September 29, 2003


Defeated by the G’Day/G’day conundrum, Margo Kingston now opts for an all-caps alternative:

G 'DAY. I quit smoking last week, after a 26-year heavy habit. It's a job best done alone, so there's no-one to cop the blame for the shakes, the headaches and the depression while your body works out how to live without the prop that's killing it.

Send your cartons of cigarettes to Margo care of The Sydney Morning Herald, 201 Sussex St, Sydney NSW 2000.

Maybe that explains my confusion when I read George Bush's speech to the United Nations on why, after he spurned the UN as irrelevant and invaded Iraq without its sanction and against the majority of world and expert opinion, the world had to give him troops and money to win his war.

Does anything explain Margo’s confusion?

For a shocked moment, I thought he was admitting he was wrong to wage a war of aggression against a country which posed no threat to it, because this turned Americans into the gangsters we want to defeat and pre-emptive wars make the world a more frightening, threatening place for us all.

Except for Iraqis who were previously frightened and threatened by Saddam Hussein. But who cares about them?

John Howard is the prop that's killing us.

The Prime Minister is a deadly tarlike carcinogen? But only a couple of weeks ago Margo was angrily refuting claims that she’d ever labelled the Prime Minister a “mass murderer”.

I'll never forget what the father of the US Senate, Robert Byrd, said on the eve of war. I cry every time I read it.

Reader of Margo’s Webdiary can relate. She seems easily able to forget Byrd’s Klan past, however.

Maybe tough old General Wesley Clark, who opposed the Iraq war and is standing as a Democratic candidate for the US presidency, will help Americans recapture the vision.

Yes, Margo. A vision like this:

”And I'm very glad we've got the great team in office, men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice ... people I know very well - our president George W. Bush. We need them there.”

Nicotine-deprived Margo just can’t keep up. Here’s her latest:

The frontrunner Democratic candidate for president, General Wesley Clark, revealed last week that he refused requests from the Bush administration to publicly link Iraq with S11 within days of the attack on the World Trade Centre because there was no evidence of a link.

This is an extraordinary statement from a paid journalist. Clark “revealed” this claim on June 15 last year. He’s since altered his alleged source, as George Will chronicles:

July 1: “A fellow in Canada who is part of a Middle Eastern think tank ... I'm not going to go into those sources. ... People told me things in confidence that I don't have any right to betray.”

July 18: “No one from the White House asked me to link Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11.”

August 25: It came from “a Middle East think tank in Canada, the man who's the brother of a very close friend of mine in Belgium. He's very well connected to Israeli intelligence ... I haven't changed my position. There's no waffling on it. It's just as clear as could be.”

But not clear enough for Margo, who doesn’t even have the excuse that smoke got in her eyes.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 29, 2003 04:29 AM

...except George Will is also completely full of shit, and Clark never "revealed" any such thing, ever.

Posted by: Andrew Northrup at September 29, 2003 at 04:40 AM

Which makes Margo look even better, don't it?

Posted by: tim at September 29, 2003 at 04:43 AM

Robert Byrd is not the father of the US Senate. The Grand Wizard, maybe, but definately not the father.

He is the father of much West Virginain pork however.

Posted by: Brian O'Connell at September 29, 2003 at 04:56 AM

"My wife and I were invited over to a neighbor's home 12 days ago where Clark told those gathered that certain people, acting on behalf of the Bush administration, called him immediately after the attacks on September 11th and asked him to go on TV to tell the country that Saddam Hussein was "involved" in the attacks. He asked them for proof, but they couldn't provide any. He refused their request."

Posted by: Andrew M at September 29, 2003 at 04:57 AM

I have some sympathy for Margo. Every time Robert Byrd lifts his sheet to speak on the floor of the Senate, I cry too.

Posted by: timks at September 29, 2003 at 07:10 AM

So the Margolianoid "quit smoking last week after a 26 year heavy habit"!!!! Would love to hear regular updates on this bold claim. Like in 3 weeks, 3 months and of course 3 years. It aint over till then!

Posted by: Kate at September 29, 2003 at 08:09 AM

With a distorted view of the world like that - she really needs those smokes. I mean if I was that screwed up I would need about 2 packs a day.

I think she has no chance of quitting.

Maybe we should start a betting pool to gauge when she will light up again.... 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks?

Posted by: Rob at September 29, 2003 at 10:10 AM

I see an historical parallel here. During the French revolution Marat's serious skin condition meant that he had to spend most of the day in a bath, soaking in mineral salts to relieve the pain. The pain was supposed to have fuelled his furious rants against the Girondins (moderates).

And what was Marat's main claim? That all France's problems - even crop failures - were the fault of the Girondins.

Substitute "Liberals" for "Girondins" and you have Citizen Margo's entire manifesto.

Posted by: The Mongrel at September 29, 2003 at 10:41 AM

I suspect that my world view is somewhat more closely aligned to Margo's than you lot, and I wish her every success in kicking the habit. (Just do it, Margo - you are now a non-smoker. Hold to that perception).

But - I think she is on thin ice quoting Wesley Clark. The man out-backflips even our own master of the art, John Howard. There is something essentially deceitful about this man, and I can think of only one reason to support him - he's not George W. Bush.

Which is a perfectly excellent reason in its own right, and if this is the way things are, then so be it. I'd prefer it didn't have to be this particular individual, but in a storm, any port will do.

