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Complex Geopolitics Made Plain

The notion first came into my head during the Gulf War, when our TV sets were dominated by images of U.S. troops in faraway lands, the barren Middle East desert and, of course, Wolf Blitzer. There was something about Iraq's deputy prime minister Taraq Aziz that seemed eerily familiar, almost unsettling. I obsessed about it for days on end. I gave up eating. I gave up sleeping. I cut back substantially on my drinking. Because there was something fishy about that Aziz fellow. Something that just wasn't right.

Well, the Gulf War ended and I put my obsession with Aziz right out of my mind. Just the insane flotsam of a childish mind, I told myself. A schoolboy's daydream best left hidden away in the attic of my subconscious.

Well, Iraq is back, hootin' and hollerin' and carryin' on and playing its stereo full-blast into the night and annoying its neighbors. And that means Aziz -- the calm, settling ying to Saddam Hussein's madcap yang, Crosby to his Hope, Martin to his Lewis, Hiller to his Diller -- is back as well.

And that same uneasy feeling came back today as I watched Aziz march into the U.N. to gripe to all the world's civilized nations about how everyone was always picking on his good buddy Saddam and everyone was always trying to lay a bummer on Iraq and what about all those things Saddam has done for orphans?

That familiar white hair. That recognizably trim and officious mustache. That smart gray suit.

"Hokey smokes!" I screamed. "It's Larry Tate from the old Bewitched series."

Indeed. In an instant of clarity, the perplexing riddle that had haunted me for years -- just what about Iraqi deputy prime minister Taraq Aziz creeps me out so -- had been answered. Apparently, Saddam Hussein's right-hand man was none other than actor David White, who delighted audiences in the 1960s with his portrayal of Darren Stephens' long-suffering boss at the ad agency.

But as soon as that question had been answered, other, more troubling questions began to swirl around my head in its place. Questions like, what turned Larry Tate against our government? Was it one too many dinners at the Stephens household ruined by Samantha's witchcraft? Was it Gladys Kravitz's continuous snooping? And how many other Bewitched cast members had Larry Tate convinced to turn traitor? Elizabeth Montgomery? Paul Lynde? Both Dick Sargent and Dick York?

But with great questions come simple answers, and a solution to this whole Iraq imbroglio suddenly appeared before me with startling clarity.

If that really is Larry Tate over there in Baghdad, helping Saddam Hussein rattle his theoretical sabre, then President Clinton's course of action is clear -- just send Endora and Dr. Bombay over there to open a can of whoop-ass.

Then we can go back to worrying about other dictators who bear a passing resemblance to 1960s TV character actors. Lord knows, that's how I spend my time...


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