How can you fault a former Navy Secretary for "making waves?" Not every one can turn Washington's tidal basin into a tidal wave but George Will is no ordinary provocateur. He's exceptional. His column of Sunday, December 4th attacked senator-elect Jim Webb (D-Va.) for not wanting to shake President George Bush's hand. Imagine that!
Will also charges Webb is guilty of "careless and absurd assertions" for writing an article stating the wealth gap between rich and poor is "the least debated issue" in American politics. That's hot, coming from Mr. Will, the Great Asserter himself. Yes, when it comes to "absurd" assertions there's no one, I repeat, no one, who can get off a hot assertion like Mr. Will. Must we remind Mr. Will who it was that declared, shortly before the collapse of the Marxist Empire, "the sky will rain artichokes" before the Kremlin abandons communism? Anybody seen any artichokes coming down?
Say, if you wanted to go back in time over Mr. Will's columns and jot down all such bloopers, and I don't, you could fill a Victoria's Secret catalogue because the author stands virtually naked before the bar of history.
Actually, if only out of charity, one should not fault Mr. Will for not being able to predict the collapse of communism. That's too much to expect. It's that Will doesn't appear to have a firm grasp on present-day reality. Will calls Webb a "boor" and a "pompous poseur" (two phrases that might have popped into Will's mind while shaving in the mirror that morning) and asserts Webb has "patent disrespect for the presidency".
This, of course, is the precise opposite of what Webb told the Washington Post: "I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall. No offense to the institution of the presidency..."
What Webb rightly objects to is President Bush, not the presidency. George Bush is a president who lied the nation into making a criminal war of aggression in Iraq that is destroying that country, that has driven a million Iraqis to fly for the their lives, that has killed 600,000 more Iraqis and wounded perhaps another million, that has killed over 3,300 American soldiers and soldiers-of-fortune, that may cost our taxpayers about a trillion bucks and who has assaulted the civil liberties of the American people as no foreign foe has ever done and Will is mad at Webb for not wanting to shake the man's hand? Ye gods! What an idiot that man Webb must be!
Would Will have faulted Webb if, hypothetically, he lived in Germany in 1938 and refused to shake Hitler's hand? (Think the comparison is stretched? When Hitler had been in office six years he had only wiped out about 70,000 Poles, hardly equal to George Bush's butcher shop in Iraq. And if Bush ever nukes Iran, which some investigative reporters claim he is plotting, he might yet surpass Hitler's all-time WWII kill record.)
Another Webb offense, professor Will lectures, "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."
How touching! Here Commander-in-Chief George Bush has put Webb's soldier son in Iraq in harm's way for absolutely no good reason and Will scolds Webb for scorning Bush's "concern." I'm surprised when Bush approached Webb the Virginian didn't puke.
One recalls the charming photographs of young German girls in their peasant costumes shyly approaching a beaming Adolph Hitler with handfuls of flowers. Yes, Hitler, the caring father of the German state, how he must have smiled at the parents of those girls. His solicitousness for his people was touching, too, so he plunged them into a war in which millions of young men died for nothing, just as Americans are dying for nothing in Iraq. Probably, from the safety of his deep underground bunker in Berlin, Hitler wept for the fate of 800,000 civilians being massacred by the British and American air armadas.
Yes, how dare Jim Webb be rude to George Bush?! Even though the outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations says Bush's war in Iraq is "illegal" and the Iraqis were better off under tyrant Hussein than tyrant Bush, and even though international legal scholars have made an excellent case for trying Bush & Cheney for war crimes, how dare Jim Webb not want to shake hands with the man? And when Bush inquired of Webb how his "boy" was, Webb was within his rights to reply, "that's between me and my boy."
(Note: the pro-war faction, headed by Mr. Bush, likes to urge the public to "support our boys" in Iraq, as if they are Boy Scouts attending some summer camp festival, not trained, adult, soldiers.)
Will goes on to lecture Webb, "In a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves." That's an historic revision right out of 1984! Makes you wonder how such grandiose, full-of-themselves blowhards as Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon ever got to a position of power where they could blast the hell out of two or three million people in Viet Nam, not one of whom ever attacked the United States of America. Oh, and notice the word "republic" which Professor Will says USA is today, instead of tyranny, which is what USA has become under Mr. Bush. Once again, George Will is out of touch with the times.
Among Webb's other faults, according to Will, is that Webb is "going out of his way to make waves." Well, what else would one expect of a former Secretary of the Navy? For my part, I hope when Jim Webb gets to the Senate he stirs up a typhoon.