SADDAM ON CBS: MY TAKE
Before anything else, a recap from cbs
, and a complete transcript
of the interview. You can also find video clips in the first link.
(NOTE: yes I am a liberal who is strongly opposed to this war. There seems to be this assumption that any and every anti-war person who wants to be taken seriously in any way, has to preface his opposition with something to the effect of "Yes, Saddam Hussein is an evil man, and the world would be a better place without him in power", etc. In light of that, a couple of things. I'm not going to say that anymore. You'll just have to accept my opinion of him on faith. Also, conservatives never tended to preface Pinochet, the contras, etc with any such stuff.)
This was one of those rare occasions these days when TV news succeeds wildly. The excesses of CNN, Faux and MSNBC are nowhere to be found here. No heart-pounding music, no flashy graphics, no bold headlines ("COUNTDOWN IN IRAQ", "SHOWDOWN WITH SADDAM"), just interviewer and interviewee (translators as well, of course). I was very thankful for that, because just about everything we've heard about Iraq and Hussein has been through the filter of the American punditocracy.
Also, it's pretty clear that Dan Rather, as official TFM housemate Greg put it, has some "world class balls". He had a lot of tough, straightforward, no-fucking-around questions for Hussein. He had a responsibility not that dissimilar from Jodie Foster's character in Contact
, who has to represent all of humanity when she first meets the little green men, hehe; he had to stand in for all of America, both those who support and oppose war.
Not only that, but he was there as another lifeline to Hussein. A tacit aspect to his presence in Baghdad was to say to Hussein, in effect, "Look, you remember 1991. We know that the debate about war is still raging around the world, and much is in question, but you can do your part to avoid this too
". I'm not sure how much of that got through. In terms of this buildup, we're dealing with two proud, proud men, in Dubya and Saddam, and they're both absolutely sure about how right they are. Millions of protesters around the world, and Bush claims they can't sway him. Saddam probably holds a similar mindset.
(sidebar: Let's say *woosh* you switched Bush and Hussein right now, so Dan Rather would have been interviewing Iraqi President George W Bush. What would he have done or said any different from what Saddam did tonight? Everything from the no-exile to the we-won-1991 thing, Saddam W Bushein would have done that. I philosophically believe that "evil" is relative, we can get into that later)
Of course, the big deal was the debate challenge. It'll never happen, of course. Dubya hasn't held a friggin press conference
in weeks and months, you think he's ready to go before a world audience and debate
? The White House is already pissed
about this interview, god forbid they do anything else that makes Saddam look like a human being and not some mythical hellbeast.
There's a lot more, read the transcript if you have time.
(also, to those who point out to Saddam that those elections he won were single-party and meaningless, remember to ask yourselves how Bush did with the voting public in 2000)