Man Without Qualities

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Speak, Dan

Dan Rather has an op-ed piece in OpinionJournal today concerning his recent interview with Saddam Hussein. It is as completely lacking in insight as it is filled with Rathery ticks, such as his annoying use of "this reporter" when he means "I" or "me." The anchor and managing editor of "CBS Evening News" shares portentous pseudo-insights: "It is ... a story.. that can be told in a single line: Saddam Hussein considers himself to be the consummate survivor" and "one imagines, he may think that he can slip, foxlike, into the underbrush, to gather his resources for the next battle" and the like fill the allotted inches.

Let's face it: Mr. Rather did not collect information during his interview that allows him to justify the conclusion that Hussein's story can be told in such a "single line." And where the heck could the dictator of a whole country "slip, foxlike, into the underbrush" if the United States takes his country from him? Is "this reporter" suggesting that Hussein thinks he can take to the hills or the caves a la the young Castro or bin Laden? Please. If that's what he means, no wonder Mr. Rather won't come right out and say it.

But surely the most unintentionally hilarious part of this whole ream of Rather blather is this reporter's apparently naive unawareness that he has been chosen as a useful idiot:

This ... reporter found himself again interviewing the Iraqi president. ... I wound up, on this trip, in a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. He listened and then said that they liked the fact that I knew the region well and had a reputation for being independent. He would take my request directly to the president, with the clear understanding that there would be no conditions whatsoever about questions to be asked in any interview. There was a long night and day of waiting. Then, a phone call in my hotel room, a pickup by armed guards, and a long circuitous drive, first to a "guesthouse," then to the palace. Saddam Hussein would see me there.

Can anyone think that Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz cared a bit that Mr. Rather "knew the region well and had a reputation for being independent?"

No. What Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz cared about and liked was that Mr. Rather has a reputation for being a foaming-at-the-mouth critic of the President of the United States and an obvious opponent of war with Iraq.

"Knew the region well and had a reputation for being independent?" Who would have guessed that Dan Rather does such droll stand up comedy?

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