Picture this, though maybe some Democrats would rather you didn't. Rep. Dick Gephardt is delivering his valedictory after being named Mr. San Francisco Democrat of 2003. Amid his tributes to flower power and transcendental meditation, and kindly denunciations of machismo, John Wayne, and arrogant unilateralism, comes word that Mr. Saddam Hussein's two boys have been done in by American soldiers who happen to like John Wayne. Some of you might think Rep. Gephardt's timing humiliatingly off. Don't be so sure. Here is a man of deep political vision and a sense of what might have been.
He knew all along, for instance, that it was a mistake to demonstrate machismo and unilateralism in chasing down Saddam's kids, at least not before other methods of intervention were attempted first. Rather than attack with bullets and bombs, Gephardt would have applied Middle American methods to approach the house in which the boys were chilling. Drawing on his experience as the son of a milkman, he'd have driven up to the driveway, carried a few bottles of milk to the front door, rung the doorbell, and pleasantly asked if his customers might not also be interested in some cottage cheese, or vanilla ice cream, or maybe boysenberry yogurt. If this tactic didn't work, he'd have sent an Avon lady, whose person and wares would have definitely attracted the boys' attention. Then, as a bonus, along would have come a TV satellite dish installer. With the NFL season about to get into gear, the boys would have been set for reintegration into modern Western society. A major international incident would have been avoided. People like Gephardt have the world figured out.
The New York Times is playing it smart. Faster than it takes Bob Herbert to print out the latest version of his stump speech or Maureen Dowd to hiss, the paper went out and appointed national greatness conservative David Brooks a twice-weekly columnist. If confirmed, Brooks is expected to change the ideological balance on the Times' op-ed bench. That is, unless the appointment is a prelude to the easing out of William Safire and elevation of Ms. Dowd as chief columnist. Insiders contend the affable and witty Brooks was a safe choice -- just the sort of thing that was said when David Souter was named to his current post. Confirmation won't be automatic, in any case. Despite its commitment to full disclosure, the new Times neglected to come totally clean on Mr. Brooks's past. From some strange paranoid reason, its announcement failed to mention the nominee's once intimate ties with National Review and the Washington Times. Expect a filibuster until this credibility matter is resolved.
In happier news, the Great One, bulbous Bill Clinton, rode to the rescue of our embattled prince of a president. The incident, during a birthday tribute to Bob Dole, was entirely unexpected, a bolt out of the blue as daring as Clinton's cruise attacks on OBL and the aspirin factory. It came just as the Clinton-controlled Democratic National Committee, headed by the most dubious Floridian since Meyer Lansky, was preparing a full-page ad for Friday's New York Times demanding "a full, independent, bipartisan investigation that will answer the American people's questions about Bush's statements and hold Bush and his administration accountable for all fabrications." Hey, but Bill now says he's "pulling for America" and its president on Iraq. Just like that he pulled the Persian rug out for from under his fellow Democrats, who presumably have all been pulling for Saddam and his boys and their gangs.
Then Bill added this, "You know, everybody makes mistakes when they are president." In other words, in case you haven't figured it out, or would never have suspected and could hardly imagine, Bill is damning with feigned praise. He's already tried and convicted our reigning president of everything the Democrats have charged him with. Why else would he drag Bush down to his level? Bill is an impeached former President. He knows as well as anyone that Scandal is his middle name (and his confirmation name, his alias, his pen name, his nickname, and, when in France and former French colonies, his nom de plume). So if by some magic he can establish moral equivalence between himself and the incumbent, he thinks he'll be home free.
Lousy try. Wile E. Coyote came closer to catching the Roadrunner than cartoon Bill will to catching rehabilitation. There's not much more in his future than another Enemy of the Week award. That, and continued domination of the Democrat Party.
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