It’s an ugly fight, one that could have been prevented, but by now there’s no turning back. Two great men, two great visions, but only one North Korean nuclear weapons program. Which of the two deserves greater credit? Jimmy Carter actually traveled to North Korea in 1994, engaged its jovial leader, who some say bears a certain facial and characterological resemblance to Jimmy’s late brother Billy, and amid tearful prayers and tremulous handholding extracted a promise of full compliance with all Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. As we noted last week, Jimmy’s work always bears abundant fruit, and today we know that thanks to his selfless efforts North Korea and its Saddam, Kim Il Sung, are ready and willing to replace the former Soviet Union as America’s major nuclear rival.
But hold on. If any credit is due, shouldn’t it first go to Bill Clinton? Although he only sent his brother to Pyongyang and never traveled there himself — albeit he was mighty tempted to do so in his final days — Bill devoted most of his eight presidential years to growing North Korea’s nuclear economy much as it’s said he grew our economy. And whereas Jimmy merely talked and cajoled, Bill boy put money where his mug is, and found ways to pour American tax dollars into that small Asian country to help cover its nuclear handicraft — and without diverting any of the cash to his own re-election campaign. Now that’s commitment, though Bill’s not out of the woods yet. Consider: The economy he grew for us developed a bubble that burst. Can we thus expect North Korea’s nuclear bubble to follow suit?
But that doesn’t resolve the dispute. Is it JC or BC who’ll go down as North Korea’s Einstein? Perhaps conflict resolution would require one of them to settle for the title of North Korea’s Edward Teller instead. But that still leaves them in a tie of sorts. What might serve as a tie-breaker? Maybe Haiti can play that role. Recall how Bill Clinton was doing all in his might to restore the bloody Aristide to that island’s dictatorial throne — only to find Jimmy Carter already in Port-au-Prince handling negotiations on his own. What’s needed now is for Haiti to declare itself a nuclear power as well. When it does, we can expect President Aristide to reveal which of the two U.S. presidents made it happen. Doesn’t look good for Jimmy to have boasted about being a nuclear physicist. Probably that explains his famously nervous pronunciation of “nucla”!
Doesn’t look good for Jimmy on other fronts either. The Saddam dynasty of Iraq held another referendum on its enlightened rule — and Jimmy was nowhere to be found among the election monitors. Consequently, despite widespread assurances in the U.S. media that Saddam Hussein did indeed receive 100% of the vote, no one can quite believe that Bush backers didn’t use Florida methods to cut into Saddam’s margin. Perhaps the Carter Center could issue a position paper to put such concerns to rest.
In an effort to divert attention from Saddam’s victory, the White House held an East Room signing of its Iraq War Resolution that was attended by a number of key congressional figures. Notably absent, however, were Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, who took the day off to move to Canada, according to unofficial reports from a Vietnam-era underground railroad news service. Presumably it was just a practice run.
The Sniper continues to terrorize Washingtonians, but no one more so than some of our bravest journalists. In an effort to inject calm among the viewing public, the likes or Russert, Blitzer, Stephanopoulos, and Schieffer let on how drastically they’ve altered their everyday routines. None but Stepho — who has a barking dachshund to protect — could offer a legitimate excuse for his macho depletion.
Meanwhile, the sad senator from Missouri, Jean Carnahan, took time to suggest our president had her in his sights — when all along he should have been sniping at Osama bin Laden. Senator Carnahan doesn’t really want to know what’s already happened to Osama. Nonetheless, she refused to apologize to our one and only elected president.
This week’s Bonior-McDermott Prize went to an actor named Woody Harrelson, who in the foreign enemy press denounced his country for not being as committed to drug-addled pro-Saddam coolness as he’s claims to be. In the British Guardian, he wrote, “We’ve killed a million Iraqis since the start of the Gulf war — mostly by blocking humanitarian aid.” To think that back in the Vietnam days the Woodys of the West used to charge the Pentagon was inflating body counts. Woody Harrelson is appearing on stage in London these days. Wouldn’t it be something if he changed his first name to Rex?
More controversial was last Monday’s performance by San Francisco footballer Terrell Owens, who after scoring a touchdown pulled a pen out of his sock to autograph and give away the football he had carried with him into the end zone. How does one run with a pen pressed against one’s ankle? And why hasn’t the pen’s maker signed Owens to an endorsement deal?
During this commercial break, it came to us: There is a way to settle the question of Carter vs. Clinton. Let’s ask the New York Times for guidance. Sure enough, in Friday’s lead editorial it provides a magic formula. In response to the North Korea unpleasantness, it writes: “there is no single approach to foreign affairs.” How true. There’s the Carter approach. Then there’s the Clinton approach. We’ve achieved diversity. And thanks to the N.Y. Times editorial page editor, Gail Collins, we’ve found our Enemy of the Week. And Ms. Collins happens to be a woman. That’s almost more diversity than we can stand.