Meddling in Iraq

     Republicans, including the Bush administration, are 
now accusing Iran of "meddling in Iraq." When I first 
heard this expression I laughed. Was it meant as a joke? 
How could it be serious?

     Consider: The United States has invaded two 
countries on the other side of the globe, Iraq and 
Afghanistan, overthrowing their governments. This isn't 
meddling? But when the very large country between them, 
threatened with the same treatment, reacts, very 
naturally and predictably, by fighting the invaders, we 
should be surprised and feel menaced?

     What on earth did we expect?

     Almost unbelievably, it appears that the 
administration, far from being chastened by the compound 
disasters of Iraq, is planning to launch an attack on 
Iran. If this weren't being intelligently argued with 
ample evidence by excellent reporters in such reputable 
magazines as NEWSWEEK and VANITY FAIR, who cite 
authoritative sources and diehard neoconservative 
advocates of such an attack, I would dismiss the whole 
idea as too insane to credit.

     It's terrifying. How could it happen? War on Iran 
and chaos in the Middle East have been the neocons' 
ultimate goals for a long time, and the Bush team still 
seems to be listening to them -- or simply obeying them.

     This is a real conspiracy against American interests 
that no longer really bothers concealing itself -- and is 
publicly led by the president of the United States.

Obama and Honest Abe

     Barack Obama has finally ("finally" by the weird 
standards of today's interminable presidential races, 
anyway) formally announced his candidacy for the monarchy 
we call the American presidency.

     With none-too-subtle symbolism, he did so in 
Springfield, Illinois, just before Abraham Lincoln's 
birthday. Springfield is of course the state capital 
where Lincoln also launched his presidential campaign. 
This young man needs a history lesson.

     Before we get carried away by the parallels with the 
Great Emancipator, we should recall that Lincoln 
emphatically opposed social and political equality for 
the Negro. He professed "disgust" for racial 
intermarriage, and he endorsed Illinois's Black Code, 
which banned Negroes from voting, serving on juries, or 
testifying against whites.

     Lincoln often referred to the American Negro as "the 
African" -- he would have thought the phrase "African 
American" a contradiction in terms -- and though he 
condemned slavery in principle, that is far from the 
whole story and still misleads the naive.

     Lincoln passionately favored colonizing free 
Negroes, "with their consent," outside the United States. 
In his 1862 State of the Union message he asked Congress 
for a constitutional amendment authorizing a federal 
program to achieve this.

     His ideal was what would now be called grand 
apartheid: "I cannot make it better known than it already 
is," he said, "that I strongly favor colonization." He 
made no effort to conceal or disguise this fact; that has 
been left to his modern admirers, who rarely mention it.

     This is still one of the most diligently evaded 
facts of American history, along with Lincoln's brutal 
suppression of dissent in the North. But the record is 

     Lincoln was willing to live with slavery, and said 
in his first inaugural speech that he would support an 
amendment protecting it -- forever! -- where it already 
existed. Real abolitionists despised him, and it's no 
wonder Frederick Douglass called him "pre-eminently the 
white man's president." He opposed slavery more for the 
sake of white laborers than blacks. And he actually 
doubted his authority to free slaves, which he at last 
did very reluctantly.

     So Lincoln was what today's liberals would call a 
racist, a white supremacist, and a segregationist -- 
anything but a champion of "diversity."

     A President Barack Obama was not at all what he had 
in mind.


     After a long winter weekend trying to get news out 
of my television, I finally resigned myself to the grim 
truth that the American news media are less interested in 
the Iraq war, the presidential race, and the astronaut 
love triangle than in who is the father -- or "biological 
father," as we now say -- of Anna Nicole Smith's baby.

     All the resources of investigative journalism are 
being employed to find the answer. I never quite expected 
the Information Age to culminate in this. The child does 
not seem to realize that she has suddenly become one of 
America's foremost celebrities.

     According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one of every 17 
Americans is now a celebrity. Most of these are rap 
artists. Why Anna Nicole herself achieved celebrity is 
not entirely clear, though she once appeared in a film 
with O.J. Simpson. One thing is certain: She managed to 
redefine widowhood in our time. It would be hard to find 
a more spectacular widow.

     A friend of hers, speaking to THE WASHINGTON POST, 
explained the key to her character: "She just wanted to 
be a mom." Her rather roundabout quest for maternal 
status included getting silicone implants, becoming 
Playmate of the Year, marrying (and not marrying) various 
men, and other maneuvers.

     And now, incredibly, slurs are being cast on her 

     Fascinating though all this no doubt is, perhaps we 
should be at least equally curious about the paternity of 
Mary Cheney's baby. It seems to me a little more 
significant. Anna Nicole's child may have been somewhat 
irregular -- illegitimate, to put it quaintly -- but 
whoever begot her apparently did so the old-fashioned 
way. Anna Nicole needed no recourse to such desperately 
unnatural measures as artificial insemination.

     Be that as it may, something about Anna Nicole -- 
some indefinable, intangible quality -- has always caused 
people to lose their sense of proportion. Not that this 
country ever had one to speak of. But Anna Nicole Smith, 
more vividly than any other woman, exemplified the 
difference between being female and being feminine.

                 +          +          +                  

     "Isn't the U.S. government today exactly what the 
U.S. Constitution was supposed to prevent?" Regime Change 
Begins at Home -- a new selection of my Confessions of a 
Reactionary Utopian -- will provoke thoughts and smiles. 
We'll send you a free copy if you subscribe to SOBRAN'S 
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                                        --- Joseph Sobran


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