Sobran's -- The Real News of the Month

 Scenario for a Comeback 

December 18, 2003

Same-sex marriage remains a throbbing issue. American politicians warn that it could undermine the family, while in France, right-wing demagogues are saying it threatens one of that country’s most venerable institutions, the ménage à trois.

What impact would same-sex marriage have on the harem? The question may become urgent as predominantly Muslim Iraq moves toward democratic elections.

The situation may be complicated by the unexpected entry of a new candidate into the race. It goes to show what a fast-changing world we live in.

The New York Post reports that Saddam (“Never Say Die!”) Hussein has defied his American hosts — or guests, if you want to look at it that way — to go ahead and hold elections, because he will “win big” if they do. He can point to an unbroken record of landslide victories in the past, and thanks to President Bush he has gained a huge advantage over any possible opponent in name recognition.

Most of us assumed that Saddam was finished when he was arrested — a story so sensational that it knocked Michael Jackson off the front pages. But we were jumping to conclusions.

President Bush has termed Saddam a “murderer” and “torturer,” to which the ex-president of Iraq might reply, “Call me anything you like, as long as you spell the name right — or is that asking too much?”

Anyway, the resilient Saddam has already thrown his hat into the ring, or at least signaled his availability. He is prepared to serve his country again. You have to hand it to him. A lesser man might have thrown in the towel by now.

[Breaker quote: It's not too soon!]But if he runs for another term, he will have to face more competition than he is used to. He won’t be able to dodge thorny issues like the same-sex harem. And, let’s face it, he’ll have to work on his image. He can take tips from some of our own presidents.

First, he could grow that beard back. After all, it worked for Lincoln. Of course his next beard will have to be better groomed than the last one. Then he could present himself as the New Saddam (think of the New Nixon), or (borrowing from an old foe) a Kinder, Gentler Saddam.

If pressed to explain those torture chambers, he could use Clinton-type phrases like time to move on, put it behind us, and doing the job the Iraqi people elected me to do. And let’s not forget that other Clinton stand-by, I can’t remember.

Saddam could even learn something from us newspaper columnists. Here’s a trade secret: any time you want to sound authoritative, don’t say, “I think ...” That’s just your opinion! Begin your sentences with Experts agree ... or Studies have shown ... These phrases tell the audience that you are not emitting mere opinion, but adducing scientific fact, attested by hard-headed committees of sociologists.

And though no longer the incumbent, Saddam will have another edge: he knows a lot of sensitive secrets. Faced with an awkward question, he can avoid answering by pleading “national security.” This won’t sound like an evasion, because the public will say, in the finest spirit of democracy, “That’s right! He was president for a long time! He knows lots of things we don’t know, which are none of our business! Sorry we asked!”

Dictatorships may depend on torture chambers, but democracies run on bamboozle. Saddam will have to make the adjustment. For a proud old man, that will be the tough part. He can’t very well call himself the Comeback Kid. Every politician has to find the one bamboozle that works, uniquely, for him.

A good place to start would be cyberspace. Yes, Saddam must learn to use the Internet. It’s the cheap and effective way to get your message out. Like countless others, I have made personal contact with several former high officials of the governments of Liberia and Nigeria without leaving my office. (I can’t disclose details, but some lucrative deals are in the works.)

But the big question remains: Just what would Saddam’s message be? Only he can answer that one. Like Ted Kennedy, like all democratic politicians, he will just have to recall the ideals that impelled him into public service in the first place.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2003 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
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