Sunday, December 31, 2006

Post Watch Girl!

We've got a slow internet connection this morning, so I haven't checked Post Watch yet. I wonder what he'll make of this "news" story covering the Bush family vendetta against Saddam Hussein by Peter Baker. Let's go to the headline:

Conflicts Shaped Two Presidencies
U.S., Iraq Continue to Experience Aftereffects of Their Confrontations
Alrighty. Whatcha got?

Paragraph two:
It took nearly 16 years, but he's finally gone. And with Hussein's execution in Baghdad, so is the chief nemesis [Note: no attribution] of the Bush family, a man who bedeviled father-and-son presidents and in different ways dominated both of their administrations.
Saddam has been hanged. Paragraph three opens up
If there is a feeling of euphoria, or satisfaction, or perhaps just relief, neither Bush is expressing it publicly this weekend. President Bush went to bed Friday night without waiting for the execution and left it to an aide to release a statement praising the Iraqi people for "bringing Saddam Hussein to justice." His father remained silent. But Hussein's death removed only the man. The forces unleashed by the epic struggle remain as powerful and crippling as ever for two countries. [I don't know that it's crippling to either country. It's certainly a difficult time].
We then have a few paragraphs of named people close to the Bush's denying there was a personal vendetta, but writes Baker, "the history of animosity between the Bushes and Hussein is hard to ignore." He then writes of how Hussein survived the Gulf War and that Iraqis tried to assassinate Bush 41, but
"Some later questioned the seriousness of the assassination attempt [like who?] or its connections to Baghdad. But the incident clearly was a searing moment for the Bush family. [No attribution.]

By the time the younger Bush ran for president, he appeared [love that word--appeared!] determined not to repeat the mistake he believed his father made with Hussein. "No one envisioned him still standing," the candidate told BBC in November 1999. "It's time to finish the task."
That last quote by Bush 43 is pretty weak. I'd like to hear the question that preceded it. There's no antecedent for "him" and "It's." Baker wants me to read the quote thusly, "No one envisioned Saddam still standing. It's time to kill him."

But Baker's not gaining my trust very well so far, so I'm skeptical. Finally he uses a named source two graphs down. Of course, it is preceded by unnamed sources:
At Bush's first National Security Council meeting after taking office, he seemed to some aides to be ready to go. "From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," Paul O'Neill, Bush's first treasury secretary, later told CBS News. In Ron Suskind's book, "The Price of Loyalty," O'Neill was quoted as saying that Bush told aides to prepare to remove Hussein: "That was the tone of it, the president saying . . . 'Go find me a way to do this.' "
And here comes a second named source (remember, we're on page two of this story!).
Others on the inside came to a similar conclusion. In a memo in March 2002, Peter Ricketts, a top British official, sounded skeptical of U.S. motivations: "For Iraq, 'regime change' does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam."
This is all followed by a few graphs of Bush 41 quotes and Bush 43 quotes about their hatred for Saddam, but the hatred is not vetted. Bush 43 mentions that he (Saddam) gassed his own people. Bush 41 notes that Saddam hates "us," another pronoun with no antecedent. "Us" could be us, Americans, or us, Bushes.

In any case Baker closes with a quote from a named Bush insider saying that Bush 43 didn't act like Saddam's capture was any big deal and upon hearing the news kept the day "businesslike" and then:
Still, in his White House study, the president keeps a memento -- the pistol taken from Hussein when he was captured. If there ever was a duel, it is now over.
Got that? The fight between the Hatfields and McCoys the Bushes and Saddam is over. Can't believe we went to war on that.

Come to think of it, Baker doesn't mention the national security threat of assassination attempts on ex-presidents. Maybe it was in the original draft but got cut to make room for all the speculation from his unnamed sources.

Class dismissed!

Updated correction: Baker, not Parker. Thanks, Mike!

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Blogger Mike in S.A. said...

Is that Peter Baker or Peter Parker? Hmmmmm.....[scratches head]

all the speculation from his unnamed sources

The only "unnamed source" in question seems to be his tinfoil hat!

7:23 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Doh! I have two excuses--1. my son got a spiderman costume for Christmas and 2. I have lately been thinking of some relatives by the name of Parker!

7:36 AM  
Blogger Mike in S.A. said...

Thanks, Mike!

Glad I could help! :)

When I first saw that article posted at RealClear Politics, I did a double-take myself, thinking it originally said Parker. I'm sure Baker himself runs into that problem quite often.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Bill O'Reilly said...

Speaking of Saddam's execution, Luther was surprised to read that I oppose capitol punishment.

4:32 PM  

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