Iraq has held its first free and contested elections since Mohammed was a little boy, chasing infidels across the Tigris River with ITRs (Improvised Throwing Rocks.) There is great rejoicing.
Before we get all damp about this momentous event, let’s see what passes for “free” and “contested” elections in Iraq. The entire country has been under a curfew that lasts essentially from dark till dawn. No civilian vehicles were allowed on the roads. No candidate names were listed on the ballots; voters chose slates identified only by party name. The locations of the polling places weren’t even made public until a few days ago. This was done to keep the insurgents from blowing up all the voting booths and killing the election workers before the election. They killed enough of them in Mosul that the rest of them quit, anyway. I’d pay money for some reporter to ask Don Rumsfeld what he thinks about the prospects of cleaning up those few remaining "dead-enders" (his term) now.
As near as I can figure, election day for a public-spirited Iraqi means dressing warmly in whatever shrapnel-resistant clothing he can round up, sneaking to the polling place on foot, carrying shopping bags and carpentry tools so he can deny he’s going to vote, just in case an armed man asks. He skulks in to vote, hoping the joint doesn’t get blown up while he’s there. Finally he get to make his way home via the most indirect route imaginable so no one follows him home and blows up the wife and kids. This is Iraqi democracy in action, Dubya-style.
The Bush Administration will announce a great victory and milestone, even if a only hundred people in the whole country are driven in Abrams fighting vehicles under heavy air cover so they can vote. We’d take them in Humvees, but they’re only safe enough for our soldiers, not Iraqis, since some of the extra money for armor was diverted to pay for inauguration security.
Thank God our long national nightmare is over. There will be a duly elected provisional Iraqi government in place in a few weeks, frantically churning out a constitution to make James Madison blush in time for year-end elections. Today’s inspiring events will bring Shi’ites, Sunnis, and Kurds together in a hand-holding celebration of goodwill not seen since the NFL stopped using “Up With People” as Super Bowl halftime entertainment. Our kids in uniform will be home by Christmas.
Right after the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.