The statue of Saddam that clanged down onto the stones of Baghdad looked familiar to anyone whos studied Soviet iconography - which of course Saddam did. The hand-waving-to-the-masses is an ambiguous gesture; it recognizes the masses, but does not salute them. He points to the sky, but theres something about that pose that says youd damn well better be looking at him, not where hes pointing.
A friend who spent a lot of time in the USSR referred to this genre of statuary as The Great Leader Hails a Cab.
You hope Saddams alive to see this, to see the hailstorm of footwear, the burly men taking sledgehammers to his statues polished podium, to see the American flag draped over his cruel empty mug. That last point was one of the more remarkable moments today - the soldier put the flag over Saddams iron face, then removed it and replaced it with the old Iraqi flag. Its a potent message. A show of power, then a show of respect. Our flag first; your flag for ever after. Dont forget how the latter was made possible by the former.
You will, of course, but thats how it goes. We look forward to your Nay vote on our resolution in the League of Democracies Security Council 58 years from today.
Can you imagine the parties in Baghdad this week? Hospitals had best make a rubber stamp that says GEORGE, because nine months from now theyre going to use it on every other birth certificate.
If all goes well. Which it wont. The Fog of Peace comes next; we will hear many stories of Setbacks and Troubling Developments and Roadblocks to Peace and the rest of the vocabulary the media deploys when a brutalized nation is freed from jail and does not immediately assume the characteristics of a Nebraska small-town school board. Well hear of many babies thrown out with the Baath water, in other words. Today at the Pentagon press briefing, a reporter asked about Humanitarian Crisis, and Rumsfeld described at great length the humanitarian crisis that existed before the Allies got there, and how things were actually improving. It was classic Rummy; he not only refused to accept the premise of the question, he refuted it like a blacksmith working out marital frustrations on a red-hot horseshoe. You can just imagine what some of the reporters say to one another as they leave the briefing:
I say, whats that in your hands, there? That pink thing?
Oh, this? Its my ass. Rumsfeld handed it to me. And I see you have a nice clock there - brand new?
No, its quite old, but Rumsfeld cleaned it. Free of charge.
The media should poke and carp and needle the military; its their job. Its instructive on many levels. But just dont forget this day: liberation. Freedom. All of a sudden, in a day, a guy can look at a car battery without crossing his legs. Its just a car battery now. Its just something you curse when it dies. Bring out the satellite dishes; uncork the hooch; smoke em if you got em, yawp at the moon. Revel & enjoy.
Im not stupid enough to think that weve just created a nation of 22 million wannabe Americans. But tonight parents can look down at their children in bed and believe they will have better lives. Not just hope for it, but believe it. Some of us call that the American Dream - hold the scare quotes, please - and we pray for the day when its no longer an American concept but a universal birthright.
Whatever you think we should do to get to that point, you have to admit that the sound of a cast-iron skull striking the pavement is a good way to start. And if you dont its because you see some other false god on the podium, pointing at an empty heaven.
Men never seem taller than when they stand next to the prone remainders of a toppled tyrant. Someone someday will do a study of the statues the West pulled down. How they all showed a hard face to the dawn. How they all fell face first.
Other than that, a difficult day. Personal highlight: listening to Hugh Hewitt tonight. He was interviewing Victor Davis Hanson, military historian and long-view essayist extraordinare. Hugh had quote two Bleats this week, and I was delighted to be quoted on a show that also had VDH as a guest. It almost made us . . . lung buddies. (Sorry; Achewood reference.) (Which you should get! Read Achewood!) As the interview wound down, Hewitt threw out a quote from one of my Bleats and asked VDH if he agreed. Ohhhhh, MAN. If he says no, I will - not - live - this down. I mean, these things are just rambling babble banged out at the kitchen table at midnight; I come up with an aphorism, read it to the dog - he doesnt seem to argue. Up it goes on the website, off to bed, ZZZZ. Now to my horror its presented to VDH for approval. (He agreed with the point. I rule! Football-spiking gesture.)
But its all tempered by Gnats bout with something-or-other. She had a fever last night, bounced back like a superball today, but got hot again tonight. Not a happy little girl. Still my Gnat - sweet and kind, but sick. Horrible week - Pink eye, ear infection, daycare trauma to the nose and tongue, and perhaps allergies as well; shes been blinking in a way that made us wonder whether she had some sort of odd tic, but tonight her eyes just went overboard with redness and rheum and she blinked like a busted traffic light, so its probably not a blinking disorder. Its been a rough patch.
On the other hand: today she said she was tired of playing the Mr. Potato Head game. She pushed the eject button, removed the CD, took another CD out of its case, pushed the drawer shut, clicked on the discs icon, then clicked on the program icon. Two and a half years old.
You watch news, she said. I play game.
Hard to argue. So we did just that.