"Mr. Webb now takes his place with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Howard Dean, Al Gore, Jean-Francois Kerry, and so many other Democratic notables as a rebarbative blowhard with whom you would not want to share a gondola. Nor would a civilized American want to have any of these churlish cads to dinner or even as neighbors down the block. Just the other day one of Mrs. Clinton's neighbors turned up with a gunshot wound. I would not be surprised if it were self-inflicted.
"As it happens I did dine with Mr. Webb, sometime after his brief stint at the Navy Department. He is a pretty good novelist and in print at the time had expressed some ideas of which I approved, particularly his scruples against women in combat, though other of his references to women strike me as coarse.
"At any rate, I invited him to dinner for what turned out to be a gruesome evening. Mr. Webb is one of those people said to be uncomfortable in his skin. At first, I thought his discomfort might come from the fear he would have to pay his way. It was a classy eatery. I reassured him he was my guest. I went on to make clear I considered him a fine writer.
"Nothing I said reassured him, not even my insistence that he have dessert. I left baffled. Most of the military men I have known are gents. Many writers are cads, but I thought a writer who had also served high up in the Reagan administration might be civilized. After that dinner I never made the mistake of inviting him anywhere again."