For the first time in over 50 years, Iraqis have seen a ballot that wasn’t some variation of this:

President of Iraq – check one:

( ) Saddam Hussein

( ) Yank out my fingernails

To show that they voted in the country’s first free election in over 50 years, Iraqis dipped a finger in purple ink at the polls. Somehow, this has ended up being a hard thing for some to handle.

Iraqis with ink on their fingers made some angry, but Americans with ink on their fingers was what peeved Janeane Garofalo, radio host, sometime actress, part-time comedian and full-time wrong. Garofalo was upset that some Republican members of Congress dipped their fingers in ink before Bush’s State of the Union address to show solidarity with the Iraqi voters.

On MSNBC’s “After Hours” program, Garofalo told both of the cable network’s viewers that the symbolism of the ink-dipped fingers of Congress was disgusting. “As if they have solidarity with the Iraqis who braved physical threats against their lives to vote … as if somehow these inked-fingered Republicans have something to do with that,” Garofalo stated.

I’m no foreign affairs expert, but I’m guessing that an ink-on-the-finger Republican sure has a lot more to do with the first free election in Iraq than an egg-on-the-face member of the American left, who have turned out to be wrong at every turn.

Besides, what’s really bothersome to Garofalo is the symbolism.

The American left are the Kings and Queens of symbolism. They invented symbolism and practice such with jaw-dropping virtuosity. They’re the Thomas Edisons, Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrongs and Michael Jordans of symbolism. Liberals like Garofalo are the biggest ribbon-wearing, peace-sign making, “you can’t hug your kids with nuclear arms” bumper sticker displaying, “sit-in,” “bed-in,” “dead-in,” three-minute hunger-strike to call for a free Tibet having, “concert against Bush” attending bunch of pests on the planet. But some Republicans dip a digit in ink because they’re happy a formerly oppressed nation was able to vote in a free election, and Garofalo and the like view that as a display of useless, pointless symbolism? It’s nice to see that Janeane hasn’t given up comedy.

Garofalo isn’t alone. Congressional Democrats, reeling at Bush’s successes, tried to make up some ground in the Democrats’ response following the president’s State of the Union address.

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid and California Rep. Nancy Pelosi delivered the Bush rebuttal. In contrast to the fire, energy and vision of the Bush speech, Reid and Pelosi appeared to be offering desperate pleas in a political hostage video.

Concerning Social Security, Reid said, “… the Bush plan isn’t really Social Security reform … It’s more like Social Security roulette.” Yes, giving citizens control of what happens to their money is very risky – to power-hungry politicians.

After Harry Reid’s comments, it was Nancy Pelosi’s turn. At first, viewers may have been distracted by what would appear to be plastic surgery performed by a doctor who doesn’t know his own strength, which has left Pelosi with a lift that goes higher than a Sears Tower elevator. The Democrats’ response quickly turned to Iraq and concerns that we’re stuck in a quagmire with no strategy for ending America’s presence there. “Exit strategy” is a grave concern, which sounds odd coming from a group of people who don’t have a coherent “entrance strategy” to anything … except your wallet.

If you were for the war or not, it’s now in everybody’s best interest that democracy take hold in the Middle East. It’s been over 25 years since Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq. He’s gone now, but still alive. In the back of Iraqi minds, where the worst nightmares are stored, is the thought that he could return, minus two sons, plus claustrophobia.

Iraqis have been through a lot. Murder, rape, torture and oppression. They’ve seen the Iran-Iraq War, where both countries suffered through an 8-year stalemate with millions of casualties. They’ve seen streets littered with the bodies of gassed Kurds, and been dragged off by an army whose “draft board” consisted of two guys throwing them in the back of a van at two o’clock in the morning.

Hussein’s out of power, there are free elections in Iraq, and democratic rule is on the way to replacing tyranny. The fact that the liberation of Iraq is so controversial, and has caused so many people to flip their lids, makes me think that we’ve finally found that “weapon of mass destruction” – and it is freedom put into motion by a president they can’t stand.

At this point, if only symbolically, we’ve either got ink on our fingers or egg on our faces. Choose ink.

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