Tonight’s the night. Maybe. There are rumors he’s been hanged already, there’s one more appeal to American courts afoot, but best guess right now is that Saddam will get the drop about five hours hence.
I love this picture. He looks like the male lead for a dinner theater production of, I dunno,
“I Am a Total Raving Headcase Crazyman.”
I wonder what he’s thinking right now.
Of course, I really wondered what he was thinking all that time he spent laying low in his hidey hole on the banks of the Tigris, creeping out of an evening to eat a can of beanie weenies in the dark.
He was born there, near Tikrit, the son of a shepherd who buggered off before Saddam was born. He was mostly raised by an uncle, who was not kind him. He went from there to multi-billionaire leader of a great and ancient land, by way of a lifetime career of violence, threats of violence and political intrigue. He was one of the most powerful beings who ever lived; his image appeared a thousand times a thousand on buildings statuary and money.
And there he was, stretched at full length in a muddy hole hardly big enough to roll over in his sleep.
What was he thinking then?
Not much, I decided. Not much beyond a sulky sense of grievance. The narrowly ruthless qualities needed to claw the way to ultimate power are not introspective. They are…whatever the opposite of introspective is. Your garden variety thug is not self-conscious, in the sense of recognizing his own shortcomings and the propriety of restraint; a despot is a thug writ huge. It takes a gigantic sense of entitlement — of deserving to rule the world — to make a man like Saddam.
So, on the whole, no…I don’t think Saddam has any sense of the irony of his position. Not his position in the palace, nor in the spider hole, nor in the cell awaiting execution tonight. I don’t think he’s capable of irony.
And I don’t believe there’s a shred of guilt or shame in the man. He sits in his cell tonight feeling dignified, majestic and gigantically wronged. Secure in the belief that history will remember him a great man and a martyr. You can’t punish a Saddam. You cannot make him see himself as we see him. He will live out his life on a desert island of self.
I see Saddam as more mad dog than wicked man. But, probably, that’s just me. At any rate, we don’t spare the lives of rabid dogs simply because they are diseased rather than evil.
“Put him to sleep” is the phrase I’m looking for. G’night, Mr President.