectful of his President, but I think most of us viewed this as a fine example of the way American government was supposed to work. Barney Clark was a regular Joe, made briefly famous (he'd died by year's end) by a new medical procedure, and he matter-of-factly made his complaints known.

James Webb, on the other hand, is one of the most powerful people in the country, and his obvious yearning to blow a big, fat raspberry at Bush is to me somehow less than inspiring.

In short: James Webb, you're no Barney Clark.

Doyle said...

Again, for Drew's benefit, "Bush antagonists" includes most of the country. It’s Bush apologists who are a group unto themselves.

And if Webb was such a boor, George Will probably wouldn’t have had to doctor the exchange in his column.

AllenS said...

It sounds to me like Webb was trying to start a fight, and Bush called him on it. Webb later said that he wanted to punch Bush. What would have happened if he tried to punch Bush, and Bush kicked his ass? Bush is in good shape. We live in interesting times. Are we going to settle our differences by fighting each other? If so, I have dibbs on dave.

Salamandyr said...

Drew, that is a great story.

To be fair, Bush's response wasn't quite as inspiring as Reagan's. But then, Bush's poor response was only necessitated by Webb's unnecessary hostility.

MD said...

Well, in order to make the point pertinent to this particular post (alliteration!), do you suppose the novel-ish account of the encounter is one of those "loosey goosey maybe it's true, maybe it's not" biographies, is it a meticulously researched and annotated biography, is it fiction, or is it merely journalism? Hahahaha.

Honestly, I think it should be a play where the reporters act out the scene with all the proper inflections, hand-gestures, and head movements....enquiring minds want to know!

Doyle said...

Are we going to settle our differences by fighting each other? If so, I have dibbs on dave.

I'm so impressed and intimidated by this guy.

Smilin' Jack said...

One way to explain his awkward behavior with respect to the presidential receiving line is that he thought through that scene like a novelist.

His behavior wasn't awkward, it was boorish. It was Bush's party...if Webb wasn't willing to go through the receiving line, he shouldn't have gone to the reception.

If you were writing a novel about a character like him going through a receiving line with a President like Bush, wouldn't that be exactly the sort of scene you'd want to think up?

Yes, if I wanted to establish the character as a clueless lout. Since Webb seems unaware of the impression he made, his cluelessness would seem to be fact, not fiction.

Doyle said...

Since Webb seems unaware of the impression he made, his cluelessness would seem to be fact

Either he was a boor and made a bad impression on everyone (except the filthy left) OR he is a calculating novelist who orchestrated the whole thing for political benefit.

It can't be both.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It sounds to me like Webb was trying to start a fight, and Bush called him on it. Webb later said that he wanted to punch Bush. What would have happened if he tried to punch Bush, and Bush kicked his ass? Bush is in good shape. We live in interesting times. Are we going to settle our differences by fighting each other? If so, I have dibbs on dave.

Ha Ha Ha... I really would love to see this. In fact I think all of our wars and political disagreements should be handled this way. A slapdown contest between world leaders is something that would actually be worthwhile to watch on television. I would even buy it on pay per view!!! Much better than any other reality show.

Probably would need some stand-ins or pinch hitters for some of the participants. The Pope vs Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vs the Prime Minister of Israel in a winner take all free for all. Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olberman in a spectacular mud wrestling match.

Henry said...

It can't be both

It can't? Does boorishness have to be uncalculated? Woody Allen will be relieved.

In any case, this novel needs some scene-setting.

Did Webb go through the receiving line and refuse to shake the president's hand? Or, did he just linger by the bar where the President sought him out? Was there a receiving line? Was there a bar? Pretzels? Is Webb a short man? Shorter than Bush? Did one tower over the other? Any clenched fists? Throbbing veins? Narrowed eyes? Gritted teeth?

So much we don't know.

dklittl said...

It sounds to me like Webb was trying to start a fight, and Bush called him on it. Webb later said that he wanted to punch Bush. What would have happened if he tried to punch Bush, and Bush kicked his ass?

Haha

On one hand a guy who finished first in his Marine Corps Basic training and a Scot/Irishman (sorry to stereotype) to boot and on the other, a New England prep school WASP and cheerleader who became a weekend warrior just to avoid the draft. Yeah, I'm sure once Bush starts swinging haymakers, Webb will run and hide at that site of such a manly-man.

dklittl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
johnstodderinexile said...

