From TPM Reader JS, one of our longtime readers …
I have a slightly different take on this.
I think Bush sought out Webb–who was rather obviously avoiding Bush–to symbolically spit in his face. “How’s your boy?” was Bush’s code for, “You may think you’re hot spit because you have a chestful of medals and won running against me and my war, but I’m the Decider, see, and you don’t have a damn thing to say about when your precious son, or any of the other troops, are going to leave Iraq. They’ll stay there until I say they can go and not before. The only way your boy’s getting out of there any earlier is on a stretcher or in a body bag. How do ya like *them* apples, tough guy?”
Bush intended for Webb to get it and be humiliated because he wouldn’t dare answer back confrontationally in the context of a celebratory presidential reception.
Webb *did* get it, but he refused to knuckle under. It wasn’t Bush’s petulant response to Webb’s statement about Iraq that got Webb’s back up, it was the initial patently insincere inquiry about his son. The exchange
was hostile right from the start.