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Jewish World Review July 24, 2003 / 24 Tamuz, 5763

Michael Long

Mike Long
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A Few Thoughts on the News | Two Down. Bravo for the U.S. military, the most powerful fighting force in the history of the world. As I write this, Uday and Qusay, the sons of Saddam Hussein, were killed in a firefight just hours ago. This is a great victory in bringing stability to Iraq —but let's be realistic, too: it is not a complete victory in any way. First, the two men were powerful and brutal lieutenants to Saddam, but they were not Saddam himself. Iraqis will be overjoyed at the proof of the sons' deaths, but they still know that Saddam is out there somewhere avoiding capture. The threat of his return will hang over the Iraqi people until they all know for sure he himself is dead. Second, Saddam will not likely lose heart for the fight at the death of his sons. One of them fed his victims feet-first into an industrial shredder, and cut off their feet with a power saw. The other traveled with a "rape team" to kidnap young girls to feed his sexual appetite. They learned ruthlessness at the feet of their father; it is hard to imagine Saddam shedding tears anyone but himself. There is much more fighting to come.

Wanna Change Careers? Ever imagine yourself a political operative, a DC player, a "spin doctor," out in front of the cameras on behalf of the candidate, creating your own version of the truth for the world to believe? If you ever imagined it's easy, you're right. Example: Florida Senator Bob Graham, who imagines his party could slumber so long that they might make him the Democratic nominee for President, raised a puny second-quarter $800 in South Carolina, down from $10,000 in the first quarter. (And the senator is a southerner, remember.) In North Carolina, the fading Floridian raised, well, let's look it up here, hmmm… zip. Nothing. Zero dollars. And here's how campaign spokesman Jamal Simmons explained that crash-and-burn to The Hill newspaper: "Primarily we've been focused on meeting with political leaders and trying to build a political organization in those states." It doesn't take a degree to be a spin doctor, folks. Just chutzpah.

Hussein, Again. What do you bet that the day you read this commentary, there isn't a story in close proximity about how inhumane/immoral/imperialistic it was for us to kill Saddam's lieutenant-sons? It will be interesting to see how the opposition spins this one against us. But they will. (See above.)

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Kobe Bryant accused. Somebody remind me —why is this front-page news? He plays basketball, and his case will of course affect whether or not he can play. That obvious insight should be pursued on the sports pages and nowhere else. Accusations of a crime occur every day, and that's what this is. The press wastes our time on celebrity "news," reducing all news to entertainment. (Check out the 1986 book Amusing Ourselves to Death by the (otherwise liberal) critic Neil Postman for a landmark analysis of the root problem with mass communications.)

Dems in Danger. The entirety of the race for the Democratic nomination has become a contest to bash President Bush. This makes a little sense; the run-up to the primaries requires the care and feeding of the activist base of a party. The majority of that in this case is the collection of still-sore losers over Florida, the reflexively anti-American crowd, and those whose policy interest is confined solely to the policy of tearing down George W. Bush. Candidates must steer back to the middle for the general election —it's the middle-of-the-roaders who win it or lose it for a candidate —but this crop of Democrats has become so singularly identified with the anti-Bush movement that they may forget to start shaking it off before next summer, when mainstream voters start paying attention. What's more, the nominee may be so indebted to the anti-Bush movement that he can't shift away to other issues without bringing their wrath down on him. But this is digression. Why splash water on your opponent when he's doing a good job of drowning himself on his own?

Liberia. The fact that the Liberia debate has nearly vanished from the news and editorial pages of the major dailies is a pretty good indicator that there wasn't a compelling policy reason for us to go there in the first place. Campaigns that come and go as this one did suggest coordination by groups with vested personal interests. Never mistake a good hard public relations push for individuals acting in your best interest. Happens all the time in Washington, and we may have just avoided such a pitfall. Unless we really should be in Liberia, which is another issue for another day.

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JWR contributor Michael Long is a a director of the White House Writers Group. Comment by clicking here.


