ìSuicide Bomber Kills President of Iraqi Council: Attack Near U.S. Offices: At Least 6 Civilians DieóUncertainty in Advance of Power Transfer,î by Ian Fisher, New York Times, 18 May, p. A1.
ìAs Violence Deepens, So Does Pessimism,î by Daniel Williams, Washington Post, 18 May, p. A1.
ìOld Iraq Army Could Provide A Leader, Jordanís King Says,î by Alan Cowell, NYT, 18 May, p. A8.
ìIn Iraq, Americaís Shakeout Moment,î by David Brooks, NYT, 18 May, p. A23.
ìKerry Feels for Footing On Countryís Role in Iraq: Supporting the troops while keeping Nader sidelined,î by Jodi Wilgoren and David E. Rosenbaum, NYT, 18 May, p. A18.
[Advertisement] ìStaffers Live for the Party,î Discovery/Times Channel, USA Today, 18 May, p. E9.
The latest suicide bomber attack just outside the Green Zone claims another member of the Iraqi Governing Councilóits president no less. Another member of the council sums it up plainly: ìThe countdown is there, and then they are escalating. They donít want this political process to succeed. And they want just to have more deterioration of the security situation.î
The threats have become so direct in this war, as coldly calculating as the offers: Osama tells the Europeans heíll stop killing them if they leave the region in 90 days, while signs appear in Baghdad warning citizens that anyone who cooperates with U.S. forces will be killed without warning. Little wonder that Jordanís King Hussein says Iraq should have a military leader for at least a year after the transitionósomeone not afraid to ìhold Iraq together for the next year.î
The king sees the shakeout moment arriving, to borrow David Brooksí excellent phrase. As he puts it:
ìHope begets disappointment, and we are now in a moment of disappointment when it comes to Iraq. During these shakeout moments, the nay-sayers get to gloat while the rest of us despair, lacerate ourselves, second-guess those in charge and look at things anew. But this very process of self-criticism is the precondition for the second wind, the grubbier, less illusioned effort that often enough leads to some acceptable outcome.îI couldnít have said it better. Iraq-the-occupation will transform not just defense transformation within the Pentagon, but Americaís entire foreign policy in a way that will dwarf what 9/11 did. The terrorist attacks on that day got us scared about living here at home, but the Iraq occupation will demand from us the will and staying power to do what is necessary over there.
Meanwhile, John Kerry needs to attach himself to this seriously pivoting moment in U.S. history. He needs to do more than just fend off Naderís call for an exit strategy (Ralph will apparently have us all waiting in our basements for the next big one). Kerry needs to enunciate his vision for moving us forward in this process of not just defending America, but connecting the Middle East to some better future andóby doing soówinning what we have mistakenly dubbed a Global War on Terrorism.
While John pondersóseemingly foreverówhat he needs to say about Iraq, carefully parsing out each word, a new, deeper insight into the guts of his campaign is offered to us by the Discovery/Times Channel. Yes, a profile of John Kerryís ìbutt boy.î Building off the New York Timeís page 1 story of a couple of weeks back (during my planned media tour), this is apparently the best the Kerry campaign can do to manage the media while President Bushís approval rating hits an all-time low.
A word of explanation: ìbutt boyî is a Washington term for the young staffer whoís always at the Great Manís right cheekóas in literally just a few inches behind his right buttock. This fellow hands the Great Man anything he may need, and takes from him anything he must dispose of. The butt boy goes by many names. In the military, for example, he is known as the Executive Aide to the Admiral/General, but that just means a butt boy in uniform. The butt boyís main requirement is that the Great Man has to be able to stand his presence pretty much all the time: the Great Man sneezes and butt boy whips out a Kleenex. You get the pictureóhell, heís always in the picture! You just never recognize him because you only see half of his face at best.
Anyway . . .
Over 130 U.S. troops died in Iraq in April, and John Kerryís got real-world experience on both sides of that aisle, having fought with honor in war and having protested with honor against war. So why doesnít the New York Times push the Discovery channel to do a hour show on Kerryís thoughts regarding war and peace in the twenty-first century? Or his thoughts on globalization? Global terrorism? Peace in the Middle East?
Instead, we get the butt boy, in a hard-wiping profile that delves deep inside Kerryís inner sanctums.
Ooh, this is crucial stuff to know: ìPart-time driver. Part-time caddie. Part-time advisor. Full-time staffer.î This is the man whoís always there when John needs a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich (yes, I read the New York Times front-page profile of the man, andólike most butt boy storiesóit rubbed me the wrong way). He knows Kerryís every mood, every twitch, every spicy meal that backfires.
So while we wait for Kerry to distinguish himself vis-‡-vis this close-mouthed, secretive White House that has committed this countryówith almost no serious debateóto a long-term strategy of transforming the Middle East, we get a serious profile of his butt boy (ìWith that be a five iron or the Charmin two-ply?î)
Not the guy who would have his hand on the button, just the staffer whoís always got his hand on the butt.