Scenario for a Comeback
December 18, 2003
Same-sex marriage remains a throbbing issue.
American politicians warn that it could undermine the family,
while in France, right-wing demagogues are saying it threatens one of
that countrys most venerable institutions, the ménage
What impact would same-sex
marriage have on the harem? The question may become urgent as
predominantly Muslim Iraq moves toward democratic elections.
The situation may be
complicated by the unexpected entry of a new candidate into the race. It
goes to show what a fast-changing world we live in.
The New York Post
reports that Saddam (Never Say Die!) Hussein has defied his
American hosts or guests, if you want to look at it that way
to go ahead and hold elections, because he will win
big if they do. He can point to an unbroken record of landslide
victories in the past, and thanks to President Bush he has gained a huge
advantage over any possible opponent in name recognition.
Most of us assumed that Saddam
was finished when he was arrested a story so sensational that it
knocked Michael Jackson off the front pages. But we were jumping to
President Bush has termed
Saddam a murderer and torturer, to which
the ex-president of Iraq might reply, Call me anything you like, as
long as you spell the name right or is that asking too
Anyway, the resilient Saddam
has already thrown his hat into the ring, or at least signaled his
availability. He is prepared to serve his country again. You have to hand it
to him. A lesser man might have thrown in the towel by now.
But if he runs for
another term, he will have to face more competition than he is used to. He
wont be able to dodge thorny issues like the same-sex harem. And,
lets face it, hell have to work on his image. He can take tips
from some of our own presidents.
First, he could grow that beard
back. After all, it worked for Lincoln. Of course his next beard will have to
be better groomed than the last one. Then he could present himself as the
New Saddam (think of the New Nixon), or (borrowing from an old foe) a
Kinder, Gentler Saddam.
If pressed to explain those
torture chambers, he could use Clinton-type phrases like time to move
on, put it behind us, and doing the job the Iraqi people
elected me to do. And lets not forget that other Clinton
stand-by, I cant remember.
Saddam could even learn
something from us newspaper columnists. Heres a trade secret: any
time you want to sound authoritative, dont say, I think
... Thats just your opinion! Begin your sentences with
Experts agree ... or Studies have shown ... These phrases tell
the audience that you are not emitting mere opinion, but adducing
scientific fact, attested by hard-headed committees of
And though no longer the
incumbent, Saddam will have another edge: he knows a lot of sensitive
secrets. Faced with an awkward question, he can avoid answering by
pleading national security. This wont sound like an
evasion, because the public will say, in the finest spirit of democracy,
Thats right! He was president for a long time! He knows lots
of things we dont know, which are none of our business! Sorry we
Dictatorships may depend on
torture chambers, but democracies run on bamboozle. Saddam will have to
make the adjustment. For a proud old man, that will be the tough part. He
cant very well call himself the Comeback Kid. Every politician has
to find the one bamboozle that works, uniquely, for him.
A good place to start would be
cyberspace. Yes, Saddam must learn to use the Internet. Its the
cheap and effective way to get your message out. Like countless others, I
have made personal contact with several former high officials of the
governments of Liberia and Nigeria without leaving my office. (I
cant disclose details, but some lucrative deals are in the works.)
But the big question remains:
Just what would Saddams message be? Only he can answer that
one. Like Ted Kennedy, like all democratic politicians, he will just have
to recall the ideals that impelled him into public service in the first