Bickersons at Saddam’s Palace

ANNOUNCER: Don Ameche and Frances Langford as John and Blanche Bickerson in “The Honeymoon is Over.”


ANNOUNCER: The Bickersons are discussing vacation plans in bed. It’s 3 o’clock in the morning and Mrs. Bickerson is still holding out for “Paris in Springtime” . Poor husband George, victim of “raucous insomnia” or “Whimper’s Malady” is holding out for their originally booked Baghdad tour. The argument reaches a climax during an acute attack of his strange ailment, inarticulateness. Listen.

“The Bickersons”, a 1940’s radio show whose name became synonymous with marital discord, was a little before my time. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the War In Iraq is a little before George’s time.

We tuned in to part of Chris Matthew’s Hardball political talk show this morning, and I must say I was disappointed. The show is much more incisive on Saturday Night Live.

Nobody can agree on anything: France, Germany, and Russia are in their “we’re holding our breath until our face turns blue” mode. Tony Blair is “in Dutch” with his own country’s people for the Pollyanna-ish belief that the free world is fundamentally capable of dealing forcefully with tyrants. We’re meeting in the Azores with Tony Blair and our only other current ally, Spain. Imagine that. Spain hasn’t made a global statement since the Conquistadors decimated the Yucatan. Wait until the Al Quada propagandists figure that out!

As I wrote in September, it’s all about timing, attitude, image and more timing. I don’t think anybody at all, even the Iraqis themselves, think that President-For-Life Hussein is the good guy in this debacle. How we managed to completely alienate such a consensus, even with the Bickersons as head spokespeople, will be a head-scratcher for decades to come.

Yet nobody, except the Kurds (who know better) have trouble sleeping at night because they know Uncle Saddam is gonna git them. Bush is on a holy war, all right; he just grabbed hold of the wrong one.

No matter what we do now, we’re wrong. We’ve invested something like $100 billion to bring a quarter of a million troops to combat readiness in Kuwait. Though I confess it would bring me some measure of personal satisfaction to see Saddam ousted, no one sees what’s in it for the Iraqis, and I don’t think $100 billion more in reparations will make it better, but, maybe, worse.

For my money, let’s cut our losses, pull out our troops, invest the savings in the economy, and maybe figure out how to deal with the REAL lunatics in the bin Laden organization and North Korea. Loss of face? Heck no, we already lost that. What to tell the world? Tell them the ball’s in their court now:

“You know, Chirac was right. We’re SO grateful he helped us see the light. We’re going home now, secure in the knowledge that the fate of the Middle East lies in the gentle hands of the U.N., NATO and all our other allies who saw in time the folly of our heavy-handed ways.”

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