Emmett Tyrrell
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As I say, Kerry is an unpleasant fellow in a party increasingly led by unpleasant fellows and fellowesses. Consider incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who blustered to Time magazine not long ago, "Anybody who's ever dealt with me knows not to mess with me." Again, is this someone you would care to dine with or even pass in a hallway?

As it happens I did dine with Webb, sometime after his brief stint at the Department of the Navy. He is a pretty good novelist and in print at the time had expressed some ideas of which I approved, particularly his scruples against women in combat, though other of his references to women strike me as coarse. At any rate, I invited him to dinner for what turned out to be a gruesome evening. Webb is one of those people of whom it is said he is uncomfortable in his skin. At first I thought his discomfort might come from the fear he was going to have to pay his way. It was a classy eatery. I reassured him that he was my guest. I went on to make clear I considered him a fine writer. Nothing I said reassured him, not even my insistence that he have dessert. I left baffled. Most of the military men I have known are gents. Many writers are cads, but I thought a writer who had also served high up in the Reagan administration might be civilized. After that dinner I never made the mistake of inviting him anywhere again.

His campaign was a prolonged demonstration of his caddishness. He who had called President Bill Clinton's administration the most corrupt in modern history invited Clinton to campaign with him. He actually exploited his own son's present service in Iraq for political advancement. While campaigning he paraded around in his son's combat boots! There were others in the 2006 election with sons in Iraq. One is a leading opponent of the war. None put a son in such an embarrassing and potentially dangerous position. Once elected, Webb took his boorishness to the White House.

Invited there with other freshmen members of Congress, Webb refused to stand in the presidential receiving line. He would not have his picture taken with the president. "How's your boy?" the Washington Post reports the president asking him later during the reception. Webb replied that he would like to get the troops home, a point appropriate for the campaign trail but not at a White House social event. "That's not what I asked," the president persisted, "How's your boy?" "That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," the unpleasant Webb replied, and he cut his host. This the Post portrayed as part of Webb's "unpolished style." "I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall," he told a reporter. Well, then a gentleman does not accept the president's invitation to the White House and no one told him he would have to display the picture anywhere.

According to The Hill, Webb even told a source for the paper that "he was so angered by this (encounter) that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief." Webb claims that one of his heroes is President Andrew Jackson. I too admire Old Hickory, but I at least recognize the rough ways of the early 19th century are not to be reprised in the 21st century. What next, will the junior senator from Virginia begin challenging those who arouse him to a duel? What century does Webb think he is living in? Believe me Sen. Webb is going to be a vast source of amusement, and he will fit in nicely with the unpleasant pols whose political base is the Angry Left.

I have said it before and I shall be saying it again, often politics is not a rational act. Increasingly, especially in the Democratic Party, it encourages behavior that is abnormal: politicians windsurfing to assure their constituencies that they are just like them or ranting to show how genuinely human they are. These pols play on the fantasies of mildly delusional voters. In the case of the unpleasant Webb, the delusions are a bit over the top. It makes me wonder why his stay at the Department of the Navy was so brief. Did the Reaganites shove him out? Did one of them make the mistake of taking him to dinner? Or did they catch him acting up at a White House reception that has gone unreported? Some reporters should have looked into this.

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Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
 
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