Theory of a Dead Man
Got to be an important person to be in here, honey,
Got to have done some evil deed. - Bob Dylan
An even more discouraging spectacle than George Bush's long-expected bullhorning the death sentence of Saddam Hussein is that of America's putative opposition party making a bandwagon of his tumbrel. Howard Dean hailed it as a "great verdict," adding that Hussein "is a war criminal and he's getting what he deserves." Whether that's Dean's own mind or the oversoul of the Democratic National Committee talking, it's sad to see the loss to America of a leader who could voice courageous uncertainty by saying, two weeks before Bush's "Mission Accomplished," that "We've gotten rid of [Saddam], and I suppose that's a good thing." Where'd that guy go?
And now, over Karl Rove's final 72 hours, comes word that the Republicans are "surging," just in time and against all reason. Now, it could be that late national polls showing the GOP drawing to a near-dead heat with Democrats within the margin of error actually reflect national opinion. The state of American opinion and the machinaries of its management are such that it's not inconceivable. Citizens are cheated not only on election day, but on every day of their lives by a military-entertainment complex that many have become strangers to their own best interests. One of the finest moments of Borat, and one of the reasons why Borat matters, is his address to the rodeo crowd before he butchers the national anthem. "We support your War of Terror," he declares, to thunderous applause, and elicits more with appeals to support the troops and "kill every single terrorist." And when he shouts "May George W Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child of Iraq" no change registers in their response, except for a few more delighted war whoops. (A poor quality clip, seemingly shot in a theatre over the weekend, can be viewed here.) It's only at his "desecration" of the Star Spangled Banner, in which he extolls Kazakhstan's potassium industry as the finest in Central Asia, that the spell breaks, and the audience realizes it's been had.
Saddam, like a pawn brought to self-awareness, regards the timing of his death sentence to be a political expedience to Washington, just as was his capture, overthrow, support and installation. American voters do not even have a piece on the board, though they've been taught all their lives they're the kings. What happens on Tuesday night is not as important to the United States as what happens on Wednesday morning. That it's likely to be nothing is the world's problem.