Vietnam War students and everyone else who likes drama should at least watch the rebuttal to President Bush's State of the Union speech Tuesday night. The Democrats are putting up their new senator from Virginia, Jim Webb, over a lot of seasoned veterans and announced Presidential candidates. As you might imagine, there's a history here.
First, Jim Webb and President Bush had a little set-to in the White House at a party in December. Jim Webb has a son serving in the Marines in Iraq, and Bush asked him, "how's your boy doing?" Webb didn't answer directly--he told the President in no uncertain terms that his son and the others ought to be coming home. Bush retorted that this wasn't the question he had asked, he had just asked after Webb's boy. Both parties tried to make hay out of the incident, the Dems pointing to the President's nastiness and the Repubs to Webb's penchant for confrontation and rudeness. So it's going to be interesting who gets the last word, or laugh, or punch, on Tuesday. If I'm not mistaken, Webb was a boxer at the Naval Academy.
Webb has a most interesting background. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran who routinely excoriated those who did not serve, like President Clinton, and the most prominent dissenters, like Jane Fonda. He once famously said he would not cross the street to watch Fonda slit her throat. He also opposed the design of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, couching his opposition in nasty, very personal terms. He vehemently condemned the idea of women in combat, ruffling a lot of feathers in DC, where they had already decided to admit women to the service academies. BUT, he wrote probably the finest work of fiction to emerge from the Vietnam War--Fields of Fire--and he opposed the Iraq war largely based on what he perceives as political and military bungling in the Vietnam War. In other words, he learned from his experiences and drew some different conclusions. There's another source of tension between him and President Bush--the decorated Vietnam veteran vs. the weekend warrior, the student of war vs. the stubborn stayer-of-course.
I'm going to be perched in front of the TV, maybe with popcorn in hand even, waiting to see the Tuesday night smackdown. I'm betting Webb "brings it on" to the viewers and the court of public opinion.