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In Your Face, Your Holiness
April 16, 2003
By Kevin Dawson

Gloat much, America?

What fun those two good Catholic boys Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity must be having asking the Pope, "Why can't you just admit you were wrong?"

The evidence certainly speaks for itself. Jubilation. Dancing in the streets. Looting. Remarkably similar to the scenes of a week earlier, only then the Iraqis were waving photos of Saddam Hussein. Moral: pledge your loyalties to whoever has their guns pointed at you.

Speaking of the looting, Donald Rumsfeld delivered himself of the following wisdom, which the New York Times honored as its April 12 Quote for the Day: "It's untidy. And freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." I didn't know "freedom" meant the liberty to knock over a Best Buy, did you? Presumably the only problem with September 11 is that the Al Qaeda terrorists weren't really acting on their own free will, otherwise the devastation could be reclassified as so much boys-will-be-boys horseplay. Right, Rummy?

I didn't catch the president's address to the Iraqi people after the liberation. All I saw was a newspaper photo of him speaking on television, with some Arabic subtitles which were translated to me as saying: "Look, I didn't want it to come to this. No sane person wants war. That's why I patiently waited twenty whole minutes for weapons inspections to take place. Is it my fault Hans Blix couldn't find his own ass in a mirror? As my Laura always says, 'Never send a man to look for anything.' Anyway, have you folks ever heard about Jesus Christ?"

Ever heard the famous story about stage comedian Bert Lahr? In 1939 he was co-starring with Ethel Merman in a musical called "DuBarry Was a Lady," and all through rehearsals he complained to his agent, "She's got the whole show. I've got nothing." The agent kept assuring Lahr, "Stop worrying, Bert. You're going to be great." On opening night, the show ended, and Lahr was a success, earning rave reviews equal to Merman's. The agent appeared in Lahr's dressing room: "What did I tell you?" Lahr merely replied, "Yeah, but what about next year?"

So what about next year? After the apparent triumph of "Operation Shooting Fish in a Barrel," does the U.S. continue its newfound quest to liberate oppressed peoples? Condoleeza Rice has hinted at the possible compilation of a grocery list of evil dictators to deal with after Iraq's reconstruction is well underway (courtesy of the fine folk of Halliburton - by merest coincidence, Vice President Cheney's alma mater). Gee, if it only took three weeks to bring down Saddam Hussein, George Wonderful Bush should be able to have the whole world in his hands by, say, election time next year. It would be a shame to let all this crusader momentum we've got worked up just fizzle out like the Soviet Union (which toppled sans bloodshed, thank you). Besides, a perpetual "at war" condition would keep the president safe from criticism.

Speaking of good manners, would it be in terribly poor taste to speculate whether Osama bin Laden (remember him?) is holed up somewhere safe and sound and laughing his head off because - according to polls - at least half the population of this country has decided that Saddam Hussein had at least something to do with September 11 since he didn't send President Bush a sympathy card?

Or maybe we don't need to do anything right now except savor the triumph of American Might, join in on the nyah-nyah-nyah sessions the antiwar protesters - including, presumably, the Pope - have been enduring lately, and wonder who's going to play Jessica Lynch in the inevitable TV movie of her story.

As for the troops, they needn't fear the unfriendly reception the Vietnam vets got when they came home. Their grateful fellow Americans will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them... in the unemployment line.

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