Friday, November 03, 2006

Judgment Day and Unintended Consequences

On Sunday, Saddam Hussein goes to court again to be sentenced for the killing of 148 rebellious Shi'ites in the early '80s. This is only one of the cases pending against him; he's in court again Tuesday on another charge. But Sunday's hearing will be the first case to actually wrap up and pronounce a sentence, possibly the death penalty.

Obviously the hearing was timed to occur just before the US midterm elections -- there's no such thing as coincidence with the republicans. The intention is to show that some progress is being made in Iraq, and hopefully win back those voters who've abandoned the GOP in disgust over their ham-fisted incompetence in the war. But it could backfire badly.

For one thing, after 3-1/2 years of escalating violence that's descended into outright civil war, American voters don't care that much about Saddam. It might be different if WMDs had been found, or if Saddam had really been a threat, or if the war had actually ended the day Georgie stood idiotically crowing and strutting under the "Mission Accomplished" banner. But with almost 3000 dead American troops (8 more just today), hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, and the war a bottomless quagmire, any American with a functional brain stem just wants it to be history. Most voters don't give a fiddler's fuck whether Saddam gets the death penalty or day parole. Even the most diehard original warmongers have turned on the Bush administration with disgust over their dumbfuckery in Iraq -- when even batshit loony hawks like Richard Perle are unleashing this kind of criticism, the situation is way bad. The sinking ship these neocon rats are fleeing is the last thing the republicans should be calling attention to.

And what about the reaction of Saddam's supporters, the diehard insurgency? Security forces are on high alert this weekend, expecting even more violence than usual, if that's even possible. If Saddam gets the death penalty on Sunday and his supporters go apeshit and start blowing up everything in sight, it'll be all over TV screens across America by Monday night. Iraq in flames and chaos may not be a helpful image for the republicans to plant in the minds of Joe and Mary Sixpack 12 hours before they head to the polls.

I hope the violence doesn't escalate, if only because the Iraqis have already had way more than their share of agony. Besides, at this point the election is the Democrats' to lose. What happens after Saddam's hearing on Sunday will only determine whether it's a shitkicking or a bloodbath.