Enemy of the Week

Out of Place

Saddam and his Democratic confreres vie for top honors. Which doesn't mean they have a snowball's chance.

By 12.5.05

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Once again, Saddam has miscalculated. He's living in the wrong place, and prone to lose his temper whenever appears in public. Had he joined the smart set in the U.S. instead, he'd never have to scream at any judge let alone announce he's "not afraid of execution." If not so prideful he could have appeared with Robert Redford the other night as one of the Kennedy Center honorees. The two men certainly have much in common, and not just because each is considered a golden boy in his respective country.

Last spring Mr. Redford called for Watergate-like investigations of the Bush presidency, in the hopes of a resolution not unlike the one he was part of in All the President's Men. We can't repeat here what Mr. Saddam has said along similar lines. Yet there was Mr. Redford on Sunday night, sharing a box with the devil president at the Kennedy Center. Earlier in the day, at a White House reception, Mr. Redford heard himself praised by the same president as "an active, passionate, committed citizen," "extraordinarily handsome," "most watchable and credible." Imagine what the president would have said about Saddam in such magnanimous circumstances. (And imagine what Codename OBL must be thinking about this pushover president.)

Had he accepted Democratic overtures of asylum, Saddam would have doubtless settled in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its beloved governor, Mark Warner, who's now completing his term, has the friendly disposition of a U.N. peacekeeper. Recently Gov. Warner commuted the death sentence of a convicted murderer, on the purported grounds that he didn't want to be the one signing off on the 1,000th execution since the restoration of the death penalty in the U.S. twenty-five years or so ago. It would have made much more sense if Saddam had been the one flirting with that milestone, given his own expertise in disposing of 1,000 lives in twenty-five minutes or so.

Everyone always knew Rep. Nancy Pelosi was a little slow, but this time we could see turtles outrunning her, and some of them appeared to be going in reverse. St. John Murtha came out against the Iraq War on November 17, much to the nearly unanimous delight of the Democratic congressional caucus. It wasn't until November 30 that Ms. Pelosi went on the record to endorse the Murtha Plan. We suspect the delay was caused by Ms. Pelosi's concern that any withdrawal from Iraq could hasten the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Amid all the cutting and running, next to no one had time to pay adequate tribute to Ted Koppel on his withdrawal from Nightline territory last month and the beginning of what is being called the Post-Ted Koppel Era. It is destined to collide with the Post-Peter Jennings Era, now that Bob Woodruff, the cloned son of Bob Woodward and Judy Woodruff, has been named an ABC Co-Anchor.

Mr. Woodruff will share duties with Ms. Elizabeth Vargas, who should have been named Jennings' sole successor, pure and simple, but because she is a woman it was thought she lacks the toughness and mathematical and scientific skills the job requires.

Meanwhile, although she covered Katrina, live and in person on some occasions, Vargas has been outhustled on that beat by Brian Williams, he of the Post-Tom Brokaw Era. According to the gregarious Howard Kurtz, whose profile of Williams yesterday was lengthy and ponderous enough to have been penned by David Halberstam, the thinking used to be that Williams was a lightweight. But that was before he traveled to Katrina country and made the beat his own. Now he gives his producer hell if the NBC Nightly News runs "without something Katrina-related." No lightweight could be that bird-brained.

Which brings us to Rep. Jim Moran's former sparring partner, ex-Rep. Randy Cunningham. Perhaps it was the permanent brain damage Moran caused him, but in any case Cunningham accepted bribes worthy of someone desiring to live in one of Saddam's fabulously tacky palaces. On top of everything else, he insisted on driving a Rolls-Royce that's been valued at about $30,000, if you combine purchase price and repairs on the presumably previously owned vehicle. What kind of self-respecting sleazoid agrees to own such a clunker? Was it a counterfeit Rolls made in Macau? Or was it proof positive that it's EOWs like Randy that confirm his is indeed the Stupid Party?

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