Kathleen Parker

Some outside observers found it ironic that members of the once-salty world of American journalism had become so delicate - recently issuing proclamations against profanity and urging greater sensitivity in newsrooms - while those who once criticized Bush for his cowboy ways longed for tough talk.

At a press conference, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld turned the tables and blamed the press for Bush's seeming lapse of manliness.

"If President Bush had said the 'S' word, you people would have gotten your panties in a bunch. Ew, a bad word, we're gonna te-ell. Then when he doesn't say a bad word, you have a hissy fit anyway. What is it you people want? Why don't you figure it out and drop us a memo?

"The truth is, you people did this to him. President Bush used to speak his mind and at least you knew where he stood. And so did our enemies. Now, thanks to your incessant ragging, he's become cautious, self-censoring and, frankly, weak. Me? I wish he'd said, 'Syria needs to stop doing this s---.' Why?

"Because that's how real men talk, that's why. Because when a real man thinks about Hezbollah, he doesn't think about dookie. We know what Hezbollah is. It rhymes with 'spit' and you scrape it off your shoe, and we ought to scrape Hezbollah off the face of the earth. Same for Hamas."

Needless to say, Rumsfeld's remarks have been widely circulated - and poorly received - throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Asked if he regretted or wanted to apologize for his comments, he said, "No, I felt better after I said them."

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, meanwhile, has gained new fans, including Sunni Palestinians, who admire his chutzpah in attacking the region's mightiest military power. When asked by an al-Jazeera reporter if he had a message for President Bush, Nasrallah replied: "Shiite happens."

Kathleen Parker

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