"Imagination can only serve those who are without prejudice; just one doubt is enough to sour it." – Donatien Alphonse Françoise de Sade (1740-1814)
FORT GRATIOT, Mich. -- The pain of a kidney stone, I discovered last week, is excruciating.
The one tonic for the unbearable throb -- besides the morphine -- is Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Iraq's minister of information.
There is a growing cult devoted to al-Sahaf, who is presently on a "leave of absence." If you watched any news when the war began, it's likely you caught some of his act. He was the beret-wearing mouthpiece spouting off the most amazing lies and propaganda.
It was priceless. Better than the tame, amatuer Bill Cowher mad at the refs in a postgame press conference any day.
al-Sahaf's fabrications were pathetic and amusing because they flew so arrogantly in the face of a reality that even grotesque tools like al-Jazeera couldn't refute. Hollywood couldn't create such a character. He was so blatant that no screenwriter could have created a campier cartoon.
The best of it was, Baghdad Bob seemed to believe every word. Even with bombs dropping in the background, al-Sahaf was the Iraqi Rock of Gibraltar in a beret and cheap uniform. He was fantastic. It doesn't matter if you're for or against the war, this guy was an island unto himself.
Geraldo? Peter Arnett? Gee-Dub? Saddam? All poseurs and dilettantes next to al-Sahaf. Not even in his league.
Here's a sample of some of al-Sahaf's statements, courtesy of the Web site welovetheiragiinformationminister.com (I'm not making that up, try it). Remember, this stuff was said in dead seriousness. I think he actually believed it:
- "There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!" (This is considered the classic)
- "My feelings -- as usual -- we will slaughter them all!" (At least he's in touch with his feelings)
- "Our initial assessment is that they will all die." (This one is great because it starts so matter-of-fact)
- "We have destroyed 2 tanks, fighter planes, 2 helicopters and their shovels -- We have driven them back." (Shovels? I can't even begin to explain that one)
- "We have them surrounded in their tanks." (Suuure, you do …)
- "The American press is all about lies! All they tell is lies, lies and more lies!" (He's closer to the mark than he realizes with this one)
- "Lying is forbidden in Iraq. President Saddam Hussein will tolerate nothing but truthfulness as he is a man of great honor and integrity. Everyone is encouraged to speak freely of the truths evidenced in their eyes and hearts." (And then be shot for it)
- "I triple guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad." (Well, if it's a triple guarantee, it must be true. Ari Fleischer, take note)
- "Yes, the American troops have advanced further. This will only make it easier for us to defeat them." (You have to admire the genius of the logic)
- "It has been rumored that we have fired scud missiles into Kuwait. I am here now to tell you, we do not have any scud missiles and I don't know why they were fired into Kuwait." (This one still makes me laugh, days later)
Not to be outdone, Mohsen Khalil, Iraq's ambassador to the Arab League, had this to say on April 9: "Iraq will not be defeated. Iraq has now already achieved victory -- apart from some technicalities."
By that logic, we can say the Browns have won several Super Bowls -- apart from some technicalities.
In fact, from now on, we're going to adopt the Iraqi method of explanation.
Playoff loss to Pittsburgh? Not hardly! That was a magnificent victory over the godless infidels. Didn't you see it? They were smited with shoes. The wise and brave Kelly Holcomb led a furious attack that sent the dogs seeking their mother's breast.
In fact, the Steelers committed suicide at the gates of Heinz Field. There were no Steelers in Heinz Field, none!
I recommend Carmen Policy and Butch Davis immediately hire al-Sahaf to give the team's injury report each week during the season … "Tim Couch has no concussion! Kelly Holcomb does not have a broken leg! These are lies spread by the infidels of the media. Tony Grossi is a snake and we will strike him with shoes. I will prove it to you in one hour! You shall see! Tim Couch's head is made of pure titanium and Kelly Holcomb has entered himself into the 100-meter dash in the Damascus Games. I quadruple, double-dawg guarantee it. Allah akbar!"
That'd be every bit as believable as the lies and slander that emerge now from the Berea headquarters. al-Sahaf would bring an element of theater sorely lacking with the Browns. Fans and reporters alike could look forward to something each week besides the game. The Berea Bob show would pack ‘em in. Who knows what sort of insane gibberish he's spout off? His flair for dramatic, if slightly muddled, language and rhetoric put the WWF to shame.
We need this guy. Take off that silly beret and stick some of those floppy dog ears on the headband on his dome and we've got an invaluable marketing tool. And I stress tool.
Ahh, but that's just wishful thinking. al-Sahaf is likely sipping mai tai cocktails with Baby Doc on the Syrian Rivearia these days. Meanwhile, the Browns continue their grim slide … more on that another day.
On a more somber note, as the war mercifully winds down, let's take a second and remember the American and British servicemen that gave their lives when their nations called them to war. Let's especially recall the men from Northeast Ohio that fell. I've no idea if they were Browns fans, but in my book, they're honorary Dawgs forevermore.
Here they are:
1st Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, age 38, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. Army
Pfc. Christian D. Gunter, age 19, Ohio City, Ohio, U.S. Marine Corps
Pfc. Brandon Sloan, age 19, Bedford, Ohio, U.S. Army
SPEAKING OF MORPHINE …
The business about the kidney stone is all too true. Kee-rist, what an awful experience. It's what Art Modell would suffer in his soul had he an ounce of one left.
This nasty business began last Wednesday morning. Disguising itself as the typical lower back throb after a night of vodka sans toilet, it slowly revealed itself as something more than the manifestation of justice after hours and hours in a frenetic booze orgy.
After a half hour of stretches, contortions and failed potty visits, the ugly realization hit me that I'd have to drive myself to the hospital. Not easy hung over with a rock stuck the size of David Modell's intellect lodged in your gut.
The sawbones at the local hospital (Their motto: You stab ‘em, we slab ‘em!) fixed me up reeeal good with several IV pushes of morphine. Then they sent me packing with a prescription for the kinda stuff that makes Brett Favre weak in the knees, a super version of Vicodin. Good lord, this stuff would take the pain away from a gunshot wound.
Of course, when you're a mutton-head