Saddam Hussein’s death is still being steadf­stly ignored by every­one in the White House — a telling and con­tin­u­ing silence. The rest of the world, how­ever, is com­ment­ing on it.

News organs from Japan to Germany, from the UK to the US, are talk­ing about Hussein’s final moments and the more-​​or-​​less restrained, even dig­ni­fied way this man went, open-​​eyed and upright, to his own killing.

Months before, Hussein urged in a let­ter to Iraqis not to hate, not to carry grudges.

Now I’m not going to try to say Hussein was a good guy. He wasn’t. He was a killer, and it was prob­a­bly fair that he was brought to trial for com­mit­ting crimes against his peo­ple — even though his depo­si­tion was vio­lent and the result of the US inva­sion of his sov­er­eign nation, imposed by exter­nal force rather than brought about by inter­nal revolution.

I vac­il­late pretty reg­u­larly on cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment; on the one hand I real­ize it doesn’t really accom­plish any­thing, but on the other I believe there are some peo­ple who are so vile and detestable that they’ve given up the right to any claim of being human.

I’m not sure if Hussein fell into that cat­e­gory or not, so I’m not sure how I feel about the death sen­tence handed down to him, nor that it was car­ried out. In light of the re-​​sentencing of the Tripoli Six to death, and given the unde­ni­able fact that Bush has com­mit­ted crimes against Islam for which he could also be sen­tenced to death, I won­der. Is cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment always valid? Certainly not. Is it some­thing that might even be sub­ject to rel­a­tiv­ity? I think surely. Is it, there­fore, some­thing we should apply with extreme caution?

But what trou­bles me most is the way that the killing of Hussein was rushed to meet a hol­i­day dead­line — both in Iraq and, as a dif­fer­ent hol­i­day, in much of the rest of the world. On the Iraq front, no one wanted to offend anyone’s cel­e­bra­tion of an Iraqi day of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion; else­where no one wanted a downer to dis­tract from the New Year party.

The other trou­bling thing, I sup­pose, is the way Hussein car­ried him­self to the gal­lows. Compare his courage to the way the ousted Republicans, now in the minor­ity, are behav­ing — they aren’t dead and aren’t likely to be any time soon, but the whin­ing, infight­ing and com­plain­ing are already scal­ing up.

Contrast the behav­ior of Dick Cheney with that of Saddam Hussein. Look at the way one of them foments fear, mis­trust and anguish, even though he’s essen­tially been in con­trol for more than half a decade, while the other, on his way to die, man­aged not to utter a sin­gle word of denounce­ment toward the nation that had, in essence, betrayed him.

Compare the Bush White House and its secre­tive­ness, its recal­ci­trance, its unwill­ing­ness to hold itself account­able for any of its deeds to the way it’s urgently tried to expose the wrong­do­ing of other admin­is­tra­tions — and is even now behav­ing with bel­liger­ence toward a democratically-​​elected major­ity oppo­si­tion party, one put in power by an elec­torate clearly sick of Bushian shenanigans.

Faced only with a minor change in power, one that reflects the will of the American peo­ple, Il Duce and his cronies are soil­ing their dia­pers. So much for the dig­nity and respectabil­ity of the Office of the President of the United States. So much for deco­rum. So much for national honor and pride.

One can only won­der how they’d behave in the face of a noose.


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