Whatever Will thinks about how Webb handled the President's inquiry, one cannot avoid the fact that Webb will be a highly influential Senator.

That's exactly why this discussion is perhaps more important than yet another blab-fest about Bush. Well, not this discussion, but the kind of discussion that might have followed from Ann's post.

I was excited by Webb's election. Here's just what the Democrats need, and in fact the Senate needs -- a guy steeped in the issues of the military and foreign affairs, who was critical of the weak hopefulness and lack of vigilance during Clinton's years, then just as critical of the gung-ho naivete of the neocons. That's what I thought. A real "third way," not the PR-BS "third way" of Clinton.

Now, it seems to me that Webb is in danger of becoming a laughing-stock. Not yet, but he's heading down that road. He is still possessed of important ideas, but my fear is he won't be listened to. Instead he'll be caricatured by the press as some kind of narcissistic hothead, leaving the Senate's liberal wing without anyone to challenge or balance it from within.

For the sake of the country, I hope Webb changes his act. Too much is at stake.

Have Skunk said...

Webb doesn't live inside Chimperor Nutsack's bubble of delusion. He lives in the real world, where he has a son who could get killed because of the brain farts of this idiot president. Further, Will and his ilk will never serve, have never served and likely don't have any kids serving, which explains their effete servility to the pompus, pants-peeing Washington crowd who consider it a disaster if Fresh Fields runs out of their favorite cheese. Will treads thin ice with this coulum.

AJ Lynch said...

Drew;

Freat story- thanks for sharing. Barney Clark did what a lot of ordinary people would have done.

On the other hand, Webb is far from ordinary and he should have acted in a suitable manner. There are situations where you follow generally accepted standards of behavior. These include weddings, funerals, parties to which you are invited and must attend.

I can't stand a bunch of pols and would be tempted to spit on them if I ever met BUT I have family and don't want to set a poor example. So I restrain the urge.

It is a shame the commenters have basically split into two camps based on the commenter political leanings.

Lastly, it seems the Dems are desperate to find "their Great White Hope". By that I mean a standard-bearer that they believe is tough- they thought they had one in Kerry but he turned out to be a weakling. This is revealing that the Dems secretly acknowledge their main leaders appear weak.

And as to dkittl, you have obvioulsy not seen many fights or you would know upsets and surprises happen. The big bad blowhards are not always the real tough ones.

anselm said...

LarryK's rendition of Bush's life narrative is an interesting one that I hadn't really condiered before. Very appropriate for this dicussion about Webb seemingly acting based on his own personal narrative.

Although I think Ann's psychoanalysis of Webb is facile and overly convenient to her political views, in a general way she is right that whatever makes Webb tick, it's inside of him, and it is probably ferocious and dark more than it is breezy and accomodating. In any case he does NOT strike me as a pouty prima donna as some have tried to paint him. I believe his history, and now this evenet, show that he doesn't give a rat's ass what the outside world thinks he ought to do. And that may be his biggest handicap in the Senate. (As if an overblow ego would actually hinder you in the Senate. Sheesh.)

Mack said...

(a) they ungraciously turned the subject from the welfare of Webb's son to Webb's own political opinions and (b) they unnecessarily politicized a purely social interaction.

Well, "ungraciously"? I think that's a far cry from "vulgar."

My problem here is also twofold. 1.) Jim Webb is a Senator, asked how his son is doing in Iraq. Lo and behold, given the opportunity, Webb offers a little honesty, saying his son would be doing a lot better if he weren't over in Iraq. He's not insulting. He doesn't go off on a tangent, or demand that Bush respond. At most, he delivers a simple message: the cost of this war is personal, and I take it personally. Vulgar? Please. If Webb wanted to be vulgar, I'm pretty sure he knows how.
2.) In responding, Bush makes it simultaneously clear that he doesn't give a damn, that he'll decide himself when he wants to hear Webb's opinion, and then demeans Webb by repeating a personal question that Webb clearly didn't care to talk about. Simply because Webb said one sentence, that he'd like for his son to be out of Iraq?

No, Webb isn't Barney Clark; he's a Senator from Virginia. But a President is still a President. I guess I have a hard time understanding sensibilities so precious that they'd consider Webb's statement "boorish," without noticing anything objectionable about Bush's own interaction.

Knemon said...

