Jewish World Review April 10, 2003 / 8 Nisan, 5763

Bob Tyrrell

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Baghdad Bob and Tom Daschle


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Have you seen the April 7 issue of Time magazine? It appears that last week the Coalition of the Willing lost the war -- and to Iraq, not to the Red Army, not to the Wehrmacht, not Napoleon's Grand Army, but to Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard.

After a more careful reading of the magazine's coverage of the war, it appears that our forces had not by the end of the week completely lost the war, but they had come very close. Consider these headlines from Time. "BEST-LAID PLANS The Iraqi army has been neither shocked nor awed. What the allies missed and how they missed it." "GLOBAL AGENDA: Guerrilla warfare is a part of America's past -- and its future." And I especially like this headline, "DIFFERENT EYES Arab networks like al-Jazeera are giving their viewers a look at the war that American TV doesn't show." At least that headline is accurate.

How are we to explain Time's defeatism just a few days after the mightiest army on earth, having traveled half way around the world, began decimating a force roughly equivalent to Mussolini's with some upgrades for the modern era? My conclusion is that Time's editors and reporters had suffered from too much exposure to Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf. Surely you know who I mean. Al-Sahhaf is the bespectacled Iraqi minister of information who, clad in a green military uniform and wearing a black military beret, tirelessly appears before the Western press corps to assure its members that Saddam has everything well in hand.

The coalition was in complete control of the skies. Its soldiers, as the phrase has it, "owned the night." Its armor was rushing at top speed toward Baghdad. Yet, said the imperturbable al-Sahhaf, "The infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds on the gates of Baghdad." A few days after Time had just about given up on our fancy army with its "Shock and Awe" bluster, the coalition was announcing the capture of the Baghdad airport, but al-Sahhaf said not to worry. Iraq, he cooed, had taken the airport back with "a very innovative way of war."

If my memory serves me well, it was the same "way of war" that Saddam used in 1991, namely the Bull's-Eye Strategy. According to the Bull's-Eye Strategy, Iraq's army is to present itself as a bull's eye to invaders until the invaders give up from sheer boredom or from having no more Iraqi targets to destroy.

Lately, Western viewers of al-Sahhaf's press briefings have begun to wonder about his grasp on reality. As American forces sped on from the well-secured airport and into the streets of Baghdad, the pompous know-it-all under the black beret was insisting, "We have defeated them, in fact we have crushed them in the place of Saddam International Airport," which by then was no longer even known as Saddam International Airport.

And I do admire the sheer poetry of this line, "As our leader Saddam Hussein said, 'God is grilling their stomachs in hell.'" Stomach might well be an Iraqi adoption of one of Jacques Chirac's haute cuisine dishes.

Obviously, al-Sahhaf is an intense partisan. His partisanship drives him into fantasy, making him somewhat the joke figure. By now, even the editors of Time must be laughing. As I listened to his poetizing this past week, I thought to myself of who might be the American equivalents of such a man? My candidate is Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

He has said things in public that reveal a certain detachment from terra firma. Just the other day, columnist Lloyd Grove described a Washington party given by Daschle for author David Brock and the paperback edition of his book, "Blinded by the Right."

In the book, Brock admits to having lied about people and blackmailed some. Beyond admitting to being a liar, he has been accused of being one, of writing a mendacious book and of betraying confidences. Yet he is a propounder of the theory that a "conspiracy" has laid low the Democratic Party. Thus Daschle co-hosts Brock's party, and at it he said: "I really admire David Brock. ... His book was given to me by President Clinton. He gave me his own copy -- which was underlined, circled,and dog-eared."

Apparently, the Boy President told Daschle, "You have got to read this book." Added Daschle: "It was the best advice he's given me in at least a couple of years. We thank David for his contribution and hope to see more from him."

Equally important, "To any Republicans out there: If you are willing to disavow your past and change your ways, we'll throw a party for you as well." I would have thought that a joke, but the other co-host, Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid, D-Nev., chimed in emotively, "David, you've given us inspiration to fight -- and fighting we are. And I think you'll see a new Democratic Party in the future."

