FRESNO -- A lot of office boys like to talk about "old school." I'll tell you who was old school: Saddam Hussein. Saddam died beautiful. It's the truth and you know it. Fact is, the longer we stay in Iraq the better Saddam looks. He never had a tenth of our money or weaponry but he did what we can't: kept that bag of snakes in order.
And what a way to go! Damn, did you see that cellphone video of his death? A bunch of Shia monkeys in ski masks woofing at him -- safe behind their masks, with Saddam handcuffed and under guard -- woofing like cockapoos at a pit bull heading for the Pound's death cell. And Saddam laughed at them, especially when they chanted the name of their pissant Imam, Moqtada al-Sadr. You can hear him on that jerky cellphone video sneering, "Moqtada?" And Saddam earned the right to laugh; he killed Sadr Sr. and kept Junior so terrified he didn't dare show his fat face until Saddam was gone and only the wimp occupiers were in charge.
Saddam told the ski-mask monkeys they weren't real men. And he had the right to say that too. Call him what you want, but Saddam was a man, a real man. One of the last. To me, watching that execution was like watching Planet of the Apes: a bunch of de-evolved primates killing the last man. Saddam looked like the 20th century in that overcoat and hat. He'd lost weight in prison. Never flinched, not once. You try that: going to the gallows with your blood enemies screaming insults at you. See if you can hold your bladder, never mind answer back as fast and calm as he did.
The 20th was a good century, bloody and unbowed, as the man said. We're going to miss it when it's gone. It's hanging on in places here and there at the edge of the office world, but we're doing our best to finish it off, and that hanging was a big step in that wrong direction.
Sure, Saddam was a killer. Don't you get it by now? In a place like Iraq, killing is how you run things. Sure, Saddam boosted his clan, his people; you think Sadr's goons are going to be any less vicious about boosting their tribe? They're not off to a very good start, promoting interfaith cooperation by torturing Sunnis to death and stacking their stinking corpses in old trucks dropped off at the nearest bus stop.
Blaming Saddam for being what he was is like blaming a rattlesnake for killing. That's how it lives, and it's what that Crocodile Hunter guy would've called "a bee-YOO-tiful ambush predator." Saddam was right for Iraq the way a Sidewinder is right for the Mojave. The NeoCons scared us by shaking his fangs in our faces, as if Saddam planned to bite every single commuter in LA, when all he wanted to do was stay alive and in power -- because those were the same thing for him -- in the Iraqi desert, where everything stings, sticks or bites. We may as well have gone on a crusade to wipe out all the snakes and spiders in the desert for being what they are. Only difference is, we wouldn't have lost 3000 soldiers that way.
Until we hooked him out of his burrow, the only thing Saddam had really done to America has hand us our most glorious victory since Inchon, in Gulf War I. He was like a lot of Third-World rulers: great at internal security but hopeless at conventional war. Like a rattler, he was totally harmless to anybody with the brains God gave a stray dog.
Meaning, anybody but Bush and Cheney. Those dudes remind me of this Darwin-Award winner who went to the hereafter on Lake Berryessa. He was fishing, noticed a rattler swimming beside his boat, grabbed it -- and when his fishing buddy told him to throw it away, this genius said, "Oh, no, it's harmless -- look!" and held it up to his face to show how harmless it was. The snake did us all a favor and took his genes out of the pool by biting him right on the nose, and he died before his buddy could power back to shore.
That was Saddam's last favor to us: showing us -- the hard way, no denying that -- how flat-out stupid our bigwigs really are. Bush is standing up at the podium every press conference with that rattler dangling from his nose like a mega-booger, yelping, "I'm fine, I'm fine!" but one of these days, and none too soon, he'll pass out and pass on, thanks to Saddam.
We did Saddam an accidental favor in return by giving him a rare old-school death. Maybe that's not important for some of you moral-types but it would be to my heroes. It would matter to John Paul Jones, it would matter to Alexander, it would matter to Subotai, and it matters to me. I wish I could have a death like that. Instead I'll die the same way you will, tubes coming out of my fat carcass, leaning over to watch the cardio beeper zig when it's supposed to zag, scared out of my head and ashamed to look down at this civilian belly hyperventilating its last chickenshit breaths.
Not Saddam. We may not have meant to, but we showed him the ultimate respect. And he deserved it. He's wherever the real men go; where Pancho Villa went, and Patton, and Richthofen. Not heaven, but someplace way, way better.