Thursday, November 30, 2006

Civility vs. Taking A Stand

George Will takes a bite out of incoming Senator-elect James Webb (D-VA) on his recent and very tense brush with President Bush:

Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb's more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being -- one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another.

Not certain if one could characterize Webb's snubbing of the President as uncivil or "patent[ly] disrespectful." After all, this is a democracy, and - last we checked - one could disagree with the Commander-in-Chief's policies. It's not like Webb spit on him, or carried a picket sign into the White House, or clocked him with a fist. In this instance, he merely expressed his extreme displeasure with the Administration's pointless foray in Iraq, thereby relaying the mood of many Virginians who elected him. At the end of the day, Webb - like the President - must answer to voters ...

We find Webb's "truculence" in this instance a bit refreshing. Maybe that's what the President needs, constant and unsettling reminders of his dismal performance as a world leader in settings that aren't engineered for his comfort. If our child was deployed to a war with no meaning or coherent cause, a war based on deception and ideological Washington can get a bit too "civil" for its own good in that too many elected officials are unwilling to take principled stands out of fear for "rocking the boat" or insulting good "friends" and "colleagues." Upon a few elegant lunches and a routinely disgusting display of platitude, politicians soon forget they are beholden to the interests of the people. True: civility should always be maintained in the public discourse. We don't see enough of it, these days. But, not at the expense of taking a stand or making an important point. This Administration should be the last to feel insulted or express outrage at Webb's conduct after it has spent its entire course destroying checks-and-balances and arrogantly pressing forward with little regard for fundamental precepts in the Constitution. That, Mr. Will, is the true "boor."