"a semi-literate president, who admits he doesn't read much less write"

When did he "admit" that?

I've never voted for him, but I just don't get The Hatred.

Doyle said...

Here ya go, Knemon. From those Bush-haters at NewsMax.

vegetius said...

If anyone is really interested in the kind of guy Webb is pick up "The Nightengales Song" by Timberg.

You can skim to the part where he and Oliver North have a real knock-down drag-out boxing match at Annapolis.

I'm a Bush supporter but in a real brawl it would be Webb in the first two miinutes of the first round. No contest.But, unlike his detractors on this thread ,Bush would fight.

Doyle said...

Bush would fight.

He had his chance during Vietnam, right?

Knemon said...

Yes, yes, we all know that he claims not to read the papers.

Does this make him "semi-literate?" Does this mean he "doesn't read" (full stop)?

Again, I never thought I was exactly a "Bush apologist." Is there no middle ground between being a "brownshirt" and pursuing the guy as your own personal white whale?

Shanna said...

But a President is still a President. I guess I have a hard time understanding sensibilities so precious that they'd consider Webb's statement "boorish," without noticing anything objectionable about Bush's own interaction.
I think most people have said they both came off badly in this exchange.

"a semi-literate president, who admits he doesn't read much less write"
…When did he "admit" that?

Doyle, that article says he doesn’t read the Papers, not that he doesn’t read or write. A lot of people don’t read the paper everyday, that doesn’t mean they are illiterate. Of all the criticisms of Bush, the “semi-literate” one has to be the stupidest.

Shanna said...

Is there no middle ground between being a "brownshirt" and pursuing the guy as your own personal white whale?

Apparently not, according to folks like dave.

Joe Baby said...

Wonder if Webb will go after his own party and its Fair Weather Caucus. He sounds like a man who would have a thing to say about "phased redeployment" or whatever is the phrase of the week.

If he starts grabbing Reid and Co. by their lapels, then I'll really be impressed.

vegetius said...

Doyle:
"Bush would fight.

He had his chance during Vietnam, right?"

You've got your chance now, right?

mortymadcat said...

Regarding the Bush vs. Webb fight -
Webb was the Brigade boxing champion for his weight-class at the Naval Academy. His name was still on a plaque in the gym when I took boxing during Plebe summer.

The coach still remembered him, as he was quite a fighter during his time in the ring.

My money's on Webb - bring it on...

AllenS said...

dklittl:
I finished 2nd in my Army basic training test. At the time, I probably weighed 140 lbs. What's your point. Did you do any basic training? Do you know what you are judged at? What skills that you need? I'll answer those questions, no, you don't.

vegetius said...

Mortymadcat:

Yeh, I figure Bush as a 5 to 1 underdog boxing...10 to 1 in mixed martial arts.

If we could only bring back dueling political discourse would be ever so much more civil and we could all save a lot of lawyer fees. (Sorry Ann)

Anonymous said...

Per Dave: Yes, the stupid does burn, doesn't it?

Althouse calls Webb a "man with a novelist's mentality in a new setting," Hmm. Funny, I thought James Webb served as Asst. Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy under Reagan. Sure he wrote some novels, but let's face it: It's not his first time at the DC Rodeo. And he stood up to Bush, which -- when you look at the state of Iraq and our own country these days -- is something we obviously need more of. Go Webb!!!

George said...

Webb reminds me of South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks.

Remember him?

He's the one who attacked abolitionist Sen. Sumner with his cane on the Senate floor in 1856.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preston_Brooks

Beat the man until his stick broke.

Here's part of what he said in his own defense:

"If I desired to kill the senator why did I not do it? You all admit that I had him in my power. It was expressly to avoid taking life that I used an ordinary cane, presented to me by a friend in Baltimore nearly three months before its application to the “bare head” of the Massachusetts senator. I went to work very deliberately, as I am charged—and this is admitted—and speculated somewhat as to whether I should employ a horsewhip or a cowhide; but knowing that the senator was my superior in strength, it occurred to me that he might wrest it from my hand, and then—for I never attempt anything I do not perform—I might have been compelled to do that which I would have regretted the balance of my natural life."

http://www.bartleby.com/268/9/15.html

Just wild, insane.

Cedarford said...

I found the Will article as expected. Will has become a smarmy, pompous twit over the years. He tries a triple play in his column and, being who he is, boots catching the hard line drive before he can throw out the two runners leaving base on the fly ball.

