Politics & Policy

A Purple-Fingered Day in The Sun, &C.

Well, the Iraqi people have had another day in the sun–another day on which they received a smidgeon of the world’s attention, and maybe some of its respect. On all the other days, the insurgents–the terrorists, the life-ruiners–get the lion’s share of attention. The Iraqis had a big day last January, when they held their first vote; they had another one in October; and they had yesterday. Oh, the sight of those purple fingers, thrust in the air! And did you see the voters who went to the polls wrapped in the Iraqi flag?

Too bad Arabs–just about unique among the world’s people–have no interest in freedom or self-rule.

I loved the “one jubilant Shiite voter in Baghdad,” as the AP put it, who “proudly displayed all ten of his fingers stained with ink.”

As you know, the Sunnis got into the game, having seen where it was headed. I wish to introduce you to Yahya Abdul-Jalil, a Sunni lawyer in Ramadi, quoted in that same AP story. He said, “I came here and voted in order to prove that Sunnis are not a minority in this country.” Oh, really? That would have been a neat trick! He continued, “We lost a lot during the last elections, but this time we will take our normal and key role in leading this country.”

Ah, what an attitude. I will say again what I’ve said before: The Sunnis of Iraq are the world’s most pampered minority.

And here’s a missive from one of our Army officers in Iraq, forwarded to me by a reader:

“Just a quick election note. On October 15 a little over 8,000 Iraqis voted in western Abu Ghraib. Today over 32,000 voted. What a statement! It will take time and a lot more work, but certainly democracy is taking root in Iraq. God bless America and the U.S. soldiers, and God bless Iraq.”

He signed it, “Proudly serving …”

Okay, the Iraqis have had their third day. Now the media can get back to what they cherish: Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, 16 words, U.S. torture, “Bush lied,” etc.

And be sure not to listen to the victims’ testimony in the Saddam trial. That would really bug you.

‐People have asked, What would victory mean in Iraq? What would constitute victory? President Bush provided an answer:

“Victory will be achieved by meeting certain objectives: when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq’s democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can protect their own people, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot attacks against our country. These objectives–not timetables set by politicians in Washington–will drive our force levels in Iraq.”

Got that? You may not like it–you may think it’s unconscionable–but it’s clear.

And here comes Sen. Russ Feingold (D., Wis.), saying, “The American public, the Iraqi people, and our brave troops still don’t have any clarity about the U.S. military mission in Iraq.”

Oh, come off it. Conservatives are supposed to respect Feingold–and, to a degree, I do–but this is ridiculous.

‐The EU is now getting tough with Iran, such as it can. Why? Because the Iranian president has made some intemperate statements about wiping Israel off the map and the Holocaust’s being a myth.

But why should that change Europe’s stance on nuclear weapons? The Iranians–certainly the mullahs–have always wanted to wipe Israel off the map, and always pointed to it. And the mullahs–like probably a majority of Middle Easterners–have always denied the Holocaust!

What does that have to do with the price of eggs? What does that have to do with the EU and Iran?

But, look–whatever can stiffen Europe’s spine is okay by me.

As I said in my Impromptus yesterday, the Iranian president’s comments have been absolutely de rigueur–standard in the Middle East. Unremarkable.

In my late-high-school and early-college years–before I sort of woke up–I was a good little anti-Israel Arabist. I would often hear, “It was Europeans who carried out the Holocaust–why should Palestinians have to suffer for it? Let the Europeans provide a Jewish homeland!” I’m ashamed to think I might have mouthed that line myself, so stupid and propagandized was I.

And you recall what I wrote from Salzburg last summer–that a German lady, seated next to a friend of mine at a gala dinner, said, “Why does Israel have to exist?” and “Can’t the Jews go to Uganda?”

Anyway …

‐Little story from Reuters: “Two German women have been arrested for giving a Hitler salute and singing a neo-Nazi song to foreign tourists on their way to Germany’s Sachsenhausen concentration-camp museum, prosecutors said Thursday.” Charming. And the offenders in question? One 18-year-old woman and one 19-year-old woman, “who were under the influence of alcohol at the time.”

Ah, yes, alcohol! Cause and excuse of everything!

