Hiller Instinct: Saddam\'s Capture
The Hiller Instinct: Hiller Instinct: Saddam's Capture
We are Americans before we become Republicans or Democrats, so we should all feel patriotic pride that--half a world away--U.S. soldiers found a hole in the ground and a cowardly Saddam Hussein hiding inside it. These are the most powerful pictures to come from Iraq since April, when statues of Saddam were toppled in Baghdad and symbolism suggested a monster had been beheaded.
So this is a profound political moment for President Bush - the most emotional since he stood at Ground Zero just days after 9/11:
President George Bush
"The people who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon."
This weekend, the world heard, and suddenly some of the charges Bush's challengers have leveled sound silly:
Sen. John Kerry, (D) Presidential Candidate
"This President can't find Saddam Hussein, he can't find Osama bin Laden..."
Rep. Richard Gephardt, (D) Presidential Candidate
"He can't even find Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, they vanished."
But just as President Bush celebrated too early in May when he declared mission accomplished in Iraq, we would all be premature today to think Saddam's capture ends the battle for the White House.
Because Bush went to war to find weapons of mass destruction and terrorists--not just Saddam, which makes what he said this summer still true:
President George Bush
"In order to placate the critics and the cynics about the intentions of the United States, we need to produce evidence."
So Democratic doubts about the war in Iraq don't suddenly die and the party's candidates--including frontrunner Howard Dean--will continue to criticize Bush:
Howard Dean, (D) Presidential Candidate
"My position on the war in Iraq has not changed. The difficulties and the tragedies which we have faced in Iraq show that the administration launched the war in the wrong way, at the wrong time."
The pride we all feel today may fade. But don't under-estimate the impact of Saddam's arrest. If the presidential election were held last Friday, the Democrats had a chance. If the election were held tomorrow, George Bush would win.