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Sunday, July 27, 2003

Mark Steyn: "Bush playing his cards right in Iraq"

I love reading Mark Steyn. I didn't realize how crazy I felt, til I read this and felt a regained sanity afterwards . . . if you know what I mean.

You should read it all at the Chicago Sun-Times, but if you're in a rush, here's the conclusion:
So suppose there's another firefight and they pull his mustache from the rubble? What's Tom Daschle going to say then? Right now, of the 55 faces on the Iraq's Most Wanted playing cards, the Americans have killed or captured 37. Democrats, by contrast, have yoked their fate to bad news. So they need to ask themselves, realistically, how much is likely to show up. Will significant numbers of Iraqi moppets die from cholera? No. Will the Kurds secede, thereby provoking Turkish intervention? No. Will Iranian-backed Islamists seize Iran? No. Will small numbers of Iraqi moppets die from cholera? No. OK, very very small numbers? Not enough.

On the other hand, will the Niger uranium story be proved true? Quite possibly, but who cares? Will Saddam be tracked down as his sons were? Very possibly. Will the military nab another 10 playing card dudes? That's almost certain. You got to know when to fold. This week, Bush's two aces beat the Dems' Niger joker. That's the way it's always going to go.

Bill Clinton got it right. Democrats need to move on. If they're still droning on about Niger on the day Rummy's passing out souvenir vials of Saddam's DNA, they'll be heading for oblivion. Clinton's approach is all the more lethal because it doesn't seem so: You can't beat Bush on the war, so you neutralize his advantage on the issue by taking it out of contention. You'll appear sympathetic, generous, bipartisan, and mature; the war will be bored off the front pages; and you can fight the election on more favorable terrain on which the public's never really cared for Bush. Whether or not the Clinton tack would work, the Dean-Chomsky-BBC-French strategy never will. When the last Baghdad supporter of Odai and Qusai sounds like Howard Dean's running mate, you know you're off the map.