As the British used to say: “The King is dead, long live the King.”
Yes, they’ve killed Saddam, a figure who faded curiously fast both from history and from any relevance to the maelstrom that currently is Iraq. And doubtless Tony Snow will sally forth with some chortling statement about how the U.S. has made one step for freedom, one small step for human kind. But it will be irrelevant, just as Saddam himself became irrelevant almost from the moment he was toppled. It is both curious and tragic that just as the former tyrant has faded from the stage of history, so the U.S. has faded as a decisive player in Iraq. We no longer matter there. If our troops are there insurgents would just as soon kill them. But when our troops are gone they will move on and kill some other perceived ethnic or religious enemy. They are now just thugs with a grievance and the means to express it through acts of torture and murder. We are mere foils or props for their rage.
And we should make no mistake. Saddam’s death by now is a mere irrelevancy. What is far more telling and important is the tyrants in waiting in their hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands whom we are creating with our hateful policies throughout the world, but especially in the Mideast.
And while we’re talking about bad guys, thanks to Jason Truesdell for pointing me to this terrific find from TPMuckraker. CNN interviewed Homeland Security Advisor Frances Fragos Townsend. Its White House correspondent, Ed Henry, posed to her the eternal nagging Osama question:
HENRY: You know, going back to September 2001, the president said, dead or alive, we’re going to get him. Still don’t have him. I know you are saying there’s successes on the war on terror, and there have been. That’s a failure.
That matter has been raised a million times or more and always answered in the same dull, unresponsive way. But Townsend, to her questionable credit, put a whole new spin on it with her highly “creative” answer:
TOWNSEND: Well, I’m not sure — it’s a success that hasn’t occurred yet. I don’t know that I view that as a failure.
Yes indeed. We may not have gotten Osama yet. But that’s no failure. It’s merely a success waiting to happen. That’s deep, mighty deep. I think even old Kant would have trouble parsing that one. Or as Jason wrote me: “I thought Orwell was supposed to be a warning, not a source of inspiration.”
For some odd reason, it brought to mind an old Jewish joke about a Jew who reads in the paper about the huge lottery jackpot. He begins thinking about all the wonderful good deeds he can perform for his synagogue and the community with his winnings. But each week he looks for the winner’s name and it isn’t his. Finally, in frustration he cries out to God: “Lord, I only wanted this for You. Why have you denied me?” A startled and put-out God replies: “Itzik, buy a ticket.”
The problem with the Bushites is that they refuse to buy a ticket or even play by the rules. Rather, they make up the rules and expect reality will conform with them. To their chagrin, reality has stopped conforming to their expectations making for very messy times.