Will "tut-tuts" Webbs "intemperateness", then lectures him on proper use of the English language in improperly using "infinite", then dwells on Webb saying politicans have not addressed growing wealth divides in America, by class. Will gives the usual "Class conflict? What class conflict? America is the land of opportunity and the rich take care of the lesser people..." patronizing talk that has become so familiar.

While I agree that Webbs behavior was petulant and classless, he is on mark with the growing divide of "The Two Americas" as Edwards put it...and the growing isolation of the families who bear the volunteer military and huge sacrifice on their backs while the other 95% of America skates.

The truth is sometimes very simple. Warren Buffett described this best. He said he believes in progressive taxation and does not try for the trusts, charities with strings, writeoffs of his mansions as places of business and entertainment, drives his own car(s) and pays taxes on them from.

Yet because he gets most of his income from capital gains and pays off FICA his first day at work every year as over 20,000 others at the top do - and because his "share of regressive taxes" everyone pays are so minutely small...

His executive secretary pays almost 70% more in total taxes and fees on each dollar she earns than does Warren. Curious, he asked his barber to check with Warren's accountant...turns out his barber has almost 50% of what he earns going to total taxes and fees, double what Warren pays.

America's second richest man agrees that the class divide Webb warns about exists, that most of the wealth gains of the last 10 years went to the 1% at the top, that he and other very wealthy pay less taxes per dollar earned than all but the poor, working poor, and lower middle class with large families and a stay-at-home parent.

************************

Vegetious - Doyle:
"Bush would fight.

He had his chance during Vietnam, right?"


Only 1/3rd of the people in the Armed Forces in the Vietnam Era served in the loosely defined "combat theater". And many of those that "served" in Vietnam were support elements that never set foot in Vietnam (Navy, AF bases in adjacent countries) or if they were in country, arrived at a safe American megabase like Da Nang and never left it's sanctuary.

The rest were Cold War and Homeland Defense oriented.

Only Lefties clueless of their important missions existing concurrently with Vietnam attempt to minimize the importance of serving in subs, US-based fighter squadrons, in Korea, in Germany - or at Rota Spains Elint Signals - among countless other missions besides being a "'Nam grunt" that were critical to our defense.
Or insinuate that not being in Vietnam was "cowardly" for everyone in uniform that didn't go their...but anyone NOT in uniform who dodged ANY service - namely a whole big pack of anti-American Lefties - somehow CANNOT be called cowardly.

Got it, Vegetious!

Kev said...

"That's a good (dare I say, extraordinary?) rendition of the George W. Bush story. I don't take issue with any of that stuff except perhaps the success of the Texas Rangers."

I think he meant that the Rangers became more successful as a business; I concede that we're still waiting for the team to advance to at least the second round of the playoffs.

(says the guy who's been a partial season-ticket holder since 1998)

Derve said...

Though Bush scraped together only $606,000 to invest, he was made a managing partner. The Rangers investors tagged Bush, with his now-famous name, to serve as the group's face to the public. That role suited the affable Bush perfectly. In turn, the Texas baseball team (and soon, a brand new taxpayer-subsidized stadium in Arlington, near Dallas) gave Bush a base -- after a decade of failures in the oil business -- to start building a political image in the state.

If the Rangers deal looked like a home run, Harken was a foul ball. As a member in 1989 of Harken's audit committee, Bush signed off on a deal, similar to recent shenanigans by Enron, that inflated company earnings.
...
By the fall of 1993, the SEC ended its inquiry. Hiler sent a letter to Bush's attorney saying "the investigation has been terminated as to the conduct of Mr. Bush, and that, at this time, no enforcement action is contemplated with respect to him."

With the SEC inquiry over, Bush resigned in late 1993 from the Harken board to pursue his successful run for governor of Texas. By 1998, Bush had served four years as Texas governor and was preparing for a second term. He also was ready to unload his stake in the Texas Rangers. After buying the team for $86-million in 1989, Bush and his co-owners sold the franchise in 1998 to media mogul Tom Hicks for $250-million.

Bush, who held a mere 1.8 percent stake in the Rangers, was paid 12 percent of the sales price in 1998. That unusual boost dramatically enhanced the deal's return to Bush, an elected official. On a borrowed $606,000 investment that should have returned $2.5-million, Bush received $15-million. His transformation from business failure to success was complete, with help from family friends all along the way.

