Last Friday, it appeared the Bush campaign had turned the corner. The jobs news defused a potentially nasty issue and the 9/11 Committee's grandstanding would end with Condi Rice's testimony. John Kerry had revealed himself to be at best a lacklustre campaigner with no message, no credible solutions and less charisma than a tax accountant. Thsi week saw more good news on jobs, Condi Rice put on a beautiful performance that left little doubt in any reasonable person's mind that she is intelligent, engaged and conscientious and that Richard Clarke, for whatever reason, had a personal agenda. Kerry was a nonfactor again. What should have been a very good week for the Bushies turned very sour however with fierce fighting in Iraq. The Bush campaign had faithfully executed the blueprint helpfully provided to them by Dick Morris, Bill Clinton's man behind the curtain. One, define Kerry as a flip-flopper. Two, label him a Mass. liberal. And three, wind down Iraq and start to bring the troops home. Oops, little problem there with item three. Somehow, the occupation authority allowed a nasty little zealot, the cleric al-Sadr, to mount and arm a private army right under their noses. Maybe they were under orders that Islam is a "religion of peace", as the President has memorably advised us so many times. Al-Sadr should have been in jail months ago for a variety of offense, not least killing a rival moderate cleric and being a general pain inthe ass. Now the Iraqis have jsut what a defeated people need, a hero to rally around and regain some of that Arab pride that seems so important. Not content to let al-Sadr foul the stew, the occupation authorities had tried for months to push the so-called Sunni Triangle problem under the rug. That became a non-starter after four Americans were ambushed and their bodies horribly desecrated by mobs of peaceful Muslims. As the American people alternately wrung their hands and screamed for vengeance, the Bush brain trust again had that deer in the headlights look, distracted by the 9/11 Commission sideshow and deeply shaken that its post-war strategy had turned into a dismal failure. Surrogates were sent out to spin the developments in Iraq but anyone with half a brain knows that heavily armed uprisings by tens of thousands in half a dozen cities 10 weeks before we are supposed to hand over the country to local authorities is not a good thing. These uprisings could be put down quite easily, but at the cost of probably hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties, many of them civilians whose only crime was to be in the wrong place. Another option would be a humiliating Somalia-like pullout. Or we could perhaps try to forge a pact with the moderate Shiites, in effect gieving them the country in exchange for some breathing room to make a face-saving exit. Or, as seems most likely, the administration will continue the current madness of fighting these insurgents hand to hand in vicious urban warfare, leading to hundreds of dead soldiers, but sparing the administration an embarrassing moment. Their only solace is that John Kerry has no ideas either and by his statements, is not likely to come up with any. Perhaps while the President is lolling around the Crawford ranch he might get his hands on a childhood favorite, Uncle Remus. As I recall the Story of Brer Rabbit, there was an incident with the "Tar Baby" that closely resembles the current Iraq situation.