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Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

Meddling in Iraq

(Reprinted from the issue of February 22, 2007)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo for Meddling In IraqRepublicans, 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; Read Joe Sobran's columns the day he writes them!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 clear.

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 chastity.

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 SOBRANS for one year (at $44.95) or two ($85.00). If you have not seen my monthly newsletter yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.

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Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2007 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission

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