- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2003

Which Jack?

Is Howard Dean the latest incarnation of Jack Nicholson or is George W. Bush? It’s strange that political commentators seem to gravitate toward Nicholson-metaphors in the looming presidential election. The question, of course, is which Jack? New York Times columnist Tom Friedman likens the president’s invasion of Iraq to Mr. Nicholson in “The Shining.” This is consistent with Mr. Friedman’s admirable attempt to support the war while not alienating his Upper West Side constituency.

Here’s the key image: “As Ms. Duvall cowers behind the locked bathroom door, Mr. Nicholson takes an ax, smashes it through the door, and with a look of cheery madness peers through the splintered wood and announces, ‘Heeeere’s Johnny.’ That’s the U.S. invasion of Iraq.”

Ooohhh-kaay. Or is Dr. Dean the wild man of Hollywood. Meanwhile, The Washington Post quoted a Republican operative, likening the bantam rooster from Vermont to Mr. Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men:” “When he’s being questioned, he gets redder and redder, like his head is exploding, and then he blurts out, ‘You can’t handle the truth.’ Dean is just exactly like that. I see it written all over him.”

Maybe they’re both right — and this election is going to be a political version of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

The framing of Yee

The case that Muslim military chaplain James Yee was a spy for Syria or anyone else at Guantanamo Bay has been falling apart. It’s not even clear that the documents he was carrying — the original basis for the espionage charge — were in any way classified. For this, Mr. Yee was put in solitary confinement for three months. Worse, the military — having failed to make their case — subsequently used their search warrant to reveal an extra-marital affair by Mr. Yee and are now prosecuting him under military law for this indiscretion.

This is called a bait-and-switch. The trial has now been suspended because the prosecution cannot prove the classification of the documents in question. This seems to me to be a text-book case of military abuse of basic standards of fairness. A Muslim-American, who may well be completely innocent of all espionage charges, may now face years in jail for having an affair. And he may be punished primarily so that the military can save face because it brought false charges of de facto treason against him.

We’ll see how this case progresses, but, from the evidence so far, it seems a travesty of justice to me.

Where was Lieberman?

Here’s the weirdest statement I’ve heard in a long while: “I was caught completely off-guard. Al Gore has endorsed someone here who has taken positions diametrically opposite [of the former vice president]. What really bothers me is that Al is supporting a candidate who is so fundamentally opposed to the basic transformation that Bill Clinton brought to this party in 1992.”

These were the words this week of Sen. Joseph Lieberman. You have to wonder: Did Lieberman listen to his running mate in 2000? From the convention onward, Al Gore remade himself as a left-wing populist. He renounced his previous positions in one bold stroke, making it impossible for people like me to support him. (I know it may sound hard to believe but in the spring of 2000, I fully expected to support Mr. Gore, if John McCain didn’t win the nomination. The far-left Gore convention speech ended that particular aspiration.)

Mr. Lieberman is either incredibly naive or was completely deceived three years ago. And he did his own major switcheroo on the issues last time as well. To my mind, the Gore candidacy was the beginning of the Democratic swing to the left. Mr. Dean is merely the natural progression. Dean-Gore is the left-wing synthesis. Only Hillary Clinton can stop them now.

Reuters watch

This is yet another classic from the antiwar Reuters news-agency: “Militants ship a nuclear bomb into a U.S. port and ravage an entire city. More than the plot of a Tom Clancy thriller, it is the ultimate nightmare for many U.S. officials, ports and businesses.” So even if the, er, “militants” detonate a nuke against civilians, they’re still not “terrorists.” What do they have to do to get some respect around here?

Quote of the week

“I am not trying to say that [the Americans] are angels! They have their interests; they came to Iraq for that reason, not to free the Iraqis. But the fruit is, in fact, liberation.” — Chaldean Bishop, Louis Sako of Kirkuk, speaking to an Italian journalist.

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