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The Hanging Man

underlining the Bush incompetencies

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, January 03, 2007.

I’ve never been to a hanging or execution. At my age, it would have been possible for me to have attended any number of hangings in my own country - in the South especially - but circumstance worked against my presence and I always missed them, thank God and generally by the skin of my teeth. A special shout out here to my parents for granting me great speed afoot in my youth. But this Christmas season, I saw a hanging. We all did. Admit it, you voyeuristic sickos.

Among the many, many examples of world class, letter sweater incompetence under George Bush, the execution of Saddam Hussein by a recently empowered street gang of pseudo-religious thugs may top them all and be the most damaging. As displayed to the world by a cell phone held by a high ranking officer of the Iraqi government, it managed to make a great villain look dignified and superior to the rabble about him. Certainly superior to the government man with the camera. Christian saints may not have been so composed and centered as Saddam Hussein at the gallows.Worse, the final shot of Saddam in death made him look, well, beatific near smile, a sweet expression on a face just subjected to a broken neck and instant death. If this were a video of a Christian missionary executed by al Quada, you could easily imagine the fodder for idiots like Pat Robertson, Fox News, and Pope Ratzo the former Nazi Youth.

Bush was in a bind. No doubt, he wanted Hussein to be tried for the other crimes, but he could not risk Hussein being lost in an exchange of prisoners if Sunnis captured a thousand Shiites or, far worse, if insurgents rescued him by force from American keeping. Given how the war was going, speed was of the essence, and because it was handled so poorly, and because his own military is right on the verge of calling him incompetent since they don’t have Rumsfeld to blame, anymore, and a former CIA chief running the Pentagon isn’t altogether to their liking, Bush had to obtain this one bauble from the fiasco.

Bush alone allowed this to happen, and cheerfully allowed mere Cabinet Secretaries to shoulder the blame. Their excesses only reflect his weakness as a leader, and all this was symbolized by the inadvertent elevation of Saddam Hussein in death. This could not have been worse.

Saddam is now a martyr for the Sunni thugs; even his enemies have to be impressed with his demeanor. In history, he will slowly have his undoubted horrors shed from his resume until he is only recalled for that single crime for which he was hung. That almost certainly is happening in Iraq already, especially in Sunni neighborhoods. People who feared and hated Saddam in power may find it convenient and safe to express respect for him in death, and unify disparate Sunnis fearful of the majority Shiites.

In short, this was the cherry on the upside down cake of misery Bush baked for Iraq and ourselves in his physical lust to be seen as a historic figure and war leader. Bush has managed to make Saddam look good. Relatively speaking, of course, but good none the less.

And it is therefore convenient to bring forth the concept of capital punishment again. The new Secretary General of the UN is a South Korean, and he said yesterday that nations ought to decide on their own about the death penalty, a grand step away from the UN’s previously professed opinion. Was more good obtained by hanging Saddam?Or would keeping him alive and talking in prison garb as the world moves on without him keep, as Dickens might say, if not Christmas, perspective and justice well?

These are questions for people more competent and less dependent on elevation by inheritance, family, or brief media moment. Face it, the Republicans have as their foremost candidates to be Bush’s successor the following: John McCain, a pedestrian Senator whose accomplishments are of no interest nor likely to have occurred absent being a POW. Rudi Giuliani, whose hedonistic hypocrisy in his private life, his near police state mentality and his affection for the criminal Bernie Kerick are set aside because of his gravitas and dignity after 9-11.While the GOP accuses the Democrats of Hollywood and un-American delusions, it’s the GOP who believes most deeply in showbiz and fiction. As such, watching the recent hanging, they had to have known their failure. It’s Reagan’s gift to them, and they want that Christmas of ponies and patriarchy forever, not the recent holiday featuring an evil event Bush had to have initially imagined would set the world applauding him.

As it is, I’d imagine most of us can do no more than mutter, ‘hope it hurt’ to the man on the rope. And mean it.