What’s in a pretty face? No one could decide. The underground rock star formerly known as Saddam emerged under the glare of klieg lights to send fans scurrying for appropriate comparisons. He looks likes the Unabomber, some shrieked. Like Al Gore, others chanted. Like Charles Manson someone added. Like Karl Marx, Solzhenitsyn, Ho Chi Minh. Left-wing critics of the form his arrest took are charging that results of his lice tests have been suppressed. They want to compare his plight to that of the homeless and thus blame his condition on the policies of President George W. Bush.
More outrageous was manner in which the Bush team proceeded to cover its tracks, bowing to pressure from donors at Schick and Gillette to give the countercultural Saddam a close shave, thereby turning him into someone almost resembling a post-hippie human. Pretty soon people were mistaking him for the late Walter Matthau. Once that happened, everyone from Barbara Walters to Richard Cohen was demanding that Saddam’s life be spared, which was music to his manager Dan Rather’s ears and all of civilized Europe’s.
Okay, we’re being a little hard on patriot Dan. Needless to say, even if he did so to protect a source, Dan spent more ours anchoring coverage of Saddam’s capture than any of his competitors. Tom Brokaw came in at number 2, though his mind, such as it is, didn’t seem to be into the coverage. Word has it he’s thinking of plunging into the Democratic presidential race, where he stands a good chance of winning more votes than Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley Braun combined, and don’t forget to throw in John Edwards. Ever since his “Greatest Generation” success Tom’s carried the burden of being our generation’s General Eisenhower. Can’t he just settle for becoming president of Columbia University?
Nowhere to be seen last Sunday morning and later was His Excellency Peter Jennings. He never anchors before Sunday brunch, we were told. But we happen to know he was in Aspen, skiing the slopes alongside cannonballing Howie Dean, who expects to win in an avalanche.
Responsible Democrats were skeptical from the first of Bush military’s search and rescue mission. Rep. Jim McDermott, spokesman for the Dean family, extended condolences to the Saddam clan for a suspiciously timed violation of their patriarch’s privacy. Jim’s confessor at the Vatican, Cardinal Renato Martino, expressed indignation over the allegedly inhumane treatment of the holy hermit Hussein. The greatest secretary of state since Warren Christopher, Mme. Madeleine Albright, took it from there, wondering aloud how long it would take for the administration to admit it has Osama bin Laden in custody. Until election eve, 2004? Later, lest she be mistaken for Sen. Patty Murray, Albright insisted she’d been joking. If so, she does a better deadpan than Buster Keaton.
Though not as a good as the you-know-it-all, Commandress Hillary Clinton. Fresh from her long march through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, the New York strongwoman addressed experts at the Council of Foreign Relations on the need to increase troop numbers in Iraq and extend their length of service there long past July. No wonder the next night she invoked Lyndon Johnson as one of the greats whose policies the current president is turning back. Escalation is the name of her new game. Instead of vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard next summer she’ll hang along the Gulf of Tonkin. Won’t that be some incident!
Other followers of the great political game were struck by Gen. Hillary’s reference to Jimmy Carter as another of her party’s presidential giants whose great achievements the current president is determined to undo. Actually, it’s too late for her to kvetch. The deed’s been done. In his jogging, for instance, the current president never collapsed. With a hostage crisis brewing he got an American crew out of China. When he sent helicopters into a desert they didn’t crash and burn. His secretary of state has yet to resign. He can’t even begin to pronounce stagflation. And as every best-selling Bush hater can tell you, he’s never promised, “I will never lie to you.”
By Democrat standards, nonetheless, Ms. Hillary is perfectly positioned. Given her party’s current crew of presidential candidates, it stands a better chance of winning in 2004 if it runs no one than if it nominates any of the jokers from Howie Dean on down. That is, unless she decides to send a man to do the job and names herself the Democratic nominee.
Her standing in our quarters is just as delicate. Next time we meet it will be to unveil the Enemy of the Year. It can hardly fair to the mother of Chelsea and wife of Bill that we’ve decided to name her the penultimate EOW of 2003. Now it’s for her to figure out whether this is the closest she’ll ever come to winning the big prize.