02/24/2011 01:26 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Gaddafi's Loyal-ish Translator

As widely reported, Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is not only defiantly refusing to step down, but he is a tribute to defiance itself.

Gaddafi is so defiant, he refuses to even acknowledge that he's ruled Libya at all.

These are not amateur levels of denial -- like Hosni -- "I am Egypt" -- Mubarak. (And really, "l'etat, c'est moi" is so Louis XIV!)

Nope. Gaddafi's just a revolutionary. "If I were President," he said, "I would have thrown my resignation in your face." But he's got nothing to resign from - as if acting as if he didn't run the place with an iron fist for 40 years will make all those protesters simply go away.

Dealing with this, of course, is Gaddafi's loyal translator.

Loyal-ish, anyway.

The translator, you see, is one of my favorite people. I think. I really don't know. But I've been a fan of Gaddafi's translator since September 2009 -- when he screamed, "I can't take it any more" and collapsed ninety minutes in to Gaddafi's "fifteen" minute speech before the UN General Assembly.

I'd like to think that it's the same young-sounding man, Omar -- I've named him Omar -- who translated such recent pearls as the other day's "[The protesters] are a group that are sick, taking hallucinatory drugs," and "we won't lose victory from these greasy rats and cats."

But who is Omar, really? The coddled scion of the Libyan elite? A staunch defender of "Mad Dog" Gaddafi's 40-year reign? A venal and self-serving lackey, the sinecurist heir to the translating throne?

I'd like to think not. I'd like to think that, in addition to being Gaddafi's voice to the outside world, Omar is the voice of reason in Gaddafi's inner circle. You know -- a nice guy, in an impossible job. Someone who really has Libya's best interests at heart, and knows that it's time for the old man to go.

So if there were a conversation, before that speech, within Gaddafi's inner circle -- which at this point I imagine has been reduced to Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam el-Gaddafi, and Omar - - it may have gone a little like this:


Omar approaches Gaddafi in a lavish room of the dictator's home, the exterior of which was left dilapidated since Ronald Reagan's 1986 air strike. Gaddafi's 39 year-old son, Saif, is also there, admiring the protective shapes of some of his father's 40 female bodyguards.

Gaddafi waves his hand at Omar, indicating he has permission to speak.

"Colonel, I think it's important for you to know that the people have renamed our second city 'Free' Benghazi, and have raised the 1951 flag over the city."

Gaddafi remains impassive.

"What's more, the entire eastern part of the country has fallen to the revolutionaries, and they're rapidly approaching Tripoli," Omar says. "Maybe it's time to start listening to their demands."

Gaddafi exhales. "I don't know how they think they can overthrow me when I don't have any title. I am a revolutionary just like them!"

"That's not how they see it, sir," Omar says. "Just by pretending those 40 years didn't take place isn't going to make the protesters go away."

A chill falls over the room. "Tell me again why I didn't throw you in jail after how you humiliated me at the General Assembly?" Gaddafi asks. Even Saif looks up.

Omar pauses. He didn't spend the first half of his life studying English so he could spend the second half a political prisoner.

"It's just that they've been watching Egypt, sir, and they're beginning to get ideas."

"I am the Glory that is Libya," says Gaddafi.

"Of course you are, sir -- but Mubarak thought he was the-"

"Mubarak!" Gaddafi spits. "Don't talk to me about the American stooge."

Omar exhales. Time for a different tack. He tries again. "Maybe it's time you start considering your revolutionary legacy, Colonel."

He has Gaddafi's attention.

"You see, the Interior Minister resigned the other day, to join the protesters. The Libyan delegation to the UN resigned for the same reason. And two Air Force pilots defected with their planes to Malta."

Gaddafi nods.

"But since you are the Glory of Libya, the one true revolutionary, why should they be getting all the credit? You could, you know, join the protesters and uhh - leave the palace," Omar says.

Gaddafi looks puzzled.

"I mean -- let someone else sit in the palace, not enjoying the glories of the revolution for a while. You've been sacrificing for so long. "

Omar holds his breath while Gaddafi ponders.

"We could kill the Lockerbie bomber," Seif suggests. "Everyone's mad that he hasn't died yet, so let's execute him now."

Gaddafi and Omar both ignore him.

"I will die a martyr in Egypt," Gaddafi declares.

"Of course you will. But see -- a lot of rulers talk a big game about martyrdom -- I mean, look at Iran," Omar says. "But how many of them really do it? You could be the one to set an example for the Yemenis, the Bahrainis - everyone who thinks they know a thing or two about glory."

"What would I have to do?" asks Gaddafi.

"Leave the palace - that's all, and you're on your way toward glorious martyrdom," Omar says.

Gaddafi looks lost in thought.

"Enough of this! I'm going to make a speech!" Gaddafi exclaims, heading out to the front of his palace. "You will translate! Come!"

Omar deflates. "I should have defected in New York when I had the chance," he mumbles under his breath, following Gaddafi out the door.