The Plank



Unnervingly, when I heard that Saddam Hussein had indeed been executed around
10pm EST tonight at the gallows, and I popped open a laptop and saw the weirdly
pathetic, face-etched-with-wrinkles portrait of him the Washington Post
posted on their homepage (note: These photos rotate, but it was
like this one), I felt a pang of pity for the

Before anyone jumps down my throat for being in league with terrorists or a wimp
(first she cries for Joe Negron, then Saddam!), I think it's amazing the way
a modern tyrant, if he lives past the fall of his evil works, can be so diminished by the
absurdities and petty turns of events involved in figuring out what to do with him,
attempting to treat him fairly, tend to his health and accomodate his infirmities, while
still trying to act as though he is a person who murdered hundreds of thousands, etc.
Pinochet underwent such a diminishment. While Saddam won't be laid to rest with the
mixed feelings that accompanied Pinochet's death, the Mel-Brooks-esque comedy
and two-bit pathos of his trial reduced the figure he cut from a powerful terror to a
hollow, powerless, nutty, fuming, pitiable creature mincing around on the unglorified
stage of the law. In his end days, Saddam even tried to burnish his reputation, issuing
a letter in which he polished his Islamic credentials and, in a trendy line of reasoning,
urged his followers to hate Bush but not the U.S. troops! It seems incredible that a
man like Saddam could hope to burnish his reputation, but a friend I was with tonight
-- a
very smart guy who works for a major newspaper -- was legitimately upset about
Saddam's hanging, expressing concern that the
post-capture process had not been fair to him.

In case you need, as I did, a reminder of the horrors Saddam wreaked on his people
and the person he was before feelings about Bush muddied feelings about him,
here's a straight history of his
, and a glimpse into the particularly sadistic
of his son.

--Eve Fairbanks

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