Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 29, 2003
POLITICS/WAR: Violence In Prime Time

If Bill Clinton's presidency was X-rated for explicit sexual content, last night's State of the Union Address had to be at least PG-13 for graphic violence:

The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape.

Sometimes, the truth hurts. I'm obviously familiar with all this, but for a good number of viewers at home, it must've been jarring stuff; it was good to hear it all laid out.

On Iraq, Bush made it very plain that -- unlike Ted Kennedy, who fatuously insisted in post-speech comments that inspections were working and should be given more time -- the inspections game is over, and no more stock need be put in it:

U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them. . . . The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary; he is deceiving. From intelligence sources we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the U.N. inspectors, sanitizing inspection sites and monitoring the inspectors themselves. Iraqi officials accompany the inspectors in order to intimidate witnesses. . . . Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say. Intelligence sources indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered that scientists who cooperate with U.N. inspectors in disarming Iraq will be killed, along with their families.

Saddam might be given a little more time to have a "Scrooge on Christmas morning" type conversion between now and when the Security Council, following next week's meeting, comes to a resolution (I expect it will take 2-3 weeks). But Bush finally gave away his assumption that war is coming, despite his repeated recent protests that his mind wasn't made up yet:

[A]s we and our coalition partners are doing in Afghanistan, we will bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies and freedom.

Granted, this is qualified by the prior sentence's "if war is forced upon us," but it sure sounded like the president knows this is coming now.

Other thoughts on the speech:

+Bush's delivery (I was listening on the radio) was pretty flat until he got out of the country and started talking about AIDS in Africa, blackmail in North Korea, torture chambers in Iraq and missing drums of anthrax. I didn't sense the same level of intensity when we was talking about hydrogen cars and Healthy Forests. I think the main Dem tactic - apparent in the early press reaction - will be to paint him as George H.W. II, too wrapped up in foreign affairs. That may not work, given that foreign affairs aren't so foreign anymore, but I'd have to agree that the domestic parts of the speech were clear but not that strong.

+I'm all in favor of the goals of building non-oil-powered cars and fighting AIDS in Africa, but the traditional Democratic solutions on those issues tend to be either too expensive, too burdensome on business, or just a big corporate welfare boondoggle (sometimes all three at once). I'd like to hear more on the details, like how we ensure that R&D funds on electric cars don't just wind up as a subsidy to GM, how we fight AIDS without committing to solve every disease and every problem in Africa, and what we intend to do to protect the intellectual property of US drug companies who are the Arsenal of Modern Medicine.

+No new members in the Axis, but he did spend serious time on each of the three - the Iranians were not forgotten.

+The commentators should just shut their traps; immediately after the speech, the radio people on 1010 WINS were debating the furrowment of the president's brow. Give it up.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:41 AM | Politics 2002-03 • | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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