Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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James Webb

This WaPo article on James Webb is worth reading. It gives a pretty good account of his style, even character. It won’t be easy, either for Bush, or Webb’s fellow Democrats, but it will be fun to watch.

Discussions - 18 Comments

More interesting is what the article doesn’t cover. Like why, for instance, the Naval Academy graduate’s son is an enlisted man in the Marines? Why he didn’t go to a military academy like his father, and why he enlisted to fight in a campaign his father doesn’t agree with.

Webb is a kook. A flat out kook. Go back and check out his testimony to Congress prior to Desert Storm, the guy was absolutely unhinged, and his military projections were way beyond the parameters of sanity. The campaign that Allen ran to lose to this unhinged kook is simply mind boggling.

It is obvious that Webb didn’t pay any attention to any courses--real or imagined--at the Naval Academy on good manners and rudeness and what it takes to be a proper Naval/Marine officer and a gentleman. But in Webb’s case he has a document issued by the Congress of the United States, carrying the force of law, that states he is an Officer and gentleman. Also, by virtue of his election to Senator, he can assume the title of "Honorable,’ which is how he will be termed---"The Honorable Senator from the State of Virginia." Without these, Webb is nothing more than a vulgarlout.

On what grounds is Webb not a "gentleman?" I would suggest that his shameless lifetime membership in the liberal NAACP is a blot on his character, but I suspect that is not what you had in mind.

I don’t necessarily give him a free pass on some of the stuff he wrote either just because it is fiction. The author has a responsibility to edify the reader and not just titillate. I haven’t read the books so I don’t know the context.

But his Scots-Irish book is excellent and his speech at the Confederate Veterans Memorial is largely right on point.

Webb is probably more intelligent than most senators, and he presumably knows much more about the military. Forty years ago, he served our nation with courage. Fine. But he’s still a punk, or as Morgan said, a "vulgar lout." It will be interesting to see whether he’s an "equal opportunity pisser," or whether he directs his anger only at Republicans. The fact that he’s aligned himself with a party so blatantly at odds with his professed values is not encouraging.

Everything you need to know about Webb can be found in a review of his activities and comments prior to the first Gulf war. Anyone considering defending Webb should at the least familiarize himself with his activities as Sec of the Navy, and especially his weird comments prior to the first Gulf war.

"Vulgar lout" captures the essence well, I would only add "vulgar, EGOMANICAL lout." But nonetheless, bravo Morgan!

How about a link Dan? Don’t make me chase it down.

Sorry Red, I would provide a link if I could. I’m simply going from memory. I recall that of all the notables that testified against the proposed military action to drive Saddam out of Kuwait, none so outraged me as Webb. And that’s saying something. It was the foreign policy equivalent to the outrage that was the Bork hearings.

I’m still stunned that the Allen campaign never availed themselves of Webb’s testimony back then. The guy went off, making one sweeping statement after another. And then when challenged, he offered the chickenhawk defense. It was really him who led the way denouncing men "who hadn’t worn the uniform" for suggesting military action.

Besides being whacked, the guy is truly an egomaniac. Allen was an amazingly popular Governor and Senator, and he allowed himself to get dragged down by the Washington Post, and as Morgan aptly branded him, get dragged down by a "vulgar lout."

As clear a case of truth being stranger than fiction as one is apt to find.

We really ought to get Steve Hayward to offer some comments on Webb. He’s the one reviewing that period of history, what with the research for his second volume of the Reagan biography.

RED, this doesn’t mean that Webb can’t occasionally offer a sane comment, or doesn’t enjoy, albeit infrequently, occasional moments of lucidity and eloquence. It’s just that when his ego becomes engaged, he’s apt to become unhinged, and when he unravels, it’s a particularly grotesque spectacle. As we saw, when the President refused to stand still and take an implicit rebuke.

I suspect that Webb made his weird comment in a particularly offensive manner, and Bush responded with a certain steel in his eye, a Midland glint. AND IT WAS THAT, that hint of physical presence which particularly nettled Webb, and has led to him dwelling on it to such an extent that he later said that it was he who wanted to punch out the President. I don’t think the President allowed that comment to go unpassed with demonstrating some of the inner steel of George Walker Bush. Recall, Webb has been out there offering the weird statements of chickenhawk crap, and has been indulging attitudes that Bush is a coward, a weakling, a bungler, well, you know the spiel. And for Bush to demonstrate a little glint in the eye to Webb, and TO DO IT RIGHT IN HIS FACE, mano a mano, was ALTOGETHER too much for that egomaniac to handle.

I haven’t any doubt that for weeks to come, Webb is still going to be privately seething about that briefest of glimpses he got into the soul of the President, who didn’t refused to stand still for the heckling of a creep and a kook.

My previous post needed to be edited, but I’m sure you guys all got the gist.

Somebody opined thus: "...Webb is nothing more than a vulgarlout."

I can hardly wait for "five deferments" Cheney to tell Webb to "go f**k himself."

Dan, re: comment # 6: your additions are most worthy. By the way, I. like Webb, served in the Marine Corps and I enjoyed his books but he still is an egomanicical vulgar lout. Oh, and by the way, he also has a law degree so he has intellectual tools but it seems they aren’t tempered by his emotions.

Boy, Webb sure is a vulgarlout and an unhinged kook! He’s vulgar, and loutish, and unhinged, and kooky! He’s an unhingedkookvulgarlout. Wow. We sure don’t like the way he told the President to stuff it. He’s a tell-the-President-to-stuff-it vulgarlout,and he is an unhinged kook, to boot.

