Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Webb Flap
Here we go again.

Digby takes on "Democratic strategists" Rich Masters (who's he?) on his agreement with right-wing cable news nutjobs that Jim Webb was rude and boorish with President Bush the other day.

I won't go into all of what Digby is saying, you can read it for yourself. But I do want to highlight a portion of what Digby says about George Will. George Will is a part of the Washington punditry that (like St. John McCain) occasionally tries to arrogantly parent all the nasty, ill-mannered politicos in Washington (particularly those with a "D" after their name). But take a look at what he did with the Webb flap.

First. Here's what Will wrote in his column:
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."

[Will says the episode demonstrates Webb's] "calculated rudeness toward another human being" -- i.e., the President -- who "asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another."
Kinda sounds like Webb was being a bit snippy, disregarding a fellow parent's caring (who's daughters Jenna and Not Jenna were busy getting drunk and disorderly in South America) and the President of the United States eh? After all, this is George Will, nationally known and respected political observer of Washington, right?

Here's what actually happened between Bush and Webb (from the WaPo article quoted by Will in his column):
At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. 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.
So. Webb tried to avoid Bush. Webb is not the kind of guy to take a bunch of shit off someone so he knew it would be better to let sleeping dogs lie. But Bush sought him out. And then when Webb wasn't taking any crap, Bush lashed out in that tight lipped, fratboy, smartass, pushy style of his to try and intimidate the guy.

Bush is an idiot. But the fact that Will would willfully (pun intended) distort this encounter shows just how far he'll go to make his point. Then, as a "respected columnists", his comments get picked up on the cable teevee and we're off to the races. Pretty soon the "centrists" of the Democratic party are eating at Webb too. Before long, the Will version of the story will be "the" story, much like the "Clinton haircut that held up air traffic", "soldiers being spit on when they came home from Vietnam", and "Dems preventing other Dems from speaking at the Democratic convention because they are pro-life" (in case you didn't know, those are all untrue).

Until the blogosphere, I used to swallow much of this nonsense simply because there was no other information. Thank god there are alternative media outlets and the truth is more readily available. The old wise men/women of Washington are now obsolete and should be ignored.

Want another example? Take a look at Josh Marshall quoting Mort Kondrake, another wiseman of Washington, who says we're failing in Iraq because American's don't have the guts to finish the job. Not that Bush screwed up, or that perhaps the Iraqis might have something to say about the outcome in Iraq, but that American's bit off more than they could chew. The arrogance of these assholes is astounding.