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/07/21/Worldandnation/Bush_built_success_on.shtml

Revenant said...

I don't think Webb has quickly picked up the Washington style. I think he's got the novelist's style, and he's his own hero Senator in a novel about Washington.

That's an interesting and amusing idea. I've known a number of actors and actresses who approached their lives as if they were stars in a movie *about* their life. I haven't witnessed the same behavior in writers, but then the writers I know write non-fiction.

The Bush-Webb encounter does play better as drama than it does as either normaly social interaction or political manuvering.

Christy said...

My first thought upon reading of the exchange was that, should it have been true, Webb's mother didn't raise her boy right. And I speak as a southern woman of Scots-Irish heritage with a family full of fighting men.

But back to Ann's pondering about the novelist as senator...

Tom Clancy's 3rd novel, Patriot Games, had Ryan dressing down The Prince of Wales and telling him to buck up and be a man, to protect his family. I cringed with shame as a fellow American when I read such a vulgar inappropriate scene. Why do I suspect that Webb read it and cheered?

Does Webb write the world as he wants it to be rather than as it is?

michilines said...

Althouse said: [D]ave is the protagonist of his own little book about the one man who knows the truth about how everyone in the world is mentally retarded.

For me, this post is just another chapter in Althouse's drama -- where she's almost always the "intellectual" but at times throws poo just like the average ape.

Althouse, help me remember -- what are some of your favorite terms for people with whom you disagree? One is idiot. Another is moron. Oh, and let us not forget the double-whammy disreputable slimeball. Ouch.

Perhaps the above is an idication of the weight I give to your "new material" in this post. It's entertaining, but fluffy.

reader_iam said...

So what's wrong with entertaining?

reader_iam said...

One of politics' saving graces (and sometimes there seems precious few) is its entertainment value.

Just to throw it out there: Don't all politicians play a role to one degree or another? Presentation, symbols, gestures, etc. strike me as part of the game. A lot of it is theatre, no?

Think about national (in particular) campaigns, for example: Don't they strike you as more roadshow than anything else?

Ernst Blofeld said...

Webb, as a novelist, wasn't really about precise use of language in the manner of Jane Austen, pace Will. Webb's writing was more of an evocative cri di coeur combined with barely contained fury and contempt. Some pedestrian carping about "literally" doesn't cut to the quick about Webb's weaknesses as a novelist or politician, and I think it was Will's aim to needle him by doing exactly that. So, viewing it artistically, Will failed as a critic.

The idea of Webb viewing himself being the protagonist in his own novel is preceptive. His main characters have often been him, or how he viewed himself as he would be in that plot. Quite often his protagonists wind up dying or failing heroically, so those who embrace him should be aware that you may be on a death ride to Valhalla.

Before the election there was discussion about whether his novels were fair game for judging him as a candidate. They are, obviously, but it's difficult to portray a nuanced argument about them in a thirty second TV spot that features grainy black and white visuals and ominous music. The Allen people had a go with the underage oral sex scene, but that just showed both their ham-handedness and the limitations of the approach.

As a novelist Webb has severe limitations. It's only within a very restricted range and context that his writing works, and that context doesn't include Washington DC. That doesn't bode well for the outcome of his ongoing Senate novel.

If you want a glimpse of his view of DC, and don't want to read anything, he was deeply involved in the movie "Rules of Engagement". Though, in a typically grand gesture, late in the game he insisted he not receive a screenplay credit because of differences over the script, and is only listed as "story by".

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0160797/

So far in our Washington drama we have Webb as a novelist working outside his metier, and critics that are not very good. This does not bode well.

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, "disreputable slimeball" isn't one of my favorite things to call people. I think I've only ever used it once. When I think of how much that phrase stirred people up... I'm quite amused.

Of course, Glenn Greenwald is a disreputable slimeball. He writes long posts attacking me that are full of distortions and lies. This justifies my attacking with words far nastier than "disreputable slimeball."

The other day I was trying to explain the incident to someone -- something I've done exactly once -- and when I got to the phrase "disreputable slimeball," I laughed a long time. It's like in that Marx Brothers movie when someone lets loose with the insult "upstart." It's funny because everyone gets upset as if it was some outrageous obscenity.

