Crazy Old Wizard

Saddam KenobiThere’s something pathetic and familiar about the way Saddam Hussein looked when he was captured this weekend by coalition troops. It took me all day to figure it out, but I finally realized that, in that gray beard, nappy hairdo and especially those disheveled robes, he reminds me of ‘old Ben Kenobi,’ living like a hermit somewhere in the treacherous, dry hills of Tatooine. There’s nothing nearly as benign about this murderous former dictator, though, and for the fact that his capture will provide a more definitive kind of closure to Iraqis, this turn of events strikes me as significant, and in a storybook fashion, a real triumph of justice. On the other hand, I am bracing myself for the political ramifications, the trickery that the Bush administration will undoubtedly employ in order to reap the benefits of this big win, and the confused, panicked scurrying among Democratic contenders for the Presidential nomination as they try to make sense of their diminishing chances in 2004.



  1. Put away your partisanship for a moment and realize that Bush will not need to resort to “trickery” to “reap the benefits of this big win”. The majority of the American people are smart enough to see this for what it is – a great accomplishment by a strong leader.

  2. I can only assume that your statement is in part a reference to my initial comment. Therefore, if you wish to label me a conservative, that is your right; however uninformed it may be.

  3. Bush’s “big win” comes at a good time for him; perhaps too good. It would not surprise me if they caught him long ago, held him, grew out his beard, and finally on December 14 unveiled him in a carefully orchestrated and well-scripted presentation.

    Furthermore, if Bush resorted to trickery to win the first election, why would he not resort to trickery to win the second?

  4. Conrad, as I mentioned to Khoi…if it suits your needs to call me a conservative, go right ahead. I don’t mind. Pity you couldn’t just ask me what stripe I am before making your judgment – and it is a judgment, isn’t it Conrad? I can assure you there’s more to the political landscape than your liberal/conservative labels.

    But let’s be constructive. Conrad, why don’t you fill me in on what your definition of a conservative is. (Khoi, feel free to chime in here.) While you’re at it, tell me what you deem a liberal to be. In turn, I’ll tell you whether I fit into either of your categories.

    And it’s Raphy, not Ralphy.

    Matthew…actually it was a Jewish plot initiated by Ariel Sharon and carried out by the Mossad. Even better, no?

  5. I spoke out of turn. I didn’t mean to call anyone a conservative who didn’t want to be labeled one. I shouldn’t throw that term around so recklessly. I don’t wish to offend anyone with it. Seriously, I’m happy to have anyone posting here, whether or not they disagree with me!

    For myself, I am an unabashed liberal and I think Bush is hardly a ‘strong leader’ but a real criminal, and I think history will judge him as such. That said, I’m not so sure I agree with Matthew about the conspiracy or trickery in revealing Saddam’s capture at such an opportune time.

    Regardless of the White House’s agenda and their absolute dedication to subverting rules of conduct in order to achieve political gains, I honestly can’t believe even their will power can overcome the occupation’s very desperate need to stop the killing of coalition troops. Upon capturing Saddam, among the first thoughts through the minds of every top-ranking official — no matter how mercenary they might be — had to be the realization and/or hope that this was the best opportunity yet to undermine the morale of Baathist loyalists throughout Iraq.

    To put it more simply, capturing Saddam meant (hopefully) saving American lives in a very real, immediate way, and not even the Bush administration could put that aside for political gain. Whether this turn of events actually helps put a halt to the killing remains to be seen.

    When I said trickery, I meant this: portraying Saddam’s capture as some bold stroke of leadership and genius, and an event of significant relevance to the security of this country. By now, it’s pretty apparent there were no WMDs and probably no connection to 9/11, and yet Bush has turned the very real horrors of Saddam against his own people into some vague, uninformed stand-in for the crimes of Osama Bin Laden. It’s a charade, just like virtually all of the man’s presidency.

    Lastly, I’m disappointed that no one was impressed by my Ben Kenobi remark!

