Jewish World Review July 24, 2003 / 24 Tamuz, 5763
A Few Thoughts on the News
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | 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.)
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.
Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
07/10/03: How To Win By Losing: It's much smarter to let this one go