(On Screen): There's a web site called Expatica, in English, about France. (It has a sister site for Germany, and probably others.) I found the following amazing "letter to the editor" there:
I would not worry about easing the tensions between France and the USA for the following reasons.
Most of the American people feel the way the French do.
Bush is not the legal President of the country. He was appointed by the Supreme Court even though Gore had the popular vote.
Had Bush won he has started the war in Iraq which voilates the constitution. Congress is the only body that can declare war and they are not empowered to assign that decision to anyone else.
Bush has created the Patriot Act which suspends the rights of the individual so he is holding US citizens in jail without charges.
Bush has killed a number of people by direct order to the CIA to rocket the cars in a foreign country. That violates the constitution which protects us from harm until tried in a court of law. Everyone has the right to a trial by a jury of their peers.
Now these are the first four reasons I can think of. There are many others. Lying, Stealing, Cheating, and Fraud against the people of California in the ENRON scandal.
The most heinous crime of all is that they have closed the Statue Of Liberty to the public. A shameful act and disrespectful of the French that gave us the statue and the American children that paid to display it with their pennies.
Peace on Earth
John D. King
I could take this apart, line by line, even word by word. ("most"?) But why bother? There's nothing new here; we've heard it all before. We've refuted it all before, too. (Actually, that's not true. I honestly don't think I've seen anyone try to interpret the Sixth Amendment that way before. And I didn't know that "us" included al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen.)
We're going to hear it all again, too. Over and over and over and over, during this election campaign, from the people who suffer from what Charles Krauthammer facetiously dubbed Bush Derangement Syndrome. (Which someone named Teresa Simon-Noble felt obligated to argue against, because These Things Are Too Important To Joke About.)
I started suffering from election fatigue months ago. I was tired of the November, 2004 election in November, 2003. But my fatigue may lift a bit in the next few months, because the most hysterical anti-Bush rhetoric is about to start ringing a bit hollow. And then it may stop ringing entirely. (One can hope.)
See, Saddam Hussein is about to go on trial in Iraq. And for western journalists in Iraq, it will be an irresistible story: it will take place in Baghdad, it can be covered with minimum risk to the reporters, it will be sensational. So it won't matter that it's going to seriously undermine the narrative.
Eric M. Johnson served in Iraq with the Marines, and wrote about news bias:
Iraq veterans often say they are confused by American news coverage, because their experience differs so greatly from what journalists report. Soldiers and Marines point to the slow, steady progress in almost all areas of Iraqi life and wonder why they don’t get much notice – or in many cases, any notice at all.
Part of the explanation is Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post. He spent most of his career on the metro and technology beats, and has only four years of foreign reporting, two of which are in Iraq. The 31-year-old now runs a news operation that can literally change the world, heading a bureau that is the source for much of the news out of Iraq.
... Chandrasekaran's crew generates a relentlessly negative stream of articles from Iraq – and if there are no events to report, they resort to man-on-the-street interviews and cobble together a story from that. Last week, there was a front-page, above-the-fold article about Iraqis jeering U.S. troops, which amounted to a pastiche of quotations from hostile Iraqis. It was hardly unique. Given the expense of maintaining an Iraq bureau with a dozen staffers, they have to write something to justify themselves, even if the product is shoddy.
So it's noteworthy that even Chandrasekaran can't resist reporting on this story.
One reason this is significant is that it's going to bring perspective back into a lot of political discussion. As the trial (and the news reports) cover Saddam's torture chambers, and talks about how prisoners were treated under Saddam, leftist hyperbole about the American Abu Ghraib abuses will lose much of its force. Extravagent claims will be seen for what they are.
Another reason is that leftists are going to find a lot of their rhetoric being usurped by Saddam himself. Bush is a criminal, right? Saddam sure thinks so.
It's also going to make clear just how bad life was in Iraq before the invasion, and therefore how much it has improved.
There is already press spin trying to "balance" this issue, but it approaches the ludicrous.
Saddam Hussein stands accused of gassing Iraq's Kurds, crushing its Shi'ites and condemning thousands to death in his dreaded torture chambers, but some Iraqis still want him back as president.
"I don't know why they are trying Saddam. He is guilty of nothing," said Ahmed Abdallah, a student from Baghdad's Sunni Muslim Adhamiya district, once favored by Saddam.
"If it were up to me, I would bring him back as president today, not tomorrow."
... "He was a president, an Arab leader. I feel all Arabs are humiliated when I see him as a prisoner like this, no matter what he did," said Faleh Jasem, a driver who was watching the first footage of Saddam facing an Iraqi judge.
"I would feel so hurt if they executed him, because he took a heroic position. He stood up to America and that makes him a real man in my eyes."
That was from Reuters. (But then, you knew that already, didn't you?) Never mind peccadilloes like using nerve gas against Kurdish villages; what was really important was that he stood up to the US. That makes him the hero, and we should never have invaded and removed him from power.
I don't think that particular line will fly. (I think it will have the flight characteristics of a brick.) I think instead that reporters concerned about the narrative will spin Saddam not as "heroic leader of a sovereign nation" but as "broken, harmless, silly old man". That's the subtext I read in Chandrasekaran's WaPo report, but that won't fly, either. The facts are going to get in the way.
My fellow countryman John D. King thinks that Bush is a murderous dictator who usurped power and converted the US into a police state. But we're going to see detailed coverage of a real murderous dictator, who really usurped power, and who really ran a police state. And it's going to be increasingly difficult for even the most hardcore BDS sufferers to make those claims about Bush with a straight face. (Well, perhaps I shouldn't go that far.)
Dick Morris wrote an analysis of the election campaign where he suggested that the Kerry campaign stop attacking Bush's foreign policy and instead concentrate on domestic issues.
Voters overwhelmingly believe that Bush would be the better president to wage the War on Terror. In the Fox News survey, voters said that Bush would be better than Kerry at "protecting the U.S. from terror attacks" by 49 percent to 28 percent. (Women said Bush was better by 46-27; men, by 54-30.)
But voters also have more faith in Kerry to deal with a host of domestic issues. Despite the relatively positive economic news of recent months, voters give Kerry an edge of 10 to 30 percentage points on creating jobs, lowering health care costs, protecting Social Security and helping the environment. Even on education, a signature Bush initiative, Kerry has a double digit lead.
The economy still works to Kerry's advantage. His edge shrinks with each good job-creation report — but the lag time in popular perceptions is huge: A plurality of voters still believe we're in a recession, two years after it ended.
This election will hinge on what Americans want in a president. It's not so much a contest between two candidates, ideologies or even parties as it is a clash between two different issues or priorities for the voters.
... If terror is dominating the headlines in November, Bush will probably win. If not, he'll likely lose. Events, more than campaigning, are likely to determine the outcome.
If foreign affairs (not just "terror") dominates the headlines, Bush has the advantage. And Saddam's trial will guarantee that foreign affairs will remain in the public eye.
Obviously BDS sufferers will think it's a conspiracy, right? It's all a Bush plot to influence the US Presidential election, right? "[E]veryone knows this is theater by Bush the criminal in an attempt to win the election." -- Saddam Hussein
Update 20040702: Pej voices skepticism (as did some of my readers).
Update: Stephen writes:
See, Saddam Hussein is about to go on trial in Iraq.
Yeah, sometime next year in 2005. At least that is what Fox News is =
saying. So how is that going to affect the 2004 election?
It isn't as good if the trial is delayed, but it will still be in the news during preparation of the case and pretrial maneuvering. Saddam's lawyers, in particular, will make sure of that.