Bravo, George Will! On Monday the following conversation took place at a White House reception for freshman senators, a purely social event where courtesy usually transcends partisan differences, and all the new senators gladly line up to get their pictures taken with whoever is president. All the new senators, that is, except James Webb, the Republican-turned-novelist-turned-Democrat-turned-new senator-for-Virginia who decided to turn the event into a James Webb Grandstanding Fest. Here’s what happened, according to the Washington Post:
“How’s your boy?” [President] 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 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 worse, Will notes, Webb’s vaunted writing skills have deteriorated substantially since he became a full-of-himself politician. Here’s a quotation from a recent opinion article by Webb for the Wall Street Journal:
“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.”
Dear Inky readers, how many errors of grammar and/or fact can you spot in this paragraph? We can start, as Will does, by asking whether America’s top tier “literally” lives in a different country.