Jewish World Review Jan. 29, 2003 / 26 Shevat, 5763
Who is President Bush's stupidest opponent: Saddam Hussein or Tom Daschle?
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | I think I read in a fortune cookie once that "He who has foolish enemies possesses the Mandate of Heaven." In that sense, President Bush is twice blessed. I'm not sure who is President Bush's stupidest opponent: Saddam Hussein or Tom Daschle.
Of course, a powerful case can be made for Saddam, whose career-long fetishistic love affair with weapons of mass destruction exposed him to potential oblivion whenever a United States president should come along with the clarity of vision and guts to call him on it. Now that George W. Bush is in the White House, Saddam's fatal hour is upon him. With even Hans Blix and Colin Powell now beating the drums of war, we shall see if the Assyrian dunderhead is capable of giving up his toxic dreams and accepting exile. But like the poor devils who feel compelled to seek the deadly AIDS infection, Saddam has probably eroticized possession of the deadly weapons, and is likely to stand his ground and draw his terminal breath in the next month or two -- perhaps on the Ides of March.
But a persuasive case also can be made for Senator Tom "I-don't-have-the-guts-to-run-for-president" Daschle being the more politically stupid. At least Saddam has the excuse of being an insane megalomaniac. Senator Daschle, to all appearances, is not possessed of any urges more deranged than to occasionally wear a pink tie (which I thought looked rather nice on him). Like the rest of us in town, he is just another chap trying to maneuver through the marble corridors of power to a point of some prominence. The trouble is, he tends to walk into walls, rather than through doors. He hit one of those walls earlier this week.
On Monday, the Democrats sent out their leaders -- Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Daschle -- to take a couple of shots at the president the day before his State of the Union Address to the nation. They unloaded with both corks of their over-under popgun. Grandma Pelosi (she has repeatedly called herself just an Italian grandmother) let loose with a few unremarkable comments about the constraints of a wartime budget. But Senator Daschle -- with his unerring sense of bad timing -- chose to express his doubts that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction on the day that Hans Blix reported that 6,500 bombs containing 1,000 tons of chemical agents, several thousand medium-range guided missiles and large quantities of biological weapons material were missing from Saddam's audited arsenal. Worse for Sen. Daschle, the Washington Post published on its front page, above the fold, Bob Woodward's report that evidence of weapons concealment will soon be made public. Also in the news yesterday was the announcement from Moscow that in light of the Blix report, Russia is changing its stance and may well join the United States in supporting war against Saddam.
But perhaps saddest of all for the senator was his inexplicable charge that President Bush suffers from a credibility gap: "History is full of politicians whose rhetoric is out of step with reality, who promises something and then fail to deliver ... (Americans hear) mixed signals from the White House on everything from the economy to Iraq to North Korea. They sense indecision ... "
This from a senator who: 1) voted to authorize war with Iraq but now opposes it; 2) opposed Bush's Homeland Security bill and then voted for it; 3) said he was planning to run for president and then changed his mind; and 4) opposed Bush's tax cuts, but refused to vote to repeal them.
On the other hand, President Bush has consistently pushed for tax cuts as his cure for the economy starting during the election campaign and as recently as last night, and continues to push and pull the world toward his Iraq policy. He has been accused of being a cowboy, of being unilateralist, of standing against the world.
Of all the charges Sen. Daschle might plausibly have put at the feet of the president, indecision and inconstancy are the two least credible. A political charge -- whether true or not -- should at least seem plausible. No president in living memory has been more forthright than George Bush.
And no opposition party leader has been a more useful foil for a president than Tom Daschle.
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