07/10/03: How To Win By Losing: It's much smarter to let this one go
06/20/03: Dems turn a sensible question into pure politics
03/19/03: Another thing for Bill Clinton to Zip Up: his time, it's his mouth
02/25/03: The Cradle of Civilization, Again
01/31/03: Silencing opponents because you can
01/28/03: You can't always eat what you want ... But you still can, for a while 01/10/03: What They Believe For The Moment
12/06/02: Federal Spending: Look At It This Way … And weep
11/15/02: On the radio: What really happens behind the scenes at talk shows
11/08/02: Coming Soon: 1972
10/31/02: The Election Goes Republican: Election 2002 finds Democrats alienating nearly everyone
10/22/02: What if we never catch the terrorist-sniper?
10/04/02: A Few Thoughts On The News
09/27/02: Goodbye To All That: The terrible, wide war that must be fought
09/20/02: The Florida Lesson: We need better voters, not better machines
09/13/02: A few thoughts on the news
09/06/02: Give Them What They Want
08/13/02: The Dangerous Lull on Iraq ... And how today's delay proves why 9/11 had to happen
07/26/02: Where's Honest Debate on Judge Owen?: NOW members should demand better of President Kim Gandy
07/19/02: A Secret No One Can Keep: Why Osama bin Laden is still alive
07/09/02: Don't forget why Bush was elected
06/28/02: The bravest pop culture icon in the war on terror
06/14/02: Five Thoughts On Father's Day: Personal Stuff
06/06/02: Stay Awake, Grads, I'm Almost Done Talking: Life, and How to Live It
05/31/02: See This Movie: "The Sum of All Fears" is a wake-up call
05/24/02: Richard Simmons for President? What really motivates the fat-taxers
05/13/02: The Carnival at the FAIR: "Unbiased" acquires a new definition
04/22/02: Bottled And Sold: Economic Confidence Under a Screw-top
04/12/02: McGovern's Respectful Dissent
04/02/02: The Right to Do Wrong: The Creator, A Clockwork Orange, and war
03/26/02: The Big Story No One Talks About: Why isn't Washington serious about airport security?
03/18/02: Worlds Away: A snapshot of anti-Semitism in the Moslem world
03/08/02: The safest place in the world --- for now
03/05/02: Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others
02/22/02: And Then What?: Fear and Loathing Around the Corner
02/15/02: Al Gore and the real root cause of terrorism
02/08/02: A few thoughts on the news
02/01/02: Ready, Aim, Cloud The Issue: An irresponsible report on "terrorism" from the Brady Center
01/28/02: Discretion and Art, Part 2
01/16/02: Discretion and Art
01/08/02: Desperate Dems
12/18/01: Politics and Holidays
12/07/01: A war bigger than we know: Changing the future, slowly and surely
11/28/01: A Mid-Winter Night's Dream: A play in one fun act
11/20/01: A Lot of War Left To Fight
11/13/01: Guess who Clinton's apologizing for now: I'll bet you guessed right
11/02/01: Rules for Wartime: Rule Number One: Remember what's true
10/26/01: The Moral Case For Torture: Dirty hands don't always mean dirty souls
10/19/01: Questions for the Anti-War Crowd, Part II: What if someone took them seriously?
10/16/01: Questions for the anti-war crowd: If they question you, ask these back
10/12/01: The Jason Problem: Sometimes they only look dead
10/08/01: A little hindsight: A letter for readers in the future
09/28/01: Calling Bono: A plea to the pop culture elite to speak out
09/20/01: Encouragement from the Heartland, by mail
09/13/01: Bleeding time
09/07/01: The trailer-park taste of the public radio catalog
09/04/01: BRAVE NEW FREUD: Internet-based psychiatry may mean relief for those who have shunned treatment
08/17/01: First Amendment: Chickens home to roost
07/27/01: Dispatch From The Front: The Gun Control War
07/20/01: Summer song
07/03/01: It's a Wonderful Recount

© 2001, Michael Long