'We got him!'

Posted: Dec 18, 2003 12:00 AM

Those were Paul Bremer's first words Sunday, announcing the capture of Saddam Hussein - and great good outstanding words they were.

The world now knows the essentials: Operation Red Dawn; Wolverine 1 and Wolverine 2; a dilapidated orange-and-white taxi; 600 U.S. troops driving Saddam literally to ground - capturing him at the bottom of an 8-foot hole as he tried to cover himself with dirt. And not a shot was fired, not even by cowering Saddam the Invincible - this dark-lord "Sauron" who swore he would go down with guns blazing if he ever went down at all.

Saddam terrorized and killed millions; 400,000 in mass graves already have been found. Iraqis should try him and deliver up his fate. Nothing could so heal this most multifarious of Arab countries - consisting of Shiite, Sunni, Turkmen and Kurd. Nothing could so unite it. Nothing could so purge it of the fear Saddam's decades-long terror induced. Nothing could so move it toward achievement of the liberty, justice and democracy that, except in Turkey, are so absent throughout the Arab world.

Coalition forces deserve the fullest praise. So does President Bush. So do those Americans who urged him on. Saddam's capture marked a fine day for the good guys in the ceaseless war against evil. Churchill reminded, "Facts are better than dreams." President Bush said Sunday: "Our security is assured by our perseverance. The fact of Saddam's capture, largely a consequence of our perseverance, enhances the security of the world and makes vastly more possible the dream of liberty and democracy in the Middle East - not least in Iraq."

For the Democrats, what now?

Not long ago, Democratic presidential wannabes were running on two principal issues - the economy and security. Historically, the former largely has determined the presidential winner; security is its only trump.

When the economy turned north, the Democrats stopped mentioning it. For about six weeks now, they've been conveniently and uncharacteristically quiet about it - uttering hardly a discouraging word.

Since their economic quietus, they've been running almost exclusively on security - yet in the process, except for Joe Lieberman, saying little of substance and each day verifying why, on this issue alone, they do not merit election to anything except Peaceniks International.

Regarding Iraq prior to Saddam's capture, they fell all over themselves to downplay not only the very notion Saddam might have possessed, or sought to possess, weapons of mass destruction; they also went out of their way to deny the undeniable - i.e., that almost to a man and woman, they thought he did possess them, and (as the record shows) said so.

Some of their recent quotes about Iraq and Bush:

- Al Gore: The war to topple Saddam was "a catastrophic mistake."

- Hillary Clinton, upon her return from her whirlwind Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan and Iraq: "Clearly, (Bush's) quick move for some kind of (Iraqi) sovereignty, in whatever form, by July ... suggests to me there is a political imperative at work to try to declare victory - or at least (to) point to some kind of interim victory - before the November elections." What's more, the president's refusal to cede any authority over Iraqi operations to the United Nations "is a losing proposition."

- John Kerry, Sunday: "What I've argued all along is I always knew we wanted to get rid of (Saddam), we wanted to disarm him, we wanted to hold him accountable, but I wanted to do it right."

- Howard Dean, quoted in the Dec. 1 Washington Post: "Howard Dean launched a full-throated attack on President Bush's foreign policy acumen Sunday, saying Bush has 'no understanding of defense,' is conducting diplomacy by 'petulance,' and lacks 'the backbone to stand up against the Saudis.'"

"Amid a crush of well-wishers seeking autographs at a high school here (in Merrimack, N.H.], Dean said of Bush: 'I think he's made us weaker. He doesn't understand what it takes to defend this country, that you have to have high moral purpose. He doesn't understand that you better keep troop morale high rather than just flying over for Thanksgiving,' as Bush did in visiting Baghdad. At another town hall meeting, in Manchester, Dean added: 'Mr. President, if you'll pardon me, I'll teach you a little about defense.'...

"Blaming the war in Iraq on Bush's 'bullheadedness,' he said the president is 'incapable' of winning international support for reconstruction efforts because 'he managed to insult all the people whose help we need, gratuitously.'"

On Monday, in his debut foreign policy speech, Dean was - if you can stand it, worse.

Such confident mush, slush and gush amounts to nothing but priceless ignorance.

With Saddam now our prisoner and morale soaring to new heights, it's hard to know how these and other Democrats can look themselves in the mirror without weeping or knocking themselves out with mocking laughter. It's also difficult to imagine how, with the economy beyond their complaint, they can stake out a sensible position on Iraq specifically or security generally.

The capture of Saddam may have sealed Bush's re-election.