What’s the difference between a height-challenged Hollywood star showing up drunk on daytime television mocking the President of the United States and a newly elected sober Senator who goes to a private White House reception and snubs him in person?
Not much if you ask me. Although in the case of the newly elected member of Congress, you’d expect a greater degree of civility.
When Virginia’s newest Sen. Jim Webb was asked by President Bush, “How’s your boy doing?” (His son is a Marine in Iraq.)
According to the Washington Post, here’s how the exchange ended:
“I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” Webb responded.
“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.
The Post also noted that Webb refused to have his picture taken with President Bush and added:
“I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall. No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I'm certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. [But] leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is."
And if that were not enough, a source close to The Hill newspaper says Webb claimed he did everything to contain his urge to “slug” the commander-in-chief.
Now I don’t know about you, but that’s just down right rude. What message does it send to the American people who think they have just elected a new crop of leaders who will give us all a break from the partisan bickering that lead to an unproductive Congress?
There’s a time and place for everything. But playing politics with brave Marines whose lives are in constant danger – even when it’s your own son – is unacceptable.
Perhaps the president needs to work on his ability to shrug off sleights, but I think he was justified in standing for the respect of the office of the President when he pursued his intention of showing sympathy for a fellow colleague.
Maybe the White House staff should have given Sen. Webb a time out and a juice box to calm him down. Either way, Sen. Webb is going to quickly realize that the only person he embarrassed at that event was himself.
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