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President provides a sideshow

So it’s high-ho, high-ho, off to war we go. And it will be oh, such a lovely war. But we’re already at war, you protest. We’re fighting the war on terrorism, which is often capitalized, you point out. Bring me the head of Osama bin Laden, George W. said, and into action we went springing. Well, OK, technically it was autumn in Afghanistan, but it’s the thought that counts.

But lately, you have to admit, the war on terrorism seems to have hit the doldrums. We zapped in there, smart bombs and rocket launchers blazing, blasted the place apart, pulverized the Taliban and scattered Al-Qaeda to the winds.

We didn’t exactly bring Dubya the head of Osama, but we did capture a lot of bad guys, whom we packed off to Cuba, where they’d stay out of trouble and, equally important, remain under the radar of the media.

That part of the operation was quite successful. They’re down there clearing Cuban beaches of all the lost Florida ballots that keep washing ashore. Apparently, there’s a whole new batch due to arrive any day now. It’s a lesson in democracy.

But as far as the war on terrorism goes, let’s face it – it’s lost much of its sexiness. There’s been nothing much to do in Afghanistan but bomb wedding parties and Canadians and that’s not, well, a real man’s idea of war. Not to mention that it tends to annoy the blissful couple, the in-laws, the caterers, the band and as it turns out, the Canadians. Who could have known?

So, facing sagging ratings, our president took a gander around, spied Saddam Hussein, and sent out his whisperers with the rumors of war.

It was a brilliant piece of work, really. All spring and summer, the news shows and newspaper headlines were full of Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen and their ilk, not to mention a stalled economy and a stock market stuck on the down escalator. And now, it’s all Iraq, all the time, baby. The question is not if we’re going to invade, but when.

As Jim Jordan, the director of the Democrats’ Senate campaign committee, told the Washington Post: “It’s hard not to notice that the sudden urgency of war with Iraq has coincided precisely with the emergence of the corporate-scandal story, with the flip in the congressional [poll] numbers, and the decline in the Republicans’ prospects for re-taking the Senate majority.”

Sound too cynical? Well, here’s Andrew Card, Dubya’s chief of staff, telling The New York Times why the president waited until Sept. to put the big chill on Saddam: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”

I don’t know about you, but I feel so much more secure knowing our president understands the marketing point of view. See, he learned something in Harvard Business School, after all.

So, we’re off to war with Saddam because … well, because he’s bad. Of course, he was bad during the Reagan and first Bush administrations, when we were giving him aid to fight Iran. Well, we’re off to fight Saddam because he’s developing nuclear weapons. George W. told us so, cited an International Atomic Energy Agency report, and made his famous statement: “I don’t know what more evidence we need.” As it turns out, we still need some evidence. An agency spokesman said that “report” doesn’t exist, except in “Dubya’s” speech.

Oh, evidence shmevidence. From a marketing point of view, now is the time to get Saddam. And so get him we will.

Somebody’s between Iraq and a hard place. Saddam for sure.

Let’s just hope it’s not the marketing point of view, too.