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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 30, 2006 / 9 Kislev, 5767

Webb conveys the message of a boor

By George Will


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | THAT WAS certainly swift. Washington has a way of quickly acculturating people, especially those who are most susceptible to derangement by the derivative dignity of office. But Jim Webb, Democratic senator-elect from Virginia, has become a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator.


Wednesday's Washington Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the President. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them (sic) out of Iraq." When the President again asked, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy." Webb told the 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, and I'm certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. (But) leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is."


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. When — if ever — Webb grows weary of admiring his new grandeur as a "leader" who carefully calibrates the "symbolic things" he does to convey messages, he might consider this: In a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves.


Even before Webb's studied truculence in response to the President's hospitality, Webb was going out of his way to make waves. A week after the election, he published a column in The Wall Street Journal that began this way:


"The most important — and unfortunately the least debated — issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country."


Well.


In his novels and his political commentary, Webb has been a writer of genuine distinction, using language with care and precision. But just days after winning an election, he was turning out slapdash prose that would be rejected by a reasonably demanding high school teacher.


Never mind Webb's careless and absurd assertion that the nation's incessantly discussed wealth gap is "the least debated" issue in American politics.


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And never mind his use of the word "literally," although even with private schools and a large share of the nation's wealth, the "top tier" — whatever cohort he intends to denote by that phrase; he is suddenly too inflamed by social injustice to tarry over the task of defining his terms — does not "literally" live in another country.


And never mind the cavalier historical judgments — although is he sure that America is less egalitarian today than it was, say, 50 years ago, when only about 7 percent of American adults had college degrees? (Twenty-eight percent do today.) Or 80 years ago, when more than 80 percent of American adults did not have high school diplomas (85 percent have them today), and only about 46 percent owned their own homes, compared with 69 percent today?


But notice, in the same sentence that the word "literally" appears, the word "infinitely." Earth to Webb: Words have meanings that not even senators can alter. And he has been elected to be a senator, not Humpty Dumpty in "Through the Looking Glass." ("When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.") America's national economic statistics are excellent; Webb could actually tell us how much richer the "top tier" has become, relative to other cohorts, over a particular span. But that would require him to actually say who he is talking about, and that takes time and effort, and senators — Webb is a natural — often are too busy for accuracy.


Based on Webb's behavior before being sworn in, one shudders to think what he will be like after that. He already has become what Washington did not need another of, a subtraction from the city's civility and clear speaking.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

George Will's latest book is "With a Happy Eye but: America and the World, 1997-2002" to purchase a copy, click here. Comment on this column by clicking here.

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