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The New Crime Of Refusing To Shake GW Bush’s Hand

George Will Finds New Crime Category: Refusing To Shake George Bush’s Hand

By Sherwood Ross

Columnist George Will has found senator-elect Jim Webb (D-Va.) guilty of “careless and absurd assertions,” for writing the wealth gap between rich and poor is “the least debated issue” in American politics. But if you think, (and I don’t) what Webb said is absurd, how about the assertion the sky will “rain artichokes” before the Soviets give up communism? And what brilliant clairvoyant do you think opined that statement just before the Rooskies junked communism?

Actually, if only out of charity, one shouldn’t fault Mr. Will for not being able to predict the future. That’s too much to expect of him. Trouble is Will doesn’t appear to have a good grasp of the present. In his column of Sunday, December 3, he scorns Webb for not wanting to shake President Bush’s hand. Will calls Webb a “boor” and a “pompous poseur” (two phrases that might have popped into Will’s mind while shaving in the mirror that morning) and says Webb has “patent disrespect for the presidency”. This, of course, is just the opposite of what Webb actually told the Washington Post: “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…”

What Webb rightly objects to is President Bush, not the presidency. Here’s a president who has made a criminal war of aggression in Iraq that is destroying that country, that has driven a million Iraqis to fly for the their lives, that has killed perhaps 600,000 more Iraqis and wounded perhaps a million or more, that has killed over 3,300 American soldiers and soldier-of-fortune fighters, that is costing the American taxpayers about a trillion bucks; here’s a president that lied the nation into war in the first place and who has assaulted the civil liberties of the American people as no foreign foe has ever done and Will is mad at Webb for not shaking his hand? Ye gods! What an idiot that man Webb must be!

Would Will have faulted Webb if, hypothetically, he lived in Germany in 1938 and refused to shake Hitler’s hand? (Think the comparison is stretched? When Hitler had been in office six years he had only killed about 70,000 Poles, hardly equal to George Bush’s record for slaughter to date. And if Bush gets around to nuking Iran, which some investigative reporters think he is plotting, he might yet surpass Hitler.)

Will goes on to claim Webb showed “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.”

How touching! Here Commander-in-Chief George Bush has got Webb’s son in Iraq in harm’s way for absolutely no good reason, and Webb is faulted for seeing through Bush's phony compassion?

One recalls the charming photographs of small German girls in their peasant costumes shyly approaching a beaming Adolph Hitler with handfuls of flowers. Yes, Hitler, the caring father of the German state, so caring he plunged it into a war in which millions of Germany’s young men died for nothing in Europe and Africa, just as Americans are dying for nothing in Iraq. To be sure, Hitler was “civil and caring” when he spoke to the parents of those children. Probably, from the safety of his deep underground bunker in Berlin, Hitler also cared for the 800,000 German civilians whom he allowed to be massacred by the British and American air armadas when he could have surrendered.

Yes, how dare Jim Webb be rude to George Bush? Even though the outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations says Bush’s war in Iraq is “illegal” and Iraqis were better off under tyrant Hussein than tyrant Bush, and international legal scholars have made an excellent case for trying Bush & Cheney for war crimes, how dare Jim Webb not want to shake hands with the man? Worst offense of all, when Bush inquired of Webb how his “boy” was, Webb rightly replied, “that’s between me and my boy.”

(Note: the pro-war faction, headed by Mr. Bush, likes to urge the public to “support our boys” in Iraq, as if they are Boy Scouts attending some summer camp festivity rather than paid-for, trained professionals who volunteered for military service.)

Will has the gall to lecture Webb, “In a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves.” That’s news! Makes you wonder how grandiose Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon ever got to a position of power where they could blow two or three million Vietnamese to hell, not one of whom, by the way, ever attacked the United States of America. If those presidents weren’t full of themselves, what were they full of?

Among Webb’s other faults, according to Will, is that Webb is “going out of his way to make waves.” Well, what else would one expect of a former Secretary of the Navy? For my part, I hope Jim Webb stirs up a typhoon.


(Sherwood Ross is a Charlottesville, Va.-based writer who voted for Jim Webb.)

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