So maybe al-Sahhaf can skip a career change back to the United Nations or to Harvard and go directly to the Democratic National Committee, with the like-minded rhetorician Daschle and the aspiring Reid, whom I had once thought sane.

I have for decades wondered what might be the liberal equivalent of the John Birch Society. With Daschle's emotional efflorescence, I have now found it complete with martyred patriot and all-embracing conspiracy. The liberal equivalent of the John Birch Society is Daschle's national Democratic Party, devoted to the resuscitation of Bill Clinton and David Brock. In all of American history, there is no precedent to such lunacy within a national political party.

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JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

03/31/03: When the media itself becomes the story
03/20/03: Revealed! Estrada is a gifted linguist -- a Japanese-American fluent in Spanish
03/14/03: Genuinely in charge
03/10/03: Stalin and Saddam
03/05/03: They just cannot stomach a protracted alliance with the Bushies
02/25/03: Identity gridlock
02/18/03: People calling Dean a fruitcake are underestimating his political savvy
02/13/03: The new political establishment
01/30/03: The time is now
01/27/03: Witnessing self-love by people completely incapable of self-criticism
01/21/03: Of course our kiddies are depressed
01/13/03: Why is it that Official Washington still believes that a tax reduction means a revenue reduction?
01/02/03: Missing Moi
12/27/02: The grizzled and menacing-looking senator in Confederate drag is a Dem
12/24/02: Uprooting Christianity in the Holy Land
12/20/02: Under fire, Lott showed an ignobleness that is embarrassing
11/26/02: Bartley's enemies have been routed
11/14/02: Clarence Thomas and the segregationist Mississippi sheriff
11/07/02: I muffed up
10/31/02: Is the American university turning its back on change, on progress?
10/24/02: So why aren't the Dems buoyant?
10/17/02: Mourning the loss of the "yellow-belly"
10/10/02: American politics at its most ignominious
10/03/02: A man above the law, a bully
09/26/02: Is Bob Greene a victim of an anti-Clinton backlash?
09/19/02: I knew Mafiosi and
09/12/02: Chickens and poseurs
09/05/02: Sympathizing with the Europols
08/29/02: 9-11 did not change us forever
08/22/02: Public persons frivoling with serious matters
08/15/02: Beachcombing among the fat of the land
08/08/02: They pave the way for corruption, not personal responsibility
08/01/02: Believing the unbelievable
07/25/02: The congressional posse comitatus
07/18/02: Cosmopolitan Arab fashion
07/11/02: What the prez actually knows
07/04/02: The vindication of a truly original thinker
06/27/02: The perfect book for Hillary
06/20/02: To say that they were ordinary is not to slight them
06/13/02: Daschle must begin to act like an adult
06/06/02: Lack of "intelligence" --- and sheer stupidity
05/30/02: Revealing a carefully guarded media secret
05/23/02: In these times, thank Heaven for Clinton!
05/16/02: Fast Times at the Church of the Nativity
05/09/02: "Name the Prettiest Suicide Bomber"
05/02/02: Vindication for the Boy Scouts
04/25/02: A topic almost no other columnist will touch
04/18/02: 'Conventional Wisdom' --- and those who defy it
04/11/02: Let the Sun shine in
04/05/02: Hooded men of color in sheets
04/01/02: A McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood
03/21/02: Yakkin' on Yates
03/15/02: No role for Paul Volcker in Enron: the movie
03/07/02: My membership in the Communist Party U.S.A.
02/27/02: This award is bestowed by 'contrarians'
02/21/02: Mike Tyson: Made for Washington?
02/14/02: Enron as underdog?
02/07/02: Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad
01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies . Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
01/24/02: Hucksters will move on to make their next marks
01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
01/10/02: Move over Twinkies --- "the acne medicine made him do it!"
01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
11/29/01: Welcome to Afghan, Maryland?
11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
11/15/01: America's quagmire and other certainties
11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
08/16/01: They claim to be doing so much good
08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The Godphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate