And It's Just That Easy
Oh, sorry, sir, I didn't mean to--Say, aren't you . . . ?
11:00 PM, Dec 14, 2003 • By LARRY MILLER
AH, SADDAM, SADDAM, SADDAM. What has it all come to, eh, my friend? All those palaces, all those solid gold toilets, all those deliciously terrified looks in people's eyes. All that hard work, and you just wind up looking like Jerry Garcia after a show.
(By the way, I love Garcia. No kidding. I was a Deadhead from the first day Hamilton played them for me in school, and I always will be. It was The Dead and Zappa for me, no one else. In fact, my honors thesis was on Zappa. I was a music major, and my cum laude title was, "A Harmonic And Motivic Analysis Of Frank Zappa." For the record, and for reasons that were not entirely inexplicable, the music department did not award "laude," and I said, "Lordy!" But never mind that now.)
Most important aspect of Hussein's capture: Could you grow a beard like that in seven months? I don't think I could. I mean, you've got to hand it to him: A full head of black hair, and he looks like Aristotle in a week. Don't get me wrong, the guy's up there (or down there) with the worst humans in history, and a few minutes after dying I think he's going to be having conversations like, "So you're saying the poker goes in another inch every year? Wow, and I thought the 'no virgins' thing was bad news." But he sure can grow some hair.
Well, the Army did a great job--again--and that goes for all the folks over there. I remember my dad and me watching a New York City detective talking about a case on TV years ago, and my dad saying, "See? Good police work sometimes means just going inch by inch as long as it takes." Remember how they finally zeroed in on the Son of Sam? One cop looked through every parking ticket in three or four states. Our soldiers are charitable when they can be and persistent when they need to be. And deadly when they have to be.
And now, a quick word on pronouns. In conversations after the news broke, did you say, "They got him," or "We got him"? I think people who said "they" are detached and give credit grudgingly. Saying "we" is more involved, more grateful. As long as you don't go too far, of course, and think you're now part of the operation. This would make you a lunatic, like the guys who shout "We won!" after their home teams win something. These men need to be held firmly by the shoulders and told, "You've won nothing. You need a stadium full of therapists. Perhaps a hobby would be good, stamps or coins. Absent that, you should be drugged and sequestered."
I think two men are very unhappy about Saddam's capture: Howard Dean and Scott Peterson.
Now that we have the living version of that toppled statue, Mr. Dean (Why does everyone keep calling him "Doctor" even if he is one?) is going to sooner or later have to answer three questions.
One, since you were against the war from the start, is it better for Planet Earth that Hussein is out, and we have him? Two, if it is, how would you have accomplished that end if you were president? Wishing real hard? And three, do you buy all those shirts with the sleeves already rolled up, or do you have to do it yourself?
Scott Peterson probably soiled one of his zillion dollar suits when Mr. Puffy Eyes was gently led away and checked for lice. Why? If America thinks Saddam's trial is interesting enough for the next couple of years, and Scott's TV profile starts to drop, a jury of his peers might just pop out of the tabloid ether long enough to deaden that vicious and self-absorbed smile of his. That would put a little blond back in his hair, wouldn't it? (To be fair to Mr. Peterson, he might be innocent. On the other hand, oh, please.)
I hate to sound cynical, but to paraphrase the reflections of a great salesman: No one ever went broke overestimating the capacity of the American people for 24-hour coverage of show trials.
Of course, many events will flow from this capture, revealing themselves as they will. But at this moment in the history of the world and the war, having had the chance to see Saddam Hussein humbled like this, I can't help looking at that twisted soul, so weighted down with the darkest of sins, and thinking of the wisdom that begins "What profiteth a man . . ." You know the one, don't you? "What profiteth a man if he gains the world, but loses the Kingdom of Heaven?"
We will all have our report cards read some day, and even the best of us--and I'm certainly counting on being in that group--will have a lot to answer for. On that day it won't avail us much to grin nervously and say, "Yeah, but did you see that terrific house I built? What about all the cars I had? I hope you have that down there, too." What profiteth a man, indeed.