Posted by: Nemesis at September 29, 2003 at 11:30 AM

George Bush too much of a real man for you Nem? Making decisions on anything but politics is always too naughty for your type isn't it? Thus we have the abysmal lies and failed predicitons of the left being shown up at every turn. Remeber the "long Afghani winter", "the long Iraqi summer", the "humanitarian disaster waiting to happen", the million refugees. Bush has been right every time and the left whiny-boys have been wrong.

Posted by: Toryhere at September 29, 2003 at 12:10 PM

Maybe Margo should go read The Command Post sometime.

To rub salt into the wounds, the article detailing Wesley Clark's source was written by an Australian. By a rank amateur, not a professional journalist.

On the 25th.

Posted by: Alan E Brain at September 29, 2003 at 12:10 PM

Nemesis -

I'd guess my politics are way closer to Tim's than yours, but I don't think that Clark is any backflippier, or prone to speaking in platitudes, than any other politician. As far as the phone call incident, I'd say it's nothing.

Also, I wouldn't be throwing around the picture of Clark shaking hands with Mladic too much, because a) who recognizes who this Mladic jackoff is, anyway and b) pictures of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Hussien start being passed around. I'm not getting into whether or not they are the same thing, or one's better - it's just a political loser.

As for other officers snipping at him - that sounds like par for the course as far as the Army. However, the dislike for Clark in the Army is looking to run deeper and deeper, and although gossip is a bad thing to listen to in general - well, that's just tough shit for any politician who built a well-earned rep before entering politics.

Besides, Margo isn't even quoting Wesley Clark. She fucked it up, out loud. If she really wants Clark as the Prez, maybe she should start the rumor that he kicks puppies for fun, 'cause that's about as big of a vote getter as what she ascribes to him.

Anyways, we'll take care of who is and who isn't president, never you mind.

Posted by: Dylan at September 29, 2003 at 12:46 PM

if you believe moore than clark is a backflipper

but moore is probably misheard clark, or is making stuff up

here is a letter clark wrote to clarify his original comment

Posted by: The Central Committee at September 29, 2003 at 01:16 PM

'Refute' used be such a useful word. I take it that 'refute' and 'deny' are synonyms now.

Posted by: Alex Hidell at September 29, 2003 at 01:52 PM

Obviously, Margo was a heavy smoker all those years coz she couldn't get a root . Maybe life's got better for her. It doesn't show in her column, though.

Posted by: Freddyboy at September 29, 2003 at 02:08 PM

Hmmm. Deep.

I'm not sure what some of you lot are taking, but it surely can't be good for you.

Posted by: Nemesis at September 29, 2003 at 02:30 PM

I have no doubt about what Nemesis is taking and where he's taking it.

Posted by: S Whiplash at September 29, 2003 at 02:48 PM

Hey, Nemo, sometimes its so obvious it doesn't have to deep.

And look where "deep" thinking got you...maybe you should be on Prozac.

Posted by: fredddyboy at September 29, 2003 at 03:29 PM

Just a conjecture, but I suspect that The Nemesis might be a big fan of Bill Clinton, so it is a quandry why he's not in love with Wes Clark. They both fell from the same tree.

Posted by: wallace at September 29, 2003 at 03:46 PM

I forgot to address different paragraphs to different commenters.


Posted by: Dylan at September 29, 2003 at 05:13 PM

Right, Whiplash, and he's loving every minute of it.

Posted by: Robbo at September 29, 2003 at 05:41 PM

Andrew notes:
"...except George Will is also completely full of shit, and Clark never "revealed" any such thing, ever."

Unfortunately, using the Howler as a source also gets their peculier spin on events. If you actually read their quotes Clark, when asked about the suggestion that Saddam was connected to 9/11 says " came from the White House... "

You can lawyer the words and say the subsequent phone call quote was not related to that but any normal listener would have that impression. And Clark subsequently, in his letter to NYT says he knows the White House was intent on connecting Saddam but seems to back off on saying anything "came from the White House". It's not a big deal but you have to conclude Clark was rambling fast and loose on this one and his supporters are trying to spin this one into a right wing plot.

Posted by: KenG at September 29, 2003 at 05:54 PM

I tried to quit smoking but it didn't work out so I started putting cheap wine and crushed ice in the bong. Works great, man. Peace out.

Posted by: Imam Psycho Muhammed at September 29, 2003 at 07:32 PM

"...the father of the US Senate..." What the hell?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 29, 2003 at 10:05 PM

Father of the Senate? No, more like this kind of father...

Posted by: Tongue Boy at September 30, 2003 at 12:16 AM

Note to puzzled Yanks: I believe that Margo has bestowed a traditional British Commons title called "The Father of the House" on Robert Byrd. This title is customarily reserved for the oldest member of the Commons. Since Margo clearly doesn't know anything about US politics, she doesn't realize that we have no such title, and that Robert Byrd to us is just another ancient geezer who's been in the Senate for 50 years because he represents an insignificant state where it's easy to get reelected without expending much effort.

Posted by: Irene A. at September 30, 2003 at 02:55 AM

As a former resident of West Virginia, I must correct you Irene. Robert Byrd keeps getting re-elected for several reasons, none of which have anything to do with WV's size or significance:

a) it's a heavily Democrat state. A dog proclaiming himself a Democrat would start out with a 20 point lead.
b) he's got all the power of the incumbency. Given current US election law, that's a huge advantage. Over 90% of office holders who run for re-election to Congress win.
c) he's brought back to West Virginia all kinds of pork barrel money. There are more buildings and places in WV named after him than any dead president. Byrd's "money" is everywhere. (The fact that it has done squat to improve the economic and educational level of the state goes unnoticed.)

Posted by: RKD at September 30, 2003 at 07:27 AM