Diplomacy, Or Silencing of the First Order?

Some like to joke with me about running for office, but this piece in the NYT confirmed what I already know, which is the insanity of what they call “diplomacy”–that is the game of being a politican. This article on newly elected Senator Jim Webb is telling, to say the least. Some say he is breaching White House manners–why you might ask? Because when Bush asked how his son was doing in Iraq, Webb he said he wanted to get him out and Bush responded, that’s not what I asked.
Well, Washington is left in a tizzy…not just damn, but hot damn.
In case we need a reminder why working for change is hard in this country–oh right, there’s the right time and place. Some bullshit…and yes, I’m a call it like it is, some bullshit. And yes, that is eloquent, and I’d say, rather diplomatic.
Because it’s no wonder why we’re all so screwed when silencing and subordination is called diplomacy and we’re all asked to dance and smile, show face for the sake of diplomatic White House styles. All lies and games in times of warfare now, no truth telling to the President–that’s just deemed improper.
Now go ahead and act right! You know, we all need some order…
Go ahead and read this mess for yourself.

The exchange had some people in Washington tut-tutting that the new senator who campaigned in his son’s combat boots would have a lot of learnin’ to do about the rules of polite Washington society — never mind that Mr. Webb had served as secretary of the Navy, an institution built on protocol, in the Reagan White House.
The Post, looking at how his “brash, unpolished style” might test the limits, noted that on “Meet the Press” “he dispensed with the normal banter with host Tim Russert to talk seriously about Iraq and the need for economic justice in the United States.” Imagine!
“I’m surprised and offended by Jim Webb,” said Stephen Hess, the author of “The Little Book of Campaign Etiquette” and a professor at George Washington University. “If you accept somebody’s invitation, you’re expected to respond in socially acceptable ways. Why go to be rude? Is it so awful to be polite?
“He was secretary of the Navy, for heaven’s sake!”
Others laid the blame on Mr. Bush, believing he should not have sought out Mr. Webb, and not been short with him in response.
“It was an uncivil reply to an uncivil remark,” said Letitia Baldrige, a doyenne of Washington manners, calling the whole thing “a sad exchange.”
And even Mr. Hess had to admit the president was “a little snippy” in his response.
It’s true that Washington is a place predicated on protocol: where to stand, what to wear, what to say (or not to), and how to pretend to like people you don’t. You can attack someone on television, but in the receiving line — which Mr. Webb declined to go through — you’re supposed to smile as you clasp hands.
Nancy Pelosi, the speaker-elect, campaigned against the president with sharp elbows, but she knew enough to cross her ankles and smile about extending “the hand of friendship” when the president invited her to lunch once her party won.
The leader of the Senate Democrats, Harry Reid, likewise called the president a liar in the campaign, but sat beside him and smiled for the cameras after.
The smallest deviation can upset the perceived order.

Full story.
And don’t you just love the sexism of this story: “Nancy Pelosi, the speaker-elect, campaigned against the president with sharp elbows, but she knew enough to cross her ankles and smile about extending “the hand of friendship” when the president invited her to lunch once her party won.” — Yes, they really wrote cross her ankles. Hot damn again.

5 thoughts on “Diplomacy, Or Silencing of the First Order?

  1. No way, Cole. It is much too late for you to pull the donkey card out now. The Democrats are finally back in power after too many years because you and other far-Left social revolution types kept pulling them into all this victimology “historical oppression” dead end nonsense. Read all about it this week’s Forward editorial, Cole. But you know that already. As you wrote on your own Jpravda, “economic populism” is the catch phrase. NO MORE VICTIMOLOGY. NO MORE SOCIAL REVOLUTION. That stuff is a waste of time. And it loses elections. We have people like you to thank for last six years of insanity. With your Nader and your far-Left narishkeit. It’s because of people like you we lost in 2000.
    So don’t you dare start pretending now that the Democratic party is your party. You “moved on” a long time ago. Those aren’t your people, Cole. Go to your own party. And it ain’t the Democratic one.

  2. Cole,
    Remember, Webb is one of those conservatives Dems we elected. I didn’t know conservatives wrote op-eds in the WSJ about class warfare. Seriously, this mainstream media narrative has been driving me nuts.
    DK- I still find it remarkable that center left people insist on blaming those of us further left of them for 2000. Not Gore for having the charisma of my chair, or failing to win his OWN HOME STATE THAT HE REPRESENTED in the Senate, or Clinton’s home state. Not the people that designed the ballots. Not the “brooks brothers rioters” like soon to be former representative John Sweeney. Not the Republican machinery in Florida that disenfranchised thousands of voters. Not the Supreme Court who stopped the full recount BEFORE IT WAS COMPLETED.
    Gore made himself an easy target. If he stopped with the triangulation must say the right thing nonsense, and showed an ounce of the humor, charisma, and character he’s shown in the last six years, we wouldn’t be here.
    I hope this election marks the death-knell of the DLC Clintonistas and their nonsense. The people that won the crazy upsets in this election were people-powered candidates with progressive visions. Sure, there are one or two Dems in the senate I’m not happy with, but then again, so’s Bernie Sanders.

  3. True true Ruby.
    For me it was less about Webb and more about the article as a whole in regards to the issue of diplomacy. Extraordinary I do say, extraordinary–and yet in some ways such a relief for it to really be named it–of course I wish they had said it was more of a problem than they did and that silencing isn’t etiquette, but articles like these I think help draw back the curtain from Oz–it definitely helps for me to understand this world we call politics, and just in general how we feel this in our daily lives in all sorts of ways, many (or dare I say most ) of us even in our work places and definitely in the media.

  4. “Why go to be rude? Is it so awful to be polite?”
    This is the central question in this article. Think about it for a moment. Just meditate on this question as juxtaposed to the nature of politics, international relations, war, and the presidency. Ask yourself daily, in all kinds of situations, “is it really so awful to be polite”?

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