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United for Peace of Pierce County - HUMOR: Never explain, never apologize (Kevin Horrigan on Willam Kristol)

Kevin Horrigan admires William Kristol. You have to admire someone who just wonít give up....

By Kevin Horrigan

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 20, 2004

I like a guy who won't quit.

I like the Black Knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," his arm whacked off with a broadsword, saying, "It's just a flesh wound."

I like Wile E. Coyote.

I like Paul Newman in "Cool Hand Luke," letting George Kennedy beat the snot out of him.

I like Roy McAvoy, Kevin Costner's character in "Tin Cup," who only needs to lay up on the 18th hole to win the U.S. Open but decides to drive over the water to the green. And splashes a dozen balls. "Greatness courts failure," says Tin Cup.

And I like William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, the Rupert Murdoch-owned neoconservative newsweekly. Undaunted by the polls, undaunted by the events of the past year, Kristol forges on in defense of the war in Iraq that he and his neocon pals so desperately wanted.

"What the Bush campaign must do is remind Americans that the Iraq war was no mistake -- that the case for the war was and is compelling, and that it used to be bipartisan," Kristol writes in the Standard's July 19 issue.

I love that. Committees and commissions in this country and Great Britain stumble over themselves plumbing the depths of the Iraq mistake, and Kristol stands tall. He could take the easy way out, like Democrats, and say he was lied to. He could weasel like Republicans and blame it on the CIA. But no, he stands tall.

He is like Santiago, the fisherman in Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. The marlin darn near kills him, but he lashes it to the boat and heads back to shore, worried that the people who would eat the flesh of his marlin aren't worthy, only to find sharks ripping great chunks of fish and leaving only the skeleton.

This is where Kristol and the neocons are today. We are not worthy of their war. The whole neoconservative deal started with Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago teaching young saps that they were philosopher-kings who had to take action that the hoi polloi wouldn't understand.

As author James Mann discusses in his new book Rise of the Vulcans, the neocons went to ground during the Clinton administration, waiting for an empty vessel they could fill. Along comes George W. Bush, who had barely ever been out of the country and whose views on foreign policy were -- shall we say -- unformed. By the time you looked around, the neocons had set up shop:

Scooter Libby was running Vice President Dick Cheney's office, which was running the White House; and Cheney's old pal and boss, Donald Rumsfeld, was running the Pentagon with the help of Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith; and every eager-beaver Young Republican in the country was walking around with the Standard in his jacket pocket; and they had Bush so locked, cocked and ready to rock that the dust at Ground Zero was still settling and he was already looking for an excuse to invade Iraq.

So now all the flesh has been ripped off the fish by predators (Democrats, media people, Quisling Republicans); CIA director George Tenet has been tossed over the side (wait `til he writes HIS book), as has Ahmed Chalabi, war provocateur and one-time neocon poster child. The president has made nice with France, of all places, and checked in with the United Nations before installing Chalabi's old rival as Iraq's prime minister.

It's a bad time to be a neocon. All of their assumptions were wrong. Postwar Iraq turned out to be a dog's breakfast. The high-tech, high-speed military is so desperate for troops it's planning to offer bonuses of up to $10,000 to sailors and airmen who would otherwise muster out of the Navy and Air Force. The weapons of mass destruction haven't been found and democracy isn't flowering. But still, Bill Kristol is standing tall.

I think of what Tin Cup McAvoy tells Romeo, his caddy, about risks that don't pay off: "If I had it to all over again, I'd still hit that shot."

And Romeo says, "Man, you'd bury yourself alive just to prove you could handle the shovel."

Which brings us to President Bush. He was out on the campaign trail last week saying it was OK to invade Iraq because Saddam "had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them."

Be afraid, Canada. Be very afraid.

--Kevin Horrigan is a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Readers may write to him at: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 900 North Tucker Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63101, or e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..