So Ari Fleischer has said out loud what lots of us were thinking, or even saying on our blogs: it sure would be nice if someone bumped off Saddam Hussein.

Here’s the story from CNN:

[Fleischer] was asked about the possible cost of any war with Iraq. The Bush spokesman said the president has not made any decisions about military action so therefore it is “impossible to speculate” about costs.

However, he went on to say, “I can only say the cost of a one-way ticket is substantially less than that. The cost of one bullet, the Iraqi people taking it (on) themselves, is substantially less than that, the cost of war is more than that.”

But there’s actually a difference between a blog, or a bar, or a locker room, and a podium where someone speaks for the President of the United States. And of course Fleischer wouldn’t even think about publicly calling for the assassination of a head of state in an administration that didn’t so pride itself on cheap, swaggering bully-talk.

There has been little commentary on the fact that Richard Lugar, the most thoughtful Republican in the Senate on national security issues and no one’s dove, has actually come out in opposition to the war-powers blank check that Bush asked for.

I don’t think the two items are completely unrelated. It appears to me that important people in Washington, by no means all Democrats, simply don’t trust Bush and his crew to tell the truth, or to do the right thing. That makes it less suprising that some folks in other capitals are also unconvinced. Swagger comes at a price.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com