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October 20, 2005

Burying The Lede On Iraqi Constitution

The peace-at-any-price crowd must be at their wits' end these days. Those damnable Iraqis keep popping up like whack-a-moles, cheerfully waving those annoying purple fingers about as though they had something to celebrate.

Meanwhile, the much-feared Arab Street has proved more unreliable than a deadbeat dad with two months back child support, a bottle of MadDog 20/20 and no forwarding address. What's the world coming to anyway?

Day after day the press dutifully focused on the voluntary disenfranchisement of the Sunnis: an ethnic minority who (the media conveniently forgot to mention) for 30 years violently oppressed the majority of law-abiding Iraqis. And how were the press repaid for their devotion? The shifty blighters can't even be relied upon to erupt in an orgy of violence! Now they decide to participate in the democratic process. How dare they legitimize the Shrub's illegal and immoral war of aggression by showing up at the polls! For God's sake - don't these people read the NY Times?

But never fear, as Kedwards once hastened to assure a foundering America, hope is on the way. The Strong Strength of Strongness will soon be restored to a nation faltering in its resolve:

Here are the headlines you may have missed: "Iraqi democracy takes bow to standing ovation, global applause" Or "Iraqi voter turnout another blow to al-Qaida." Or perhaps: "Joyful Americans dance in streets as Iraqi voters approve new constitution."

The tone of a majority of newspapers I viewed both Sunday and Monday was restrained to tepid. With some exceptions, headlines conveyed that familiar "yes, but" qualification. As in, "Yeah, sure, Iraq got a new constitution and took a giant stride toward independent self-rule, but life is still hell and, by the way, six American soldiers died."

Admittedly, my cursory review hardly qualifies as scientific, but a quick survey suggests that the public's perception that the media take a glass-half-empty approach to news coverage, especially the war in Iraq, is justified. Here, for instance, is The Baltimore Sun's Monday headline: "Arguments begin over count of Iraq vote."

The Augusta Chronicle and The Orlando Sentinel chimed in with: "Disputes surround early tally" and "Disputes erupt on Iraq vote results," respectively. The Louisville Courier-Journal took the fire-'n'-brimstone path: "Passing constitution won't end Iraq's woes."

With the looming threat of nascent Democracy hanging over their heads like bloody Armageddon, the loyal opposition have called in the cavalry:

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"President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did."

Mr Bush went on: "And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East'. And, by God, I'm gonna do it."

The full horror of this apocalyptic revelation is still reverberating throughout the free world. The President - an avowed Christian - talks to God. This shocking revelation may well be followed up by earthshaking disclosures that he reads the Bible during his lunch hour and that the GWOT is secretly being directed by The Illuminati.

Why on earth do the same people who think it's just groovy to get their chakras aligned and practice tantric sex find the idea of a Supreme Being so outlandish? Am I missing something? Should we chalk it up to unresolved toilet-training conflicts that manifest as full-fledged authority issues in adulthood? I don't converse with the Almighty often, but my conception of the U.S. Constitution is that it protects any citizen's right to do so. We elected George W. Bush because he managed to convince a majority of the American populace that his leadership was taking this nation where we wanted it to go. He can talk things out with Barney the White House terrier for all I care: his private decision-making process is really not anyone else's business. The current hysteria about W's religion is every bit as ludicrous as Monty Python's famous, "We have found a witch...may we burn her?", and deserves about the same response - peals of laughter. It really needs to stop.

What is getting lost in all the blather is this: the decision to fund the war was discussed endlessly by the entire Cabinet and overwhelmingly approved by the entire Congress (who show no visible signs of chewing tinfoil or holding sinister conversations with The Deity). So I think we're in the clear here on the whole Establishment Clause issue; leaving aside the beautiful, natural, and completely understandable impulses of the tolerant Left to burn the Twig at the stake for his beliefs, sans trial.

Now that the worst fears of the anti-war crowd have come true and the Sunnis are participating in the democratic process instead of picking up the nearest Kalashnikov and wasting their neighbors (as Senator Joe Biden has so presciently predicted), it begins to seem that perhaps even brown-skinned Arab people might be 'ready for democracy'. Even when they disagree. Even when the process is not perfect. How terribly un-elitist of them:

Directors at five polling stations in Adhamiyah, housed in two schools, put turnout by midday at more than half of eligible voters, possibly far more. In interviews, nearly everyone voting Saturday said they had stayed away from the January election.

Perhaps the most important question Saturday was whether their turnout would bring them into a political process they have so far eschewed or, if the constitution is approved, deepen their alienation. Without exception, voters said they planned to cast ballots in elections in December to choose a new parliament.

"God willing, we have to secure the future of Iraq," said Wissam Faiz, a 22-year-old who voted no. "With a new election, we can elect a better government."

Could a better government exist with the occupation? he was asked.

Frowning, he shrugged. "Without an occupation," he said, somewhat ambiguously, "we would have never witnessed any of this."

Welcome to the free world, Wissam, with all its imperfections, complications, conflicts, and strife.

It's called democracy: the glorious struggle. The glorious dream.

What a wild ride. Praise be to Allah.