In happier times, the libbies would have exclaimed, “Oh, what a lovely war!” But they’re too shell-shocked to smile, if beloved leader General Jennings is any indication. One day at the helm of ABC’s all-antiwar coverage has left him trauma-syndromed. By late evening Thursday he was using such language as “what the hell is going on?” It’s bad enough for him that several years ago he stopped smoking.
Nonetheless, it must be said Peter retains a nose for Middle Eastern political shifts. Two months ago he presciently asked Iraqi double agent Tariq Aziz at the start of their memorable interview, “As I came into the ministry this morning, I thought to myself, ‘target.’ Do you think the same thing?” What can one say about a target that’s gone the way of the Planning Ministry? So much for best-laid planning ministries?
Peter did smile once on Thursday, beatifically. It was during his live interview with St. Hans Blix, whom he welcomed into his brotherly band of Hamptonites by calling him “one of the best known personalities in the world today.” Later he would rerun excerpts from the interview, though careful not to include a red-faced moment. In live time Peter had asked: What was it like when word came you’d have to evacuate Baghdad and leave your inspections behind? Blixie replied (in so many Swedish words): What in hell are you talking about? I was in New York ready to report on my latest nonfindings and bury anything unpleasant when word came the inspections gig was up.
The war now centers on which of Saddam’s eight doubles we saw yesterday reading from his abridged bedside copy of War and Peace. It’s the kind of mystery that could intrigue Ms. Monica L., whom Foxy TV has hired as a resident expert on bachelorette matters. Incidentally, that bold hiring by Fox is guaranteed to destabilize the Arab Street, even if it already resembles a giant crater. But to return to our discussion of mistaken identity. Were the bombs after Saddam or after his doubles? In the ongoing psy-war poker game, it’s entirely possible that the fake-Saddams were the real targets. Everyone knows the ultimate loss of face for Saddam will come when he has to show his own face.
So far he’s winning, since clearly the lighter haired and more giddily smiling faux Saddam we saw yesterday bore scarce resemblance to the swarthy Saddam interviewed on “60 Minutes II” last month. To be sure, your “60 Minutes” Saddam wasn’t covered by layers of soot and plaster powder, hairspray, and cologne. Loved his hand-me-down Che Guevara outfit, too!
The doubles game raises other disturbing questions, beginning with Dan Rather and his now forgotten interview scoop. Was that really Dan in Baghdad last month, or just at the CBS studio in New York? A Hollywood actor faked an Iraqi accent in the voiceover translations of Saddam’s comments. Did Baghdad television use a similar technique in having a local come across as Dan?
Now all bets are off for Sunday’s Academy Awards. To prevent the snowballing of no-shows set off when Will Smith, Tom Hanks, and Nicole Kidman announced they would not attend the already curtailed event, producers should be prepared to fill the Kodak Theatre with extras to the stars. When runts like Dustin Hoffman or Susan Sarandon fall flat on their face, will it be they, or their stuntmen? It was confusing enough when starlets used to reveal themselves at this event and viewers never knew what was real and what was surreal. Now we’ll be forever in the dark. Imagine a Saddam equivalent in Hollywood, Oliver Stone, say, with eight doubles. It’s happening already. And all of it brought to you without any resort to cloning.
Now, finally, to some bit players, who also serve. In the House of Representatives, eleven congressmen and womyn voted “no” on a resolution of support to our fighting men and women in the Middle East. One of the nay-sayers was Rep. Jim McDermott, putting to rest rumors that he’d stayed behind in Baghdad as a human shield. Twenty-two congressionals declined to say nay without saying yeah, settling instead for “present.” These included Jesse Jackson, Jr., a courageous move in that such a vote included no appearance fee. On the Senate side, the measure passed unaninimously, meaning Sen. Tom Daschle was feeling the heat after his Azizesque outburst on the eve of war. His vote came too late to save his patriotic skin, unfortunately, which is now so yellow that he might as well double as an Easter chick come April 20. In that regard, he’ll make our cutest EOW ever.