I always love it when people in Washington attack people for bad manners. According to George Will, newly-elected Virginia Senator James Webb was guilty of bad manners when he was asked by President Bush how his Marine son was doing in Iraq, and responded instead by saying that he hoped the troops would be home soon.
"That's not what I asked you," said Bush. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy," Webb replied.
Will writes: "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."
This is truly Washington, in case you wonder what Washington truly is. Washington is a place where politics is just something you do all day. You lie, you send kids to war, you give them inadequate equipment, they're wounded and permanently maimed, they die, whatever. Then night falls, and you actually think you get to pretend that none of it matters. "How's your boy?" That, according to George Will, is a civil and caring question, one parent to another? It seems to me that it's exactly the sort of guy talk that passes for conversation in Bushworld, just one-up from the frat-boy banter that is usually so seductive to Bush's guests. George Bush once said to someone I know, "How old is that seersucker suit anyway?" and my friend (who should know better) went for it lock stock and barrel.
So finally someone said to George Bush, Don't think that what you stand for is beside the point. Don't think that because you're President you're entitled to my good opinion. Don't think that asking about my boy means that I believe for even one second that you care. If you did, you'd be doing something about bringing the troops home.
George Will thinks this is bad manners.
I think it's too bad it doesn't happen more often.