The alternative views of the Bush-Webb encounter, from the inbox:
K-Lo – This thread is a losing proposition for the administration on a number of fronts:
– The classy thing to do would be for him to say, “Yes, I understand that. I really am curious though, how is your son doing?”
– I see zero evidence anywhere that Webb’s initial response was out of the ordinary in Washington. On chat shows and too often in person, question about A elicits response (not answer) about B, C, or D. If this is a failing of Webb, then it’s a failing of every occupant of the Green Room or Russert’s studio or 90% of social gatherings there.
– A realistic (and very human) interpretation is that Webb heard his son mentioned, and that was the first thought on his mind and out of his mouth.
I’m not a great fan of Webb’s comment to the President. But, I also don’t think it showed a lot of class for the President to respond to Webb’s initial answer with “That’s not what I asked you. How’s your boy.” Once Webb showed a reluctance to speak on the personal issue of his son, the President should have let it go. He chose to push, and Webb pushed back.
I’m of course greatly sympathetic to the he-thought-of-his-son-and-just-said-it view. (I’d also bet that Laura Bush had some gentle words for her husband about his response.) Had he left it at the White House, fine. But to continue the whole thing in the press is what seems so un senatorial.