date: Nov 30, 2006 12:12 PM
subject: Webb's "Offense"
Dear Mr. Will,
In today's Washington Post you call Jim Webb "a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language" and "a boor" whose recent exchange with George W. Bush displays "patent disrespect for the presidency" and "calculated rudeness toward another human being."
Let's put insults and slander aside for a moment, Mr. Language Cop. First of all, it's this president's ill-conceived and ill-executed policies that have put the life of Webb's son at risk -- hell, they're what made Webb run for office and get elected in the first place! Webb has every right to refuse Bush's insistent, badgering attempt at rapprochement -- "'That's not what I asked you,' Bush said. 'How's your boy?'" -- which showed all the stubborn narrow-mindedness of his Middle East policy, and all the clumbsy, oafish insensitivity of that trip to Europe this past July, where he chewed the Syrian fat open-mouthed with Tony Blair, couldn't curb his singular obsession with a barbequed pig, made Angela Merkel wince in pain at a shoulder "massage," and got rebuffed by Vladimir Putin. By any reasonable estimate, it's Bush who continues limping along as the rude and disrespectful Boor-in-Chief.
As to Webb's Wall Street Journal article from earlier in the month, he's absolutely correct that class issues have all but disappeared from the national dialogue, paradoxically while income disparities have increased. With the modifiers he choses and that you make the target of your withering critique, like "infinitely" and "literally," Webb merely is engaging in a bit of a familiar literary device: hyperbole. Surely you've been guilty of as much in your own writings?
When -- if ever -- you grow weary of admiring your ongoing grandeur as a "conservative" who carefully critiques the "symbolic things" moderate politicians do to convey messages, you might consider this: in a republic, people decline to be led by pundits who are insufferably full of themselves.