As news of Uday and Qusay Hussein's most welcome demise was breaking across the globe, Iraqis lit the skies with celebratory fire, financial markets surged, oil prices dipped, and men and women of goodwill exulted in the apparent success, soon confirmed, of American forces who had rid the world of the monstrous brothers long instrumental in maintaining Saddam Hussein's Iraq as a rogue police state of domestic torture and international menace.
But what did the Democrats do?
There was presidential hopeful Richard Gephardt, giving a gee-whiz-bang foreign policy speech in San Francisco ("the incubator of internationalism," as he put it) about "looming quagmires," John Wayne and "hoisting cold ones."
Before anyone could unravel his brain-knotting rationale for both supporting the war based on Iraqi failures to comply with United Nations disarmament orders, and doubting the war based on the inclusion of British uranium intelligence in the president's State of the Union address -- boom (or, rather, boom, boom), Uday and Qusay Hussein were dead, and Saddam Hussein's dynasty was ended.
"A very, very important move forward," said Britain's Tony Blair. "A great day for the Iraqi people and a great day for the American military," said chief civil administrator for Iraq Paul Bremer. "A more important step in the liberation of Iraq than the fall of Baghdad," wrote military affairs expert Ralph Peters.
But how churlish Sen. Jay Rockefeller, West Virginia Democrat, sounded when asked about initial reports of Uday and Qusay's demise. "It's a possibility," he conceded (barely), "but we've heard that before." Seems he didn't want to talk about the successful operation against the Hussein brothers this week, when he still had plenty to say about British claims about Iraq's unsuccessful attempts to buy uranium last year.
Once the deaths were confirmed, Rockefeller changed gears from doubting the news to denigrating the accomplishment. His message? Nothing but the death of Saddam Hussein was even worth mentioning. "Until we see him dead, know that he's dead -- more importantly, until the Iraqi people know that he's dead," Rockefeller explained, "he is still the looming presence." Never mind that without his sons, Saddam Hussein's presence at least looms a little less. By comparison, Sen. Ted Kennedy sounded almost upbeat -- "It's progress, but I still think we need an overall strategy" -- but it was just more sour Senate Democrat grapes.