This and This and This and That

John Kerry: You know, a quip that requires a half hour of set up and 72 hours of explanation–it ain’t a quip. Please: Go away, dismal man. Let us remember you as you were in your finest hour: Conceding defeat.

Cruz Bustamante: It’s flattering to California voters that the first words out of your mouth in your campaign spots are, “I was really fat.” Yes, if you don’t live here, you’re missing a real treat: A career pol–he’s a Democrat, for the record–term limited out of his spot at the trough (lieutenant governor) and snuffling and snarfling his way toward another (state insurance commissioner). How ironic to compare him to a swine swilling down slops, because he’s basing his appeal to voters on the fact he went on a diet and lost 70 pounds. It all connects with his hunger to serve the public because he says he promised his family he’d lose the weight, and he did; and now, he’s promising to help us all get cheaper insurance–and he’ll keep that promise, too. If the Republican in the race–Steve Poizner–is not a serial murderer, I may vote for him. (One of the Bustamante ads, on YouTube, is below).

And then there’s David Brooks: His op-ed column in today’s New York Times (you’ve got to be a paid subscriber to get it online, so no link). This former gung-ho Iraq war supporter decides, three years, 7 months, and 14 days into the enterprise (not that anyone’s counting) that it might be a good idea to study up on the history of Iraq to see whether it offers any clues about the challenges the project poses. And–zounds!–it does:

“Policy makers are again considering fundamental chnges in our Iraq poliicy, but as they do I hope they read Elie Dedourie’s essay, ‘The Kingdom of Iraq: A Retrospect.’

“Kedourie, a Baghdad-born Jew, published the essay in 1970. It’s a history of the regime the British helped establish over 80 years ago, but it captures an idea that is truer now than ever: Disorder is endemic to Iraq. Today’s crisis is not three years old. It’s worse now, but the crisis is perpetual. This is a bomb of a nation.”

Later, Brooks quotes Kedourie’s view of the nation’s political future: “‘Either the country would be plunged into chaos or its population should become universally the clients and dependents of an omnipotent but capricious and unstable government.’ There is, he wrote, no third alternative.”

“An omnipotent but capricious and unstable government.” Saddam, anyone?

Despite the finality of Kedourie’s view, Brooks complacently describes the alternatives he sees open to the United States now. Make one last effort to pacify Baghdad–thus, he apparently believes, pouring oil on the restive countryside. Acknowledging that probably won’t pan out, he says Iraq ought to cease to exist.

“It will be time to effectively end Iraq, with a remaining fig-leaf central government or not. It will be time to radically diffuse authority down to the only communities that are viable–the clan, tribe or sect.”

But guess what? Brooks says we’ll still be there–apparently forever. Our “muscular presence” will be needed to “nurture civilized democratic societies that reject extremism and terror.” Uh, yeah, just what the doctor ordered: Having the troops referee the contest among the clans, tribes and sects. Someone needs to give Brooks something else to read to give him a clue about how that’s turning out.

(He might start in his own paper, which features a front-page story today on a combat medic and one of his patients, “Tending a Fallen Marine, with Skill, Prayer and Fury.”

“Petty Officer [Dustin] Kirby, 22, is a Navy corpsman, the trauma medic assigned to Second Mobile Assault Platoon of Weapons Company, Second Battalion, Eighth Marines. Everyone calls him Doc. He had just finished treating a marine who had been shot by an Iraqi sniper.

“ ‘It was 7.62 millimeter,’ he continued. ‘Armor piercing.’

“He reached into his pocket and retrieved the bullet, which he had found. ‘The impact with the Kevlar stopped most of it,’ he said. ‘But it tore through, hit his head, went through and came out.’

“He put the bullet in his breast pocket, to give to an intelligence team later. Sweat kept rolling off his face, mixed with tears. His voice was almost cracking, but he managed to control it and keep it deep. ‘When I got there, there wasn’t much I could do,’ he said.

“Then he nodded. He seemed to be talking to himself. ‘I kept him breathing,’ he said.”

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One Reply to “This and This and This and That”

  1. Cruz…Very funny commercial. If it looks as though it will work…go for it.
    Brooks…yeah, I read that. It was kind of fascinating, this guy writing in 1970, kind of fortelling the rise of Saddam. Maybe–someday–the great dictator’s people will be look back upon him with fondness, as a kind of Mesopotamian Ben Franklin who brought a period of relative prosperity and enlightenment before the Bush years.
    And Brooks was really a rah-rah type for the war in 2002-03 (along with the Times’s William Safire…what is he thinking these days?) going to the mat for the man from Crawford. But these guys, like the president, are unwilling to wager their own kin on the outcome of the project. If it isn’t good enough for them it isn’t good enough for mine.
    Hey, their man bet the ranch on this endeavor and by all indications, he done lost.

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