A right wing pal of mine went to a Saturday night dinner party at the home of a VIJ — Very Important Journalist. One of the other guests insisted that the Iraqi operation was ‘a s— sandwich’ because we haven’t caught Saddam. My friend’s husband, no dove he, was laughing when he got her up at six on Sunday morning. As Paul Bremer put it: We got him! What a difference a day makes. The sight of the man responsible for 400,000 mass graves in his own country being checked for lice has got to be the best footage of 20003. It ranks right up there with the shot of Elian being carried away by the feds, but this is a happy picture.

No, it’s not over, but this is a great day. Winners: Obviously, the Iraqi people and President Bush. Bush was charming noting that this is ‘an enchanting day for the Iraqi people,’ who celebrated by shooting guns. (Fertile recruiting ground for the NRA?) It’s also an enchanting day for Bush. Of course, it doesn’t assure reelection, but it helps. Lincoln almost lost re-election, but a string of opportune Union victories saved his presidency. (By the way, anybody out there think that that unpopular, elective war wasn’t a just war?) The election is nearly a year away, and there will be more casualties, but we’re clearly winning now.

Losers: No, it wasn’t Howard Dean. It’s John Kerry — as usual. If Kerry hadn’t spent the last few months running from and ‘splaining his vote to authorize the use of force in Iraqi, this could have been a shinning moment for him. He might have had the stature to stop the Dean juggernaut. But no way. On this day of days, he was all over the talk shows, criticizing the president. He sounded political and cheap, calling Saddam’s capture ‘a magnificent moment to shift gears and get it right.’ This guy really, really has a tin ear. So do those who think it’s now time to place a conciliatory phone call to Jacques Chirac. Hey, guys, we’re winning. Without the frogs.

It’s also time to do a reality check on who we’re fighting in Iraq. Media types like the terms ‘the insurgents’ or ‘the resistance.’ That sounds faintly noble. Jim Hoagland, for my money, provided the best commentary on these thugs earlier this month in the Washington Post. The murderous band of Iraqi dead enders who’re using terrorist tactics against the coalition forces want to regain their privileges. If you follow the money, Hoagland said, you can tell what they’re really about, and it’s not pretty. The headline on Hoagland’s piece: ‘Entitlement Fantasies Drive Insurgents.’ It’s worth rereading.

By the way, I support spending as much money as is needed in Iraq — every dollar spent in Iraq is a dollar not spent fostering more government dependency in the United States.