‐Here is GWB on Cheney, from whom he’s supposed to be distanced (and, for all I know, he is–I’m just printing the quote): “The truth of the matter is that our relationship hasn’t changed hardly at all. The good thing about Dick Cheney is when he discusses a topic with me and he gives me his advice, I never read about it in the newspaper the next day, and that is why our relationship is so close and his advice is so valued.”

I was particularly struck by that last part.

And did you hear him on DeLay? Asked whether the Texan will return to the congressional leadership, Bush answered, “I hope that he will, ’cause I like him, and plus, when he’s over there, we get our votes through the House.”

That’s our Bush.

‐In America, everything turns racial, and the racialization of Hurricane Katrina was one of the sickest things about that tragic event. So we should be especially interested in this story, from CNSNews.com, and highlighted by The Drudge Report:

Statistics released by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals suggest that fewer than half of the victims of Hurricane Katrina were black, and that whites died at the highest rate of all races in New Orleans.

Liberals in the aftermath of the storm were quick to allege that the Bush administration delayed its response to the catastrophe because most of the victims were black.

Yeah, no sh**.

I doubt these findings will get much play, nationally, because the Legend of Katrina is already established, and that legend says: Blacks suffered the most, and the Bush administration didn’t care, because blacks are black. I regard a concern for racial stats as part of the American sickness–but as long as every event is going to be racialized, it’s better to have facts than myths, allegations, and hurtfulness.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be Americans, or even people?

‐Mike Wallace, the 60 Minutes guy: personally, lovely and fun (a great teaser); politically–ugh, what a lefty. Just awful.

Here he is in a recent interview, on what he’d ask Bush if he had the chance: “What in the world prepared you to be the commander in chief of the largest superpower in the world? In your background, Mr. President, you apparently were incurious. You didn’t want to travel. You knew very little about the military … The governor of Texas doesn’t have the kind of power that some governors have … Why do you think they nominated you? … Do you think that has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up?”

I have quoted the Boston Globe. Or rather, I have quoted The Hotline’s quoting of the Globe.

Let’s just take the line that goes, “You knew very little about the military.” Oh? What does Mike Wallace know? What do I know? George W. Bush flew F-102s, repeatedly. Has Wallace? Have I? I wouldn’t even ride as a passenger in one. (I don’t know if that plane can accommodate a passenger–that’s how little I know.)

I have a question of my own: Does the fact that someone so bitterly partisan as Mike Wallace can rise to the heights of American journalism have anything to do with the fact that our country is so [expletive] up?

‐Bill Proxmire–the former senator from Wisconsin–has died, and I remember him for two things, chiefly: first, his Golden Fleece award, by which he made fun of ridiculous federal expenditure. (But he defended dairy price supports well on television.) And second, his jogging. He was a big, big runner, logging mile after mile, in D.C. and elsewhere. I remember seeing him sweating, in the sun, when I was an intern on Capitol Hill. He’d smile that bright smile at you. It was hard to dislike him, and lots of Republicans in Wisconsin voted for him too. (He was a Dem–an old-school Dem.)

Neat guy, Bill Proxmire.

‐A little music criticism, from the New York Sun? Just one review today–of the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Christian Zacharias (who also served as piano soloist). Here.

‐Had lots of e-mails on my item yesterday about that book on East Germany: the one that says that East Germany was not a totalitarian state–that’s too “simplistic”–but a “participatory dictatorship.” One reader said, “Ah, ‘participatory dictatorship’! I think I’ll tell my daughter that that explains her band director.”

‐Another reader took me to task for a sentence I wrote. I’d said, “Okay, I’m holding in my hands a new book, about East Germany.” He wrote, “One surmises that you type with your feet, or perhaps your nose.”

Good one.

‐And remember that letter about the couple who bought a bed with their tax-rebate check? They fondly call it their “George W. Bush bed.”

Well, another reader writes,


The converse of the “George W. Bush bed” is a fixture in our home we call the “Al Gore toilet.” It’s the worthless, low-flow style of toilet advocated and legislated by the former senator and veep. Every member of the household holds him personally responsible when it fails in its duty.

Glad to know it!

Have a great weekend, cool ones.


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