Wright from Washington City
December 16, 2003


O frabjous day!


Ah, the frumious Saddam was captured, and our beamish Emperor wasted no time in galumphing to the cameras to gloat. That cowardly Saddam! Instead of standing around making himself an easy target, said George II, he "crawled into a hole." So all those bombs the Empire dropped trying to kill him only wound up blowing some luckless civilians to bits. Serves them right for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Of course, Mr. Bush also secreted himself in a hole — on 9/11 — but that wasn't the same thing. It was a much nicer hole, with clean floors and furniture and shiny electronic gizmos. Besides, he didn't want to go there, they told us, and he had to be dragged bodily inside and the door slammed shut real quick before he could stick his foot in it.

The day after Saddam's capture, the papers and telescreens were filled with pictures of celebrating Iraqis, and one could have gotten the impression that it was a turning point of some kind: Now that the evil man is captured, the healing can begin! Certainly that was the idea the Reverend Moon's Washington Times, a rabid supporter of the war, wanted to get across. "'A hopeful day has arrived' in Iraq" was the headline of one news story on the front page below the fold, accompanied by a picture of celebrating Iraqis:

The raucous jubilation in the streets of Baghdad — the shouts of euphoric pedestrians, the din of horns of cars and trucks, the staccato clatter of guns fired at the sky that is the mark of celebration across Arabia — demonstrated once and for all the shallow depth of the "resistance" to the coalition triumph over Saddam Hussein.

But on second look, the story wasn't a story at all. It bore no dateline, and the byline was Wesley Pruden's. His title wasn't included, but the masthead identifies him as "Editor in Chief." Clever Wesley! He disguised his editorial as a news item! And this from a man who routinely excoriates other, more "liberal" publications for similar transgressions.

And that picture of jubilant Iraqis? They were waving, um ... red flags. Including one with a barely visible hammer and sickle. They were Communists, although the Times neglected to mention that. Neo-Trot politics certainly do make strange bedfellows. When I showed the photo to Joe Sobran, he chuckled, "Yep, those are our guys!"

So what about the rest of the Iraqis, the ones who aren't Commies? Is the resistance as shallow as the dissimulating Mr. Pruden would have us think? A Reuter dispatch printed the following day in the Times's sworn enemy, the Washington Post, wasn't quite so rosy. Of course, it was written by an actual reporter, who happened actually to be in Iraq, if that makes any difference:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) — Joy at the capture of Saddam Hussein gave way to resentment toward Washington Monday as Iraqis confronted afresh the bloodshed, shortages and soaring prices of life under U.S. occupation ...

... Drivers echoed the complaints of chronic fuel shortages in a country with the world's second-largest oil reserves, as well as of their treatment at the hands of troops who have killed civilians while hunting suspected Saddam partisans or pursuing criminals with Iraqi police.

"The Americans promised freedom and prosperity; what's this? Go up to their headquarters, at one of those checkpoints where they point their guns at you, and tell them that you hate them as much as Saddam, and see what they do to you," said Mohammad Saleh, 39, a building contractor.

"The only difference is that Saddam would kill you in private, where the Americans will kill you in public," he said.

"A lot of things — safety, freedom, prosperity — that we were supposed to have are gone. They promised many things, and now that they have caught Saddam maybe they kept one." ("Saddam Arrest Cheer Fades into Iraqi Ire at U.S." by Joseph Logan, December 15)

The capture of Saddam has given Bush a much-needed victory to crow about and has temporarily muted much of the growing criticism by Minitrue about the war. But, as Bush's father found out, the boost from such a triumph can be fleeting; and the suicide bombings and other inconvenient violence are continuing. Even worse, now that Saddam is out of the picture for good, Iraqis don't have to worry about his coming back if the Americans leave, adding a new incentive to the resistance. And meanwhile, the federal deficit has mushroomed beyond control, the dollar is in free fall, and the economy is going nowhere and won't improve for quite a while.

I wonder. Every now and then, in the wee hours, does George catch fleeting glimpses of the ghost of LBJ?

© 2003 by WTM Enterprises. All rights reserved.

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