One or two a day
Few tears will be shed for Uday and Qusay, the brothers grim. But whether their deserved demise will quell rebellious Baathists in Iraq remains to be seen, particularly with their father still at large. With any luck, the same kind of intelligence that led to the confrontation with his sons will soon bring Saddam a similar reward.
The White House needed encouraging news from Baghdad, where the combination of furious, demoralized Iraqis with weary, angry U.S. troops is becoming more dangerous every day. Accusations of deception by the Bush administration, at first dismissed by the Washington press corps, are gaining traction at the grass roots as antiwar activists press the issue. The constant killing of American soldiers is draining support from Bush precisely because people are beginning to believe that the rationale for those sacrifices was untrue.
Iraq's impact on national politics can be measured in polls -- or it can be measured by the panicky reaction of Rush Limbaugh, who feels that we shouldn't even be discussing American casualties there. After all, as the renowned radio personality and draft evader explained yesterday, the death toll among our troops isn't even comparable to the number of people we lose in other, smaller tragedies every year:
"One or two Americans a day are dying in Iraq. So why are we getting a daily Iraq death update when we don't get daily drowning death updates or fire death updates or pedestrian updates, accidents, this kind, when the numbers are clearly far greater than what is happening in Iraq?"
Over in Mosul, not far from where Saddam's heirs got waxed, the principal author of all this carnage was paying his first visit to the scene of his obsession. Paul Wolfowitz was full of happy talk about conditions in Iraq, which he declared "much better than I thought they were before I came." But he did say one other thing worth recording for posterity:
"I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq." That might even elicit a chortle from his newly acquired Boswell, Christopher Hitchens.
[4:30 p.m. PDT, July 22, 2003]