  6. Yes, Raphy, I am indeed judging you, and there is nothing wrong with that. I have no desire to ask you “what stripe you are before making a judgement.” You are defined by your actions, not by your view of yourself. With that in mind I find it a bit ridiculous to have you tell me whether or not you fit into “my categories” based on how you see yourself.

    If Bush were to come on television tell us he’s a jewish pacifist would he really be a Jewish pacifist? Not until he recalls his soldiers and starts eating challah on Shabbat.

    Regardless of all this, however, you cannot deny that a couple of strangers immidiately saw you as a conservative based on your statements, frankly because I think most conservatives would agree with your views on the Bush/Hussein issue.

    But please, change my mind. I am very interested in finding out how you classify yourself politically.

  7. I have no doubt that those who hate Bush the most will do their best to ensure that his legacy is that of a criminal. However, a competing legacy will be that of the great liberator of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq from their respective dictatorial leadership.

    Additionally, the establishment of a viable democracy in the heart of the Middle East could mean the beginning a new age in that region of the world, not to mention a real opportunity to end the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

    Time will tell which legacy wins in the end.

    I wouldn’t be so quick to say there were no WMDs. We all know that there were in fact WMDs in Saddam’s possession. He used them after all. Now that he has been captured it is likely much new information will come to light, not only from the mouth of Saddam, but from all those who’ve been afraid to speak for fear of fatal reprisals.

    Finally, the capture of Saddam was indeed a bold stroke of leadership. If not for Bush’s determination in the face of severe criticism, Saddam would still be in power and the Iraqi people would continue to suffer.

    The disappointment of his capture, and the rise of conspiracy theories by many on the left reveals their true feelings – their hatred of Bush is more powerful than their compassion for those who suffer.

    It was Jose Ramos-Horta, one of the leaders of the struggle for independence of East Timor, who said while looking on the anti-war protesters: ‘Why did I not see one single banner or hear one speech calling for the end of human rights abuses in Iraq, the removal of the dictator and freedom for the Iraqis and the Kurdish people?’

  8. In response to Conrad – Yes, it is wrong to judge someone based upon little or no knowledge of their “actions”- it’s called prejudice.

    Your Bush-the-Jewish-pacifist analogy is absurd.

    As to your hostility towards me, I find it difficult to rationalize.

  9. Predjudice, Raphy? I think you misread my post entirely. I am judging you on how you presented yourself. I find your name-calling rather petty and trite.

    And hostility? Please.

    And though I do disagree with most of your post explaining your political views on the Bush/Kenobi matter, despite some fallacies, it was well articulated. Thank you for elaborating your view on the matter.

  10. Yes, prejudice, i.e. : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.

    I got the meaning of your post loud and clear. If you think you can make a judgment about me, about everything I think and stand for, and place me in a tidy category (with a big C on my chest), based upon the two sentences of my first post to this thread…

    “Put away your partisanship for a moment and realize that Bush will not need to resort to “trickery” to “reap the benefits of this big win”. The majority of the American people are smart enough to see this for what it is – a great accomplishment by a strong leader.”

    …you’re either an oracle or a fool. I’d say it’s the latter.

  11. Okay, Raphy, let’s look at Vinh’s original comments and compare them with yours. First of all, he acknowledges that Saddam was a “murderous dictator” and describes his capture as a “triumph of justice.”
    I assume you agree with the description of Saddam’s capture as a “big win” and also that you have no objections to Bush and company “reaping the benefits” thereof.
    Vinh also takes note of the “confused, panicked Democratic contenders for the Presidential nomination as they try to make sense of their diminishing chances in 2004”.
    That’s not a terribly flattering description is it? Hardly “partisan”.
    So your only objection is the term “trickery”.
    Is this such a stretch? The secret of magic tricks is to make the audience look at what you want them to look at–which is precisely what any sane politician does when there’s something he can plausibly claim credit for.
    “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, don’t mess with Mr. In-Between”.

    Apropos of the original post, a more appropriate fictional character than Obi-Wan Kenobi would be Harry Lyme from the movie “The Third Man”.
    Rent the film to see what I mean.

Thank you! Your remarks have been sent to Khoi.