Saturday, December 02, 2006

George FWill: Pompous Poseur and a Liar

Was Jim Webb insolent? Mr. FWill would have you think so:
Already Too Busy for Civility

By George F. Will
Thursday, November 30, 2006; Page A23

That was certainly swift. Washington has a way of quickly acculturating people, especially those who are most susceptible to derangement by the derivative dignity of office. But Jim Webb, Democratic senator-elect from Virginia, has become a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator....

The Carpetbagger ("Reality-Based Commentary, Analysis, and Tirades on Politics in America") reports Greg Sargent found that that this was all in Mr. FWill's head:
And if Will were right about the Webb/Bush exchange, he might have a point. If all you read was Will’s column, you might think Bush was being civil.

Except Will left out the part of the exchange that didn’t suit his purposes. (Onymous Guy: emphasis mine) As the Post article Will cites but misquotes explained, after Webb said he wanted to bring his son home from Iraq, Bush actually said, “That’s not what I asked you.” It was this response that was at the heart of the confrontation, and Will managed to convey the exchange as if it hadn’t been said at all. For that matter, Webb used the words “Mr. President” twice during the chat with Bush, and Will managed to omit both references.

As Greg Sargent put it, “This is one of the rankest displays of journalistic dishonesty I’ve seen in some time…. [I]t’s quite clear his distortions were entirely deliberate.”

Greg Sargent analyzes the whole mess. Here is FWill's report of the exchange between Webb and Bush:
When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?"

Webb replied, "I'd like to get them [sic] out of Iraq."

When the president again asked "How's your boy?",

Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy."

And here is the WaPo report the day before:
"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.
Here is a little more of Greg Sargent:
See what happened? Will omitted the pissy retort from the President that provoked Webb. Will cut out the line from the President where he said: "That's not what I asked you." In Will's recounting, that instead became a sign of Bush's parental solicitiousness: "The president again asked `How's your boy?'"
Read Carpetbagger's whole scoop here and Greg Sargent's post here.

Postscript: hcc in va has this addendum in DailyKos
Well, tonight I attended a party honoring volunteers in the Hunter Mill District of Fairfax County, VA who had helped - in a very big way - to bring about Webb's upset victory and thus garner control of the Senate. I had the opportunity to chat with Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va 8th district) in private before he publicly addressed the group. I recounted how proud I was of Webb's actions in front of Bush, and recounted the speculation on whether Bush could possibly have known about the incident with Webb's son. He said, without hesitation:

"Not only did Bush know about it, he was specifically briefed on the incident before meeting with Webb, and was cautioned to be extra sensitive in speaking with Webb about his son."

Just to make sure, I said: "Wow, I guess not too many people know about this," and he said: "That's right they don't, but I know it's true, and there are lots of things people don't know about that would surprise them"

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