whupping it up for self-esteem

In a column whose overall message is the continued decline in Dubya's popularity figures. Maureen Dowd hits a few bullseyes, but none better than her take on what passes for foreign policy in Washington these days.

It's equally hard to fathom the president's bipolar approach to nuclear threats. Yesterday he hurled new ultimatums at Saddam Hussein. "I'm sick and tired of games and deception," he said, even as he responded to Kim Jong Il's games and deception with pleas and promises to send food and oil to Pyongyang. There are inspectors in Iraq who are not finding nuclear weapons, while inspectors have been kicked out of North Korea, which has admitted to a nuclear weapons program.

So what's the message here? If Saddam had already developed nukes, we'd send him a fruit basket? But since he hasn't, we'll send him Tomahawk missiles. We know Saddam's weak, but we're pretending he's strong so America can walk tall by whupping him.