Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.


Bill C. Davis

Like a figure you love to hate in Wrestlemania operas, Saddam is a pumped-up hyped reality whose intense wattage is useful to the extent that it gives a patina of heroism to the very people who have given him his star status on the international stage. His resume is downloaded daily – hourly – so that his capture gives honor and morality to the immoral and the dishonorable.

Saddam was a symptom caused by a condition. The condition remains - the symptoms will change names and locations – and the likes of Bush will dress themselves in white and mount the military like a mighty steed and sally forth to distinguish themselves by conquering the reality they themselves helped to create.

The war and occupation lay the groundwork for the next Saddam. Whoever it is will be installed, encouraged and harnessed and he’ll behave until he either gets a vision, a message from God, a delusion of grandeur or a better offer. Then his villainy, which at one point was characterized as an asset, will be billed as intolerable evil.

Saddam needs to be given stature so that Bush as conqueror will also appear to have stature. Saddamania and Wrestlemania use the same marketing tactic: make the villain fabulous so the hero is super heroic. When Bush talks about Saddam he drips with disgust and disdain. His ability to be moved by Saddam’s evil implies that he is the champion not only of the Iraqi people but also of all things good in the world.

It’s easy to join the fever pitch of the fight. It’s not unlike watching a cock fight. You can find yourself rooting for one bird over the other but the nagging question is what am I doing watching and investing in it in the first place.

Bush creates a primitive tug. He prefers you would be ashamed that you would question any tactic that would cause the desired result of bringing down the villain. To Bush, questioning how and who wanted the sociopath to become what he was is as irrelevant as the UN. Bush deals with symptoms not conditions. He sees evil as a proper noun.

Like throwing a piece of red meat to a hungry crowd the capture plays like a blockbuster. It’s irresistible, satisfying and climactic – but the Iraqi narrative will continue. As Michael Ware of Time magazine warns – this is not over – the insurgents, many of whom saw Saddam as a Western creation, care less about the capture and more about the occupation. This occupation they perceive to be a continuation more than an antidote to Saddam.

Saddamania is red hot. His billing is as preemptive as the war itself. The cover of Newsweek and Time bumped Howard Dean and Jesus Christ respectively for the image of the homeless dictator. Like Bush and company those venerable publications know what sells.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis was a playwright, writer, actor, and political activist.  He has been a contributor to Common Dreams since 2001. Bill died on February 26, 2021, at age 69, after a battle with COVID-19. Bill's Broadway debut — “Mass Appeal,” earned two Tony nominations and became a staple of community theater. Bill wrote the screenplay for the 1984 film adaptation of "Mass Appeal," starring Jack Lemmon and Zeljko Ivanek. 

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

3 Million People Have Died of Covid Since Rich Nations Began Obstructing Vaccine Patent Waiver

"Every one of those deaths is a mark of shame for the governments of countries like the U.K. and Germany who have protected patents over human lives."

Jake Johnson ·

27 Groups Urge Congress to Close FBI 'Backdoor Search' Loophole

"Ending this unconstitutional practice is imperative to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance does not swallow Americans' privacy rights."

Brett Wilkins ·

300+ Civil Society Groups Counter-Mobilize Against UN Food Systems Summit

"Repeating the agri-business-as-usual model to solve the food and climate crisis cannot deliver on the holistic and systemic transformation of our food systems we need today."

Kenny Stancil ·

House Dems Ask ExxonMobil Lobbyist to Testify About Climate Misinformation

"For decades, the fossil fuel industry and its allies have used the same tactics as the tobacco industry to spread denial and doubt about the harm of its products," the letter states.

Brett Wilkins ·