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Sunday, May 02, 2004

RE: Kofi Annan's appearance on "Meet The Press".

John Kerry should envy the UN Secretary General's cool. Annan's hands never unfold, and his thumbs - they never twiddle. I like the way Annan can smile and frown at all times, with nicely modulated degrees of intensity in either facility. Depending, of course, on which both-sides of an issue he's trying to take. Kerry should also envy the manner in which Annan seemed pained, yet condescended to attempt to wrap a little cartilage, a bit of muscle, and a few patches of skin to the bones of one blunt, coarse quote after another that Tim Russert dragged out the past couple of years.

The bones stuck out anyway. An Annan quote from 2003 to the effect that an occupying power could only make things worse by engaging with rebel military forces, was transformed before Russert's ears into the usual 'hearts and minds' (H&M) admonishment. Pretty slick, and Annan even got away without being asked what'cha gonna do if the insurgents' hearts and minds aren't transformed. And I want to know - is al-Sadr, for example, more legit if he remains a violent opponent to a free Iraqi government, or less? Even the worst polls taken in Iraq show that the plurality of the H&M syndicate has gone with the Coalition forces. In the rest of the polling, the Coalition wins by majorities.

Annan believes the UN will do a fine job working the June 30-onwards government into real legitimacy, of course with the military support of the US, Britain, etc. and probably zero Blue Helmets. Doesn't that remind you of one of those TV ads for diet supplements? The pill is trumpeted with 'DAILY USE OF [name of pill]' immediately qualified by '...anddietandexercise'.

On the matter of Lakhdar Brahimi's return to Iraq to represent for the United Nations in setting up an Iraqi government, Annan believed that Brahimi's blunt, coarse, and quite absolute blame of Middle East tensions on Israel and the US alone shouldn't be held against him. The man's an experieced bureau-plomat! Or a diplo-crat! Or one more anti-Semite in one more high place! Okay, okay, he said none of the three preceeding terms. Annan really only described him as too experienced and hence valuable to bounce just for some comments. But somehow those three epithets just don't seem like a stretch.

Kerry should also check out Annan's long silence after Russert asked him about his thoughts on failure-to-date to locate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The frown deeped as the smile turned into a slight grimace. It turns out, Annan believed them to exist, as well, but fell back on procedure - the inspectors didn't have long enough. Well, he's gotta a point - there couldn't have been enough time for the UN weapons inspection team. Refer to 'Oil For Food' scam.

Annan, having watched Russert here and there in his lifetime, figured the hard stuff was being saved for last: the Oil-for-Food coinfest. It's too late in this post to be un-snarky, so I'll just say this has to have been a painful public moment for a dad. And that's the last remaining thread for me - Annan needs to go. Yes, he owes the Iraqi people, and even if he owes the Tutsis first, he should get at least this situation right. It's really asking too much to ask the Iraqi leadership to trust his leadership.

On second thought, there's a lot here that Kerry shouldn't envy.

RE: Chris Wallace's response to Ted Koppel's 'Nightline' reading of the names of the dead soldiers in Iraq.

Well, I didn't watch Koppel because, well, I just didn't need whatever edification that his exhibition promised. But on Fox Sunday, Chris Wallace's at least sounded right on and pitch-perfect. I might even watch Fox's listing of accomplishments, 'cause it's about damn time they made them to American air-time. Wish I'd have watched the preceeding Fox News Sunday instead of Joe Wilson w/ Russert.

Still, in Koppel's defense....

Maybe he should be held to this. Looking back, the fact is that if Edward R. Murrow had paid tribute to the dead of the Korean War by reading their names on-air, someone would've asked him why he didn't do this in World War II. If he'd done it in World War II, someone would've asked why no one did this in World War I. If done during World War I, why not the Spanish-American war...

Sure, I believe Koppel had an agenda. That can't mitigate the touching quality possessed by the return of the war dead in those flag-draped coffins. But IMHO, maybe this will become a 'Nightline' tradition if the US is compelled to go into Syria and / or Iran. Or in any future conflict. And maybe it really will become a tribute.
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