Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Perfect timing

An Iraqi court, to no one’s great surprise, has sentenced Saddam Hussein to death by hanging. A curfew, still in effect as I write this, was imposed shortly before the verdict was delivered. Violence is expected after its expiration. What a shock; violence is expected in Iraq.

Of Hussein’s multitudinous crimes, his massacre of almost 150 Shiites in the town of Dujail is the one that will end his life.  Even though I’m generally against the death penalty, I’m not an Iraqi, and, frankly, I’m finding it hard to fuss about the pending execution of such a soulless tyrant.

However, I wonder at the verdict’s timing. Like I said, it’s not exactly a shock that a government dominated by the group that suffered the worst of Saddam’s heinous brutality would decide to execute the guy. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion, even with Saddam’s frequent disruptions of the trial and the assassination of some participants. Yet the government of Iraq, which owes its very existence to U.S. political leaders, somehow decided to announce the pending execution of one of America’s main political bogeymen just two days before our elections.

Whether it will be enough to swing significant numbers of votes to the Bush-led Republican Party remains to be seen. The President has, understandably, been trumpeting the verdict as noisily as possible as he stumps for the GOP. What better distraction from growing dissatisfaction in Republican ranks and the politically disastrous editorials published recently in all four armed forces newspapers calling for the ouster of the Secretary of Defense?

For all of Mr. Bush’s political life, Saddam Hussein has been his single greatest political tool. In death, it seems, the pattern will continue. 

Jon Gold
DI columnist

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