He sure is stupid, because he didn’t keep himself and his son out of harm’s way, the way Bush and Cheney did! He’s an actual patriot, and the parent of an actual patriot. He’s an actualparentpatriot, stupidunhingedkook.

Fung, are you suggesting that what Webb did was classy? Is that what you would do in a similar social situation? Would you recommend Webb’s bizarre behavior as a model for the younger people of America? Can you come up with anything that possibly EXCUSES such behavior?

And lastly, if that isn’t kooky and weird behavior, then what the hell is?

And Red, if Webb wasn’t an educated, wasn’t a WELL-educated man, his behavior to the President would have still have been appalling. It’s the fact that he is an Annapolis graduate, was a former decorated marine, {and those decorations carry with them the obligation to conduct yourself in a dignified way for the rest of your life....} was selected by the Reagan administration to be Secretary of the Navy, and has been well-received as an author, all of that INCREASED his obligation to conduct himself publicly in a dignified manner. Instead, Webb’s ego has soared to such an extent that he thinks that he has a mandate to dress down the President to his face. Any man who thinks that its his obligation to say such things to the President in a social situation, {if Webb were in a meeting with the President about foreign policy, or about Iraq, or about troop levels, I would expect Webb to be far more forthcoming in his criticism of the current policies}, and any man who thinks that the President is just supposed to stand there like some whipped dog, with his tail between his leg, while the mighty, far-seeing and majestic Webb dresses him down, AND DOES SO PUBLICLY, with others present and observing, is well, the person I long ago concluded him to be, despite all of Fung’s satire and derision, he’s a creep and a kook.

And I haven’t any doubt that Webb would have bragged later about how he dressed down the President to his face, and did so in front of other people. Webb tried to cause a scene, and the thing that truly bothers him is that Bush didn’t stand still for it, didn’t look defensive, didn’t look dejected, demoralized or depressed, he didn’t act like the caricature that Webb and others have conjured of him. IT’S that which is driving Webb privately insane with rage right now. Even his response is weird: "That’s between me and my boy."

Only Fung could find actions worth the while to defend.

Dan, maybe you are making assumptions because I opposed the First Gulf War also on non-interventionist, paleoconservative grounds. Defending Kuwait is not part of the Constitutional duties of the American government. The American government is supposed to defend America. The defense of Kuwait is the responsibility of ... well Kuwait and Kuwait only.

I also think there is some merit in the criticism that men who have not served (not entirely the case with Bush, but certainly with Cheney) should not be too gung-ho to send other people to war. Now of course some of that is a natural part of our system of civilian control of the military, but the advice of military men who have been there is essential. I do not think it is a coincidence that ex-military men are often the least hawkish, i.e. Colin Powell, because they understand that war is not some romantic endeavor but is a horrible affair for all involved.

But making decisions about war is a natural function of the President who is elected by the people, but a declaration of war is required by the Constitution not some amorphous authorization of force. So I don’t begrudge Bush making decisions about war, but I do begrudge a bunch of starry-eyed policy wonks babbling about "ridding the world of evil" or enlightening the "gaps" at the point of a gun, but who have never served and have no family that will be sent into harm’s way, beating the drums for war in the service of their Utopian schemes. Damn right I do.

Any yes I have served in the military.

My understanding of the interaction was that Bush asked him how his son was. Webb replied I wish he wasn’t there. Bush replied that is not what I asked. Both are at fault. Who knows if Bush was sincere, but it should be assumed he was unless there is some reason to believe otherwise. Webb therefore should have answered him with a simple "he is fine." When he did not, his bad, but Bush should have politely accepted his answer and moved on. He did not. His bad. (This is my assessment based on what I perceive to be the normal rules of Southern etiquette.) Both men are proud. Both men surely have an ego. A lot of emotions were involved. Excessive emotions make for bad manners. I’m sure Webb has little toleration for Bush because he holds him in contempt. Based on what I said about the policy wonks.

Webb is a Southerner and a Scots-Irish. As his book implied and history shows, such folks are more incline to highly value honor and to come to blows over perceived breaches of honor. If you attribute Bush’s response to some good ol’ Texas values he picked up in Midland then you are giving him more credit than I believe he deserves. I wish he was more of an intuitive Southerner/Texan. I think part of the reason he is such a moderate squish on conservative issues is because he is really the privileged son of a Blue-Blooded Connecticut Yankee.

Dan- If my son was fighting a war that served only the interests of Big Oil and companies like Haliburton, and if the President had a record of stealing the true patriotism of good, honest soldiers for his own political purposes, and if I suspected him of acting caring and patriotic for the cameras, when I knew that he didn’t give a rat’s behind about my son, or the thousands of others that he has sacrificed in Iraq, then I would like to think that I would have the nerve that Jim Webb did, and tell Bush to mind his own friggin’ business.

As for an example for young people? Washington DC is not the place I would look. Certainly not in the White House, with Bush’s war record, or Cheney’s war record, or the incident referred to in Comment 11 by Tom Paine, or Bush’s avoidance of Cindy Sheehan. Nor would I want my sons to gather around and tsk-tsk about ungentlemanly behavior, while swooning about a "Midland glint" like some kind of adolescent, Harlequin-reading schoolgirl. Midland glint! Get a life!

I would suggest that a more polite answer for the President to have offered was "yes, of course, we all do." Of course, you’d have to see the actual exchange because tone of voice means a lot in conversations like this.

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