But He Can Write

This week Parade magazine features an article by the man-boy who singly did more to hurt the plight of women at the service academies (Washingtonian “Women Can’t Fight,” 1979 — no, we’re not letting it go) and possibly in the Naval services in general than any other person. (Forget his brief (10-month) stint as Navy Secretary — those specialties that “opened” for women in the Navy and Marine Corps during his reign would have opened regardless.) 

The cover ‘splays ol’ Virginia Sen. Jim “Women Can’t Fight” Webb in a not-so-crisp white shirt with sleeves rolled up (must be that “Fight” theme), slightly loosened red tie (Fight!), and wedding ring (Stable!) with the Capitol in the background (Fight!). Caption: “What it Means to be a Leader.” Inspirational! Not really, but the man can write. The Web site (no pun) confesses the article has been adapted from his latest book A Time to Fight. Of course that should not to be confused with Born Fighting. Does this guy like to fight or what? This seeming penchant for conflict might explain that whole hand-your-(concealed)-weapon-to-your-aid-to-mistakenly-take-into-the-Capitol-and-spend-a-night-in-a-DC-jail-on-a-felony-arms-charge thing. So what if it was devoted aid’s birthday? No reason to interrupt a New Orleans junket, where the gun laws are as loose as the levees! 

Ah, but we digress. 

Love him or hate him, one thing most can agree on, Fightin’ Jim can write. As in write well. The former Marine is a gifted artist who pens with aching beauty and striking clarity. Sadness envelops much of his work. We would like to say it is contrived, but it’s not. It’s honest stuff. His prose flows, rushing when needed, urging one to read on. He writes simply and works his descriptive passages to give one the feeling of participant or spectator — you choose. 

“The doc put the boy on a wooden box next to our command post. Over the next half hour, as I spoke on the radio, the boy lay near me quietly, never making a sound, all the while watching me. Nor could I stop watching him. And as we stared at each other, he slowly died.” 

As destructive some consider this controversial figure, his written works (save for his ill-timed, vitriolic diatribe nearly 30 years’ past) are … very good.

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