What must Gaddafi be thinking right now? As Libya turns itself inside out looking for him and Tripoli suffers the consequences of unbridled and unskilled streetfighting I wonder what he is thinking to himself.
Perhaps it is: "Why weren't they grateful?"
This last line of Robert A. Caro's epic appraisal of Robert Moses comes to mind. Caro imagines the defenders and beneficiaries of Moses asking this as they reflect on his tarnished legacy. And as Moses and Gaddafi surely share a vaulted sense of self I imagine Gaddafi thought the same thing as the fires engulfed his country these past seven months.
Many have commented on Gaddafi's denial. I beg to differ. He knows no denial. Denial would imply a conscious (or even semi-conscious) turning away from the reality that is embraced by everyone else. This is his reality and he cannot fathom why the rest of the world isn't down on bended knee taking notes on what his own private paradise looks like.
The video of soon-to-be executed Romanian despot Nicolae Ceauşescu's final speech on December 21st, 1989 (viewable on YouTube) is a brilliant 3-minute distillation of what I'm talking about. The look on Ceauşescu's face as the crowd turns on him is one of total confusion.
Not anger. Not annoyance. Confusion.
"Why weren't they grateful?" he seems to be wondering.
But I am grateful to Gaddafi for one thing: he was stubborn.
Had he conceded an inch on reforms or spread the wealth to anyone other than his odious offspring he might have lasted. But he never did. He bullied and he blustered and just like the Pharaoh to the east he crumbled.
Even after all he took from my father, my family and our friends I'm indebted to him for how I've grown since the revolution began. Gaddafi's greed is directly responsible for the renewed sense of pride I feel today in being Libyan.
And so thanks, Colonel Gaddafi.
Countless lives you ruined.
Long you reigned. Long may you rot.