Kathleen Parker

As the world watched millions of Iraqis walk miles to vote, in some cases stepping over puddles of blood left by suicide bombers, a glum John Kerry appeared on "Meet the Press" and urged Americans not to "overhype" Iraq's elections.

Absurdity has no richer friends.

On one hand is the absurdity of a suicide bomber blowing himself up to prevent free people from directing their own destinies. Although the bomber certainly cast his ballot, didn't he? He certainly let his voice be heard. It's just that no one cared. "Watch your hem, honey, somebody left a mess."

On the other, we have the man who was almost president insisting that Americans seeing people formerly enslaved casting their first ballots following liberation shouldn't get too excited.

Not to diminish the day's events, which produced some memorable images - men dancing, women winking, everybody posing with their purple-tipped "Numero Unos" pointing toward the author of liberty. But let's not get too carried away.

OK, fine, just a quick Irish jig and we'll all calm down.

I feel like the guy in the TV commercial who, when his wife is looking, is Bob Cratchit, studiously paying bills. The instant she leaves him alone and closes the door, he's Charlie Watts, air-drumming thunder for "Jumpin' Jack Flash."

Likewise President George W. Bush as he addressed the nation Sunday, commenting on the super-successful (not to overhype or anything) elections, struggled to keep a straight face. You could tell he was fighting to suppress the sort of grin one can't describe in a family newspaper. What canary feathers?

It's been amusing to watch as many Democrats (with notable exceptions) have tried to remain deadpan and tepid in the presence of Utter Coolness - 8 million people reborn into freedom and voting after 50 years of tyranny. Even suicide bombers, who managed to kill a couple dozen innocents, couldn't dissuade voters from trekking to the polls.

Yet, in what should have been a nonpartisan day of elation - if only as witnesses to an epic event - Kerry and others couldn't quite bring themselves to say, "What a grand moment!" It was just a moment, after all. We all know that. We know that casting ballots doesn't end the insurgency or dampen terrorists' appetite for mayhem.

But Sunday's elections were huge, and not just for Republicans, or for neocons, or for whatever political entities were supposed to benefit from Iraqi courage. You don't even have to hand this to George W. Bush exclusively.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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