In the 1980s, one of my favorite characters on “Saturday Night Live” was the hilarious pathological liar Tommy Flanagan, portrayed by comedian Jon Lovitz. He was the guy who claimed to be simultaneously married to Morgan Fairchild and a “young Elizabeth Taylor,” and made “Yeah, that’s the ticket!” a national catchphrase.
Now, many years later, the Flanagan legacy lives on – this time in reality TV in coverage of the war with Iraq.
Muhammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, a.k.a ‘Baghdad Bob’
The part of the lovable liar who seems to go out of his way to flay the truth is Iraqi information minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, dubbed “Baghdad Bob” by the likes of Fox News. He’s the steadfast defender of Saddam Hussein’s regime, possibly still denying there are any Americans in Iraq.
While Saddam’s star is fading, al-Sahhaf’s profile is skyrocketing with a new website dedicated to praise for him. It’s called WeLoveTheIraqiInformationMinister.com, and was created last week by Kieran Mulvaney, a British native and former Greenpeace activist now living in Alaska.
“I mentioned to one of my friends that the best part [of the war coverage] is watching this guy,” Mulvaney told Reuters. “He is so brazen that I could almost admire him.”
Within three days, Mulvaney and his buds put together the page, just in time for the fall of Baghdad and the disappearance of al-Sahhaf – or, as the site puts it, the beginning of “administrative leave.”
The site documents a listing of some of Sahhaf’s best quotes:
- “There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!”
- “My feelings – as usual – we will slaughter them all.”
- “Our initial assessment is that they will all die.”
- “I blame Al-Jazeera – they are marketing for the Americans!”
- “God will roast their stomachs in hell at the hands of Iraqis.”
- “They’re coming to surrender or be burned in their tanks.”
- “No I am not scared and neither should you be!”
- “We are not afraid of the Americans. Allah has condemned them. They are stupid. They are stupid … and they are condemned.”
- “Let the American infidels bask in their illusion.”
- “I triple guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad.”
- “We are in control. They are in a state of hysteria. Losers, they think that by killing civilians and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win. I think they will not win, those bastards.”
- “We have placed them in a quagmire from which they can never emerge except dead.”
- “Washington has thrown their soldiers on the fire.”
- “I speak better English than this villain Bush.”
Such command of English vocabulary exudes credibility and demands respect from anyone within earshot. At the very least, the humor factor invokes a sense of joviality and a dash of forgiveness.
So the infomeister’s comments got me thinking: What if some Americans with credibility problems adopted his technique of making lies entertaining?
Could they free themselves from the pit of disdain? Can the Democratic Party save itself by emulating Baghdad Bob? Learning to be a bit more “Sahhaf-spoken” as I call it just might do the trick.
Here are some examples I came up with.
- Martin Sheen: “I’m a much better president than this villain Bush. Thank God ‘West Wing’ is not just a television show. Becoming supreme leader in this glorious fashion will have the infidels enjoying my legacy and that of my sons Charlie and Emilio for generations to come.”
- The Dixie Chicks: “Our initial assessment is that our careers will all die, but we’re still ecstatic. Performing at birthday parties is a much more intimate and rewarding experience than having millions of adoring fans filling our bank accounts.”
- Al Gore: “Let the American infidels bask in their illusion that George W. Bush won in 2000. At least I have my Internet.”
- Geraldo Rivera: “Washington has thrown my mustache on the fire.”
- Peter Arnett: “I blame NBC – they are marketing for the Americans!”
- Tom Daschle: “We Democrats are in control. They, the Republicans, are in a state of hysteria. Losers, they think that by stealing elections and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win. I think they will not win, those bastards.”
- Janet Reno: “Of course I support heterosexual rights. Why wouldn’t I?”
- Bill Clinton: “When I said ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman,’ I was really referring to the infidel Hillary.”
- Hillary Clinton: “Like all New Yorkers, I feel pretty, oh so pretty.”
- Janeane Garofalo: “My feelings – as usual – I have slaughtered them all. I can’t tell you how honored I am to be this mutli-million dollar box-office draw. Thank goodness Americans flock in droves to see my brilliance, giving me this firm foundation of credibility.”
- Richard Gere: “I was just kidding about all that Buddhism stuff. I’m really a Muslim.”
- Rosie O’Donnell: “God will roast my stomach in hell.”
- Rev. Jesse Jackson: “There’s no ‘love child’ in my family. Never!”
- Rev. Al Sharpton: “Hey, save some of Rosie’s roasted stomach for me!”
- Michael Moore: “No, I am not American, and neither should you be!”
- Alec Baldwin: “I have placed myself in a quagmire from which I can never emerge – except in France.”
- The French: “We’re coming to surrender or be burned in our tanks – if we had any.”
- California Gov. Gray Davis: “I triple guarantee you, there are no blackouts this summer.”
The potential for quotes is almost endless. But this might prompt the rodents in your brain to get on the exercise wheel to help you think up some more, and it just may better prepare you to handle the forthcoming propaganda in the next election cycle.