Get a grip: Too many tears are being shed for Saddam Hussein. So what if he was taunted as he prepared to meet the man downstairs? Claudia Rossett (the intrepid reporter who had the details of the Saddam-U.N. oil for food scandal while other scribblers were averting their eyes from the mess) notes:
“In the short time since Saddam Hussein went to the gallows, we have heard almost every variation on the theme that his death was all wrong. He was killed too soon, in the wrong way, by the wrong people, on the wrong day, following a flawed trial. In the opinion of some, he shouldn’t have been executed at all.
“What’s really wrong here is the transmogrification of Hussein into a sort of Everyman, in whose fate we are all invited to read some portion of our own humanity – and whose execution becomes a prism through which to focus on our private preoccupations with the universe. This is Oprah for tyrants. In a dangerous world, it does us no service.
“Unfortunately, the debate now going on suggests we may not so readily be serious again. The likes of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syria’s Bashar Assad, and Osama bin Laden must be tuning in right now with fascination. What we might regard as noble and sensitive discussion, they will read, correctly, as weakness – a sign that the free world has no stomach for this fight.”
Columnist Debra Saunders also has dry eyes:
“Within hours of Saddam Hussein’s hanging, the drumbeat began — as cable-news sages pronounced that the Iraqi scourge’s execution will not improve the situation in Iraq. Or, as Newsweek intoned, ‘Little is gained by Saddam’s demise.’
“These days, the first rule of war coverage is that nothing — not even military victory — will improve Iraq’s prospects.
“The second rule is that everything is botched. So Hussein’s trial was not fair, the appeals process was too swift and the execution was insufficiently solemn.
“In the 24-hour news cycle, you can kill your own citizens with impunity, subject them to starvation and lead them into an avoidable war. But, if later you are brought to justice, coverage of your trial will be not so much about the carnage as about the ‘deeply-flawed’ trial.”
Saunders says that the chattering classes would have preferred the “slothfulness of a California death-penalty appeal” to dispatch the dictator:
“Indeed, critics are so busy trying to transform Iraqi prosecutions into an O.J. Simpson trial that they fail to notice that the families of Kurds and Shiites who were tortured and murdered for rebelling against Hussein now know that the Butcher of Baghdad can no longer hurt them. That?s why there was dancing in Dearborn, Mich., home to a large community of Iraqi Americans who fled their homeland while under Hussein’s rule. Hussein cannot come back, as he did in 1963 after he fled to Syria and Egypt. He will never terrorize his countrymen again. He will hold no more power on this earth. Somehow, that’s no biggie.”