Webb attended a White House reception for new congressmen. He opted not to pass through a reception line, nor to be photographed with President Bush. Hey, I go to social functions and don't always visit with folks I'm uncomfortable with.
Were one of my boys in Iraq, fighting a war solely of Bush's creation with no end in sight, and being exacerbated in great part by his near-pathological inability to admitting mistakes, believe me, a response about wanting to get my son out of Iraq, when asked how he was, might be kinder words than I could muster.
Bush's patent snottiness instantly surfaced with his retort, "That's not what I asked you...I asked you how is your boy?" My thoughts might have run along the lines of; "You arrogant, patrician, phony, faux cowboy s.o.b.!" I may have found myself being dragged out by the Marines, a tribe of which I belonged to over forty years ago.
George Will was apoplectic, with Cohen not far behind. Will called Webb a boor, calculating, rude, truculent, careless, absurd, and cavalier, all in one column. One derogatory noun and six adjectives, in just one column? Wow!
While not as incensed as Will, Cohen used the terms "bad mannered," "consummately rude," and "pugnacious," in describing Webb. I'd have called Webb remarkably restrained.
Does anybody recall this president calling Kim Jong Il, the North Korean dictator and head of state, a "pygmy," in front of a group of shocked U.S. Senators? Now that is rude!
It's also damned unproductive, from a diplomatic standpoint.
Anyone remember Bush's total snub of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at a NATO meeting back in 2002? He walked right past him in a packed room, pretending he didn't see him. My dear mother cut the picture out of the St. Paul Dispatch and sent it to me, having penned the words "rude, or just stupid?" under it. How does that compare with Webb finally responding to Bush's bullish insistence with, "That's between me and my boy, Mr. President."
Who is being rude here? Is it the man living in a protective bubble of fantasy, or a man fearing that awful call that he lost his son, and that he lost him solely because the boy in the bubble couldn't admit he was wrong...grievously...totally wrong?
This at a time when Bush's daughters are on a booze-littered "swing" through South America! My good god...how does he even have the stomach to confront Webb, let alone speak to him?
Right now we are still losing American kids, every day in Iraq. We'll be at 3,000 too soon, with tens of thousands horribly injured and disfigured. These are our nation's youth. These are the ordinary kids. Not the privileged ones. Most of them aren't going to get a 25th birthday party trip through South America. They are in serious trouble in a country they need not be in.
Are we "staying the course" because this president is uncomfortable admitting that he and his minions were wrong...grievously and profoundly wrong? How is that not impolite?
A recent poll as to which world leaders represent the greatest threat to world peace, conducted in Great Britain, Israel, Canada and Mexico, shows our president listed (at 75%), considerably behind Osama bin Laden (87%), but ahead of Kim Jong Il (69%).That, my friends, is breathtaking.
In Britain, our only (and rapidly disappearing) ally in the Iraqi war of occupation, fully 69% feel U.S. policy has made the world less safe since 2001. Canada weighs in with 62%, followed by Mexico at 57%.
Back in the fall of 2002, a young man named Barack Obama, less well-known than he is today, had this to say:
"I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is...the cynical attempt by armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs of lives lost and in hardships borne."
Most folks don't consider Obama to be rude. I don't believe they see Webb in that light, either.
Maybe I'll just mail some Maalox to Will and Cohen.