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Senator Nearly Punches President Bush
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Post Senator Nearly Punches President Bush - December 1, 2006, 12:29 PM

In Following His Own Script, Webb May Test Senate's Limits

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 29, 2006; A01

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.
"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.
"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.
"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.
Webb was narrowly elected to the U.S. Senate this month with a brash, unpolished style that helped win over independent voters in Virginia and earned him support from national party leaders. Now, his Democratic colleagues in the Senate are getting a close-up view of the former boxer, military officer and Republican who is joining their ranks.
If the exchange with Bush two weeks ago is any indication, Webb won't be a wallflower, especially when it comes to the war in Iraq. And he won't stick to a script drafted by top Democrats.
"I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall," Webb said in an interview yesterday in which he confirmed the exchange between him and Bush. "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."
In the days after the election, Webb's Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill went out of their way to make nice with Bush and be seen by his side. House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sat down for a lunch and photo opportunity with Bush, as did Democratic leaders in the Senate.
Not Webb, who said he tried to avoid a confrontation with Bush at the White House reception but did not shy away from one when the president approached.
The White House declined to discuss the encounter. "As a general matter, we do not comment on private receptions hosted by the president at the White House," said White House spokeswoman Dana M. Perino.
Webb said he has "strong ideas," but he also insisted that -- as a former Marine in Vietnam -- he knows how to work in a place such as the Senate, where being part of a team is important.
He plans to push for a new GI bill for soldiers who have served in the days since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but not as a freshman senator. He has approached the Democratic leadership about getting senior legislators to sponsor the bill when the 110th Congress convenes in January.
A strong backer of gun rights, Webb may find himself at odds with many in his party. He expressed support during the campaign for a bill by his opponent, Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), that would allow concealed weapons in national parks. But an aide said this week that Webb will review Allen's legislation.
"There are going to be times when I've got some strong ideas, but I'm not looking to simply be a renegade," he said. "I think people in the Democratic Party leadership have already begun to understand that I know how to work inside a structure."
His party's leaders hope that he means it.
Top Democratic senators, including incoming Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), had invested their money and prestige in Webb before he won the party primary in June. His victory was also theirs, but now they have to make sure he's not a liability.
"He's not a typical politician. He really has deep convictions," said Schumer, who headed the Senate Democrats' campaign arm. "We saw this in the campaign. We would have disagreements. But when you made a persuasive argument, he would say, 'You're right.' I am truly not worried about it. He understands the need to be part of a team."
One senior Democratic staff member on Capitol Hill, who spoke on condition that he not be identified so he could speak freely about the new senator, said that Webb's lack of political polish was part of his charm as a candidate but could be a problem as a senator.
"I think he's going to be a total pain. He is going to do things his own way. That's a good thing and a bad thing," the staff member said. But he said that Webb's personality may be just what the Senate needs. "You need a little of everything. Some element of that personality is helpful."
Webb has started to put himself out front. On "Meet the Press" last week, 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.
He announced yesterday that he has hired Paul J. Reagan, a communications director for former governor Mark R. Warner (D) and a former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.). It will be Reagan's job to help his boss navigate the intricacies of Washington and Capitol Hill without losing the essence of his personality.
"The relationships he has built over his long career will serve me well," Webb said in a statement yesterday.
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who campaigned hard to get Webb elected, said yesterday that the first-time officeholder doesn't have the finesse of most experienced politicians.
"He is not a backslapper," Kaine said. "There are different models that succeed in politics. There's the hail-fellow-well-met model of backslapping. That's not his style."
But Kaine said that Webb's background, including a stint as Ronald Reagan's Navy secretary, will make him an important -- if unpredictable -- voice on the war in Iraq.
"There are no senators who have that everyday anxiety that he has as a dad with a youngster on the front lines. That gives him gravitas and credibility on this issue," Kaine said. "People in the Senate, I'm sure, will agree with him or disagree with him on issue to issue. But they won't doubt that he's coming at it from a real sense of duty."
Staff writer Peter Baker contributed to this report.


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December 1, 2006, 12:36 PM

sounds like a good addition to me..


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December 1, 2006, 12:40 PM

while most would say good for him. Unfortunately to get your Agenda through the beurocratic BS, an altercation wont help him much at all.

It really sux that you have to play so nice for everyone, but it is the only way unfortunately.


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December 1, 2006, 12:45 PM

OK so how does this read to the thread topic line " Senator Nearly Punches President Bush"? He may find it hard to get anything he wants with a I don't give a fuc about anyone else attitude! I think the reason he won was it was him or Allen, and allen shot himself in the foot with all his stupid remarks.


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December 1, 2006, 12:49 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by spud
while most would say good for him. Unfortunately to get your Agenda through the beurocratic BS, an altercation wont help him much at all.

It really sux that you have to play so nice for everyone, but it is the only way unfortunately.
Agenda? Getting the troops home, lowering student interest rates and such have support. When asking about one's child, the President got the answer he deserved. Webb will serve us well for a second (Vietnam Vet) time. I'll ask it again. When are the Bush twins enlisting?
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December 1, 2006, 12:51 PM

He didn't win...Allen is such a complete idiot that he lost.

Webb is an ass and I find it hard to believe that he got most of the female vote anyway.
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December 1, 2006, 12:51 PM

I like him already. People who stake their ground always win points with me. Hopefully he'll help introduce a "spine" to the Democratic party. He's not the one that is going to be making "deals" with the President anyhow.

I despise the Bush-style plastic politician with no substance. Webb is far from my ideal candidate, but he seems to be pretty direct. What you see is what you get and nothing is sugar coated.

Time will tell.


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December 1, 2006, 01:21 PM

good for him, big balls Webb
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December 1, 2006, 01:25 PM

Fact:
More people have died in our little "war" in Iraq than total # of people during 9/11.
If its eye for eye, lets pack up and head home.
But make sure you have enough OIL in reserves at your house.. Prices for Petro will sky-rocket.
Webb was speaking as a father, not as a political figure at the time.
Blood is thicker than OIL.... but which costs more?


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December 1, 2006, 01:30 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackHatch
He didn't win...Allen is such a complete idiot that he lost.

Webb is an ass and I find it hard to believe that he got most of the female vote anyway.
A fucker born in Cali tells a kid born in FFx county welcome to America? F Allen.
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December 1, 2006, 01:40 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by WvGoDFather
Fact:
More people have died in our little "war" in Iraq than total # of people during 9/11.
If its eye for eye, lets pack up and head home.
But make sure you have enough OIL in reserves at your house.. Prices for Petro will sky-rocket.
Webb was speaking as a father, not as a political figure at the time.
Blood is thicker than OIL.... but which costs more?
I agree with you, just a small correction more Americans have died than the total number during 9/11. On top of that how many Iraqi civilians who had nothing to do with any of this , who were trying to live and take care of their families are dead on top of that. I guess they are collateral damage their lives mean shit , the next generation will look back at this time and ask what the fuck were we doing.
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December 1, 2006, 01:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by WvGoDFather
Webb was speaking as a father, not as a political figure at the time.
Exactly why I liked it. He wasn't going to polish over it just to be chummy with the Prez.


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