This was Will's version of events:
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.Will's version is less than complete. He may have disapproved of Webb's comments, but he should have quoted Webb's remarks in their entirety.
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 answered Bush's initial question by saying, ""I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President." Perhaps Will chose not to include the last two words of Webb's reply because doing so wouldn't have supported Will's contention that the senator-elect showed "patent disrespect for the presidency."
It's incredibly ironic that Will — by using [sic] — takes a backhanded swipe at Webb's command or proper use of the English language. Between Webb and Bush, there's no doubt who is the more grammatically challenged person.
Will also was selective in how he quoted Bush's comments at the reception. According to Will:
When the president again asked "How's your boy?" Webb replied ...But Will neglects to mention that before Bush re-asked his question, he said to Webb: "That's not what I asked you."
The president's words may have been tit-for-tat, but, as remarks go, they certainly contributed to the incivility.
Under the circumstances, perhaps we should be pleased that George Will is a columnist and not a reporter; he seems to have a hard time quoting remarks fully and accurately.