Jewish World Review March 12, 2003/ 8 Adar II 5763
Measuring Saddam's Coffin …
And Dominique de Villepin's party is about to fizzle
A problem common to political bloggers is that they often scoot to the
keyboards without adequate time for reflection. Andrew Sullivan is, on the
whole, a sensible and smart writer, but his paragraph on President Bush's
press conference last Thursday night, posted just hours after it was
completed, was way off the mark. While it's true that newspaper reporters
filed their stories in a similar amount of time, at least they have editors
(and factcheckers), for better or worse, to offer a second opinion.
Sullivan lamented that Bush "looked and sounded exhausted," "wiped" and
almost "seemed catatonic with fatigue." Obviously, the president and his
advisers have a more taxing job than journalists, but surely Sullivan isn't
naive enough to believe that Bush would be in pep-rally mode. He's about to
declare war on Iraq, against a blizzard of domestic and international
protest, and it would've been weird if his mood was upbeat. The instant
analysis concluded: "This press conference struck me as a mistake. He looked
drained, wan, exhausted from this interminable diplomatic process. He seemed
defeated to me-and the U.N. has effectively defeated him and protected
Saddam. But not for too much longer."
In reality, Bush's decision to take questions from a mostly skeptical
press corps, eager to trip him up, was a necessity ahead of Hans Blix's
selective report to the United Nations the following day. (Why did the
Swedish bureaucrat bury evidence, as reported by James Bone in London's
Times, that Iraq possesses an undeclared drone that's equipped to spray
regional neighbors with chemical and biological weapons?)
And if the president's answers were repetitious and subdued (which
caused Maureen Dowd and Washington Post tv critic Tom Shales to speculate he
was medicated), he hardly gave the impression of a "defeated" man. Rather,
by insisting that the U.N. Security Council muster the guts to declare their
intentions on yet another resolution-and let history record the vote-Bush
explicitly said the United States would proceed with its invasion plans
regardless of France's grandstanding. Calling Saddam Hussein a "cancer," the
most compelling argument Bush made was that unlike European nations, the
U.S. is, post-9/11, now a battlefield.
What's more galling than Sullivan's well-intentioned, if egregiously
incorrect opinion, is the mainstream media's nearly unanimous declaration
that Bush is "rushing" to war and has made a hash of foreign diplomacy. It's
the middle of March, more than a year after the president made his prophetic
"Axis of Evil" speech. He went to the U.N. to present his case, sought and
received congressional approval and has allowed the charade of Blix's
inspections to continue for far too long.
A compelling argument can be advanced that Bush made too many
concessions last fall to appease squeamish "allies" and Democrats. Had
Saddam been deposed already, North Korea wouldn't have had the opportunity
to threaten nuclear blackmail. Yet Bush accommodated the State Dept. and the
U.N. in an effort to gain as much international support as possible. That
the unanimous Security Council decision in 2002 to enforce Resolution 1441
has fallen apart says more about the gross negligence of the U.N., an
antiquated institution that long ago lost its relevance, as Bill Clinton
found out (but won't admit today) during the Kosovo intervention in 1999.
That Colin Powell and Dominique de Villepin are courting Guinea as if she
were a prom queen demonstrates just how pathetic the body is.
And don't even
get me started about Kofi Annan or the Pope.
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JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press (www.nypress.com). Send your comments to him by clicking here.
© 2002, Russ Smith