What to make of this exchange between the President...
November 30, 2006 09:43 AM
... and James Webb, the newly elected junior Senator from Virginia:
Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.
"How's your boy?" 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.
I think Webb was definitely being rude, and the President was just being brusque in the face of rudeness. It is perfectly okay--indeed, a kind gesture--to ask someone how their son is doing if they are serving in harm's way. Especially if the President is the one who is doing the asking. To give a political response in the context of this private conversation is rude. Especially when you follow up by saying that your son's welfare is not of the President's business.
Maybe the President's question hit a little too close to home, because the Senator's son doesn't actually want to come home, and thinks the work he is doing is important? Perhaps the Senator thought the President's question was too personal, because it pertained to a family dispute?
Who knows? I certainly have no idea if Senator Webb's son wants to come home. But a difference of opinion between father and son is the only explanation I can come up with to defend Senator Webb.