And I'm puzzled that I wrote "slimeball." I usually say "sleazeball."

By the way, one of the most important events in my life is very tied up with getting so angry at someone that I hurled the epithet "unscrupulous."

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, yeah. It's "Duck Soup." Ambassador Trentino calls Firefly an "upstart," and their countries go to war over it.

Charles Giacometti said...

Either "Althouse" or Ann Althouse wrote:

The other day I was trying to explain the incident to someone -- something I've done exactly once -- and when I got to the phrase "disreputable slimeball," I laughed a long time.

And at what point in your hysterical outburst did the other person conclude "Althouse" and Ann Althouse were both batshit crazy?

Charles Giacometti said...

Speaking of batshit crazy, the only people crazier than "Althouse" and Althouse are the people who imagine Bush would take Webb in a fight. Here, for your reading pleasure, is the commendation language from Webb's Navy Cross. But, hey, Bush sort of, not really, kind of landed that figheter jet on the aircraft carrier when he told us that the mission was accomplished.

michilines said...

Althouse said: Actually, "disreputable slimeball" isn't one of my favorite things to call people.

Intriguing, do tell(!)

When I think of how much that phrase stirred people up... I'm quite amused.

I thought that by classifying it as "poo" you might see the silliness of it. Alas, you count me among the "stirred up." *sigh*

Of course, Glenn Greenwald is a disreputable slimeball. He writes long posts attacking me that are full of distortions and lies. This justifies my attacking with words far nastier than "disreputable slimeball."

Sweetie, yes he writes long posts. By my count two of those were about you. Your sentence construction implies that he only writes long posts about you. Trust me, 99.9% of his posts are not about you. Clarity is golden. Given that two out of several hundred posts of Greenwalds were about you, it's ever so reasonable that you throw poo, no? I'd wager that Greenwald thinks you are the center of the universe, too -- based on the numbers.

Your response is perhaps Chapter Two in the Althouse drama -- soon to be a made for tv movie. This seems a good coda: By the way, one of the most important events in my life is very tied up with getting so angry at someone that I hurled the epithet "unscrupulous."

Anyone up for a bet on the next chapter?

Palladian said...

"I'd wager that Greenwald thinks you are the center of the universe, too -- based on the numbers."

At the center of Glenn Greenwald's universe is a black hole (just like the black hole that is speculated to be at the center of our galaxy). I'm just trying to figure out if that black hole is his asshole or his mouth. It's quite hard to differentiate them, don't you know.

Sweetie.

michilines said...

Wow, that's a smack down there pal :)

Could you try agian without the -ism, sweetie?

Ernst Blofeld said...

BTW, for those lefties cheering Webb's diss of Bush: remeber that Webb holds you in even lower regard.

Revenant said...

Your sentence construction implies that he only writes long posts about you.

Um, did you drop out of school in the third grade? The construction "X writes Y about Z" in no way implies that X *only* writes about Z, or that all Y written by X are about Z.

Similarly, the sentence "John Kerry gives speeches about George Bush that are condescending and insulting" does not imply (a) that Kerry only talks about Bush or (b) that everything Kerry says is condescending and/or insulting.

Go back to school, stay awake in English class this time, get your diploma, and try again.

Shanna said...

(b) that everything Kerry says is condescending and/or insulting.

Although b happens to be true anyway.

michilines said...

Hey revenant,

Let's have a look at this. Both you and Althouse are having trouble with adjective clauses. Your relative pronoun that immediately follows the noun Bush, while Althouse's r.p. follows the pronoun me. Neither of your relative pronouns refers to those (pro)nouns, but rather refers to a previous noun in each of your sentences (speeches and posts, respectively). This placement introduces ambiguity.

But hey, if you feel better about yourself because you put me in my place, well, bully for you!

The Machinist said...

Re: Preston Brooks caning the abolitionist Sumner in 1856:

1) Sen. Webb might be able to take Pres. Bush in a fight, with rod gun or club, but I would bet on his Secret Service guys, no question.

2) More importantly, can we please try to remember who, in 1856, had the right side of the argument?

veteran1 said...

As a grandpa with a son in Balad, Iraq, I have to side with Webb. I too, want no more of our sons and daughters to spill their blood over in a distant land for no good reason. He was looking at the man that started the fiasco and I can imagine the rancor he felt. Bush wanted his behind kissed and didn't get it. Go, Webb.