The top five Technorati blog searches for New Year's Day went as follows: four for Saddam's execution video, and one for Britney. Seems appropriate. As the masked Shiite hangmen chanted and danced their Moqtada jig around the dead dictator, the cellphone camera action seemed like pirated footage from a music concert.
In the karmic playbook, Saddam was pure evil. He caused too many people to suffer. He deserved to die. (Though I would have preferred that he'd spend his final days playing gin rummy with another former strongman ally turned enemy, Manuel Noriega, in a small, cramped federal cell in Florida. I bet Saddam would have demanded and got the top bunk.)
Saddam's hasty departure from this world was like something you'd stage at a Texas backyard barbeque that lasted too long into the night. "Hey, we're inviting our Iraqi cousins over, and as much as we love them, well, they have their own customs and tend to get unpredictable."
So the world now has proof once again of what happens when you blend Texas frontier justice with Shitte tribal payback.
But can we really believe that the Bush people couldn't have delayed the hanging? (Readers, please note that U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales never stayed or reversed a death sentence when he ran the gallows in the Lone Star State.)
It's mind-numbing that Dubya chose his precious Crawford beauty sleep over picking up a secured satellite phone and telling Prime Minister Maliki that it was in his country's best interests to delay the execution. "We've got over 130,000 troops there, probably 30,000 more in 60 days, we're dumping billions of dollars into your Mesopotamia quagmire every month, and you can't buy some time?"
So now U.S. troops will tragically bear the bitter fruit of yet another bad Bush decision and missed opportunity in an endless skein of misguided calculations and inexplicable indifference (it's hard to tell one from the other with this White House).
Snuffing a Sunni leader on an Islamic holy day is just bad business. Rank and file Sunnis are understandably incensed, riled, and really pissed off.
Given the circumstances, Tony Soprano would have waited for the right moment before whacking a foe. Even the gang-bangers on The Wire consider church-going Sunday pretty much off-limits for seeking revenge on their rivals.
In Iraq, as the saying goes: You break it, you fix it. Well, Saddam's neck is broken, and there's no fixing Iraq.
The fast-splintering, debt-plagued country might as well consider televising pay-per view hangings when it's Chemical Ali's time to swing from the rope.
As bad as things are in Iraq, you don't want to stick your neck out in Iran. In that progressive theocracy, hanging is done using a large crane: victims are hoisted up and then forced to dangle helplessly; here death by strangulation can take up to 30 minutes.
Still, given the dark, disagreeable and questionable sequence of events surrounding Saddam's final exit, I don't think it's bad taste to ask this last impertinent question: when that thick, heavily coiled hemp noose shows up on eBay, what will be its starting bid?