December 1, 2006


Dinner With Jim Webb (R. EMMETT TYRRELL JR., December 1, 2006, NY Sun)

When Ronald Reagan's secretary of the Navy, James Webb, eked out victory against Senator Allen in Virginia, what did the Democrats gain? To be sure, they gained control of the Senate. That has been widely noted. Less widely noted is the fact that they gained something infinitely more subtle, but delightfully more amusing as will become apparent in the months ahead.

In Mr. Webb they gained yet another very unpleasant person as a conspicuous member of the party hierarchy. He will not be easily obscured. Mr. Webb now takes his place with Hillary Clinton, Dr. Howard Dean, Al Gore, Jean-Francois Kerry, and so many other Democratic notables as a rebarbative blowhard with whom you would not want to share a gondola. Nor would a civilized American want to have any of these churlish cads to dinner or even as neighbors down the block. [...]

As it happens, I did dine with Mr. 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 some 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.

Mr. 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 Clinton's administration the most corrupt in modern history invited Mr. 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, Mr. Webb took his boorishness to the White House.

The less sense of humor they have the funnier they are.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 1, 2006 9:47 AM

Whatever else one thinks of Tyrrell it's great to see someone refer to another as a cad, and distinguish between the civilized and the uncivilized.

One gets the sense that this Webb knucklehead has gone through life with a WWAJD* on his car. What a role model.

*What Would Andrew Jackson do.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 1, 2006 10:06 AM


Posted by: Mike Beversluis at December 1, 2006 10:22 AM

WWOJD used to be a very amusing part of this website. You'd write in with your problems and OJ would tell you the conservative (well, OJ-style conservative, which is to say, liberal) way to solve them.
That's where that whole creepy prison bitch list first went public, if my memory serves.

Posted by: Bryan at December 1, 2006 11:39 AM

As I said the other day, Webb has no class.

Posted by: Mike Morley at December 1, 2006 12:26 PM

Like I said the other day, Webb has no class.

Posted by: Mike Morley at December 1, 2006 12:39 PM

James Webb has no sense of humor? His reaction to Tyrell probably had something to do with the fact that a dinner conversation with Tyrell would go something like this:

So then I said to Muffy, "no one does the Riviera any more." And Muffy was quite horrified, you know. So then we just ended up doing Capri, and you know, the Italians are so charming with their little peasant ways, aren't they? But I digress. Anyway, I ordered the calamari. That's squid, but calamari sounds so much better, doesn't it? You're probably not familiar with exotic cuisines, but anyway ... They have SUCH a way with it, not over cooked, you know, but with just a HINT of garlic and the BEST olive oil ... I say, Jim, are you okay? I said I'd pick this up, you understand. No need to worry about that, my friend. Where was I? Anyway, so Muffy said she doesn't LIKE calamari. Jim? My goodness, are you always so quiet? Feel free to jump in anytime.

Posted by: zola at December 2, 2006 2:02 AM

Zola: well done!

Posted by: Palmcroft at December 2, 2006 9:17 AM

So, I suppose Webb would have reacted the same way if he had dinner with Frank Rich or Maureen Dowd?

Posted by: ratbert at December 3, 2006 12:26 AM