Pirandello in the receiving line
I haven’t read Webb’s books, so I’m in no position to say whether they are written in such excellent style, and I don’t know whether the language Webb wields in his new senatorial guise is all that different from his novelist’s approach. But I suspect that what we’re seeing is not a man who has instantly succumbed to Washington’s ways but a man with a novelist’s mentality in a new setting. One way to explain his awkward behavior with respect to the presidential receiving line is that he thought through that scene like a novelist. If you were writing a novel about a character like him going through a receiving line with a President like Bush, wouldn’t that be exactly the sort of scene you’d want to think up?
Ordinarily, in all sorts of social and political situations, people try to figure out how other people usually act and to stick to the convention and proceed smoothly along. This is nice enough, but rather boring. In a novel, a conventional social situation tends to be a set up for our hero to do something that shakes things up. The ordinary characters are aghast. They condemn the bad behavior of the protaganist, and we readers, in our armchairs, know how right he is. Of course, a novelist who concocts scenes like that is himself utterly conventional.
I don’t think Webb has quickly picked up the Washington style. I think he’s got the novelist’s style, and he’s his own hero Senator in a novel about Washington. And, what immense fun this is going to be!
How wonderful that George Bush was in on the whole improv bit and played Bud Abbott to Jim Webb’s Lou Costello, except for that churlish part about “That’s not what I asked you,”…. “How’s your boy?” which was distinctly unfunny. Yesterday it complimented neither man, but Webb sounded “mental”. But somehow, in Althousetopia, this story now says more about an “awkward” Jim Webb and not much about an unsympathetic social maladroit like George W. Bush who still hasn’t picked up the “Washington style” after six years in office.
Must be a learning disability. I mean, George has one. I don’t know what Althouse’s problem is.