Jewish World Review March 12, 2003/ 8 Adar II 5763

MUGGER

MUGGER
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Measuring Saddam's Coffin
And Dominique de Villepin's party is about to fizzle


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | 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.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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.

MUGGER Archives

© 2002, Russ Smith