Funeral procession for Kim Jong-il, led by a Lincoln ContinentalEnlarge Photo
If you're an American of a certain age, it was hard not to watch news coverage of Kim Jong-il's funeral procession, lined with thousands of keening North Koreans, and not think of that Simpsons episode about the charlatan called "The Leader". And if you looked a little closer, there was more irony to be found: as the New York Times pointed out, the "Dear Leader" was carried to his final resting place in the back seat of a Lincoln Continental.
That, in a nutshell, sums up Mr. Kim's life: he despised the U.S. so much that at times, the U.S. was all he could talk about. It was a curious obsession, like Tipper Gore's fight to censor music in the 1980s, or Rick Santorum's non-stop attacks on the LGBT community. The fact that Kim's Lincoln was nearly 40 years old was perfectly appropriate, since Kim's political and cultural policies kept his country mired decades behind the rest of the world.
And yet, despite his brutal, repressive, bloody dictatorship that's left millions of innocent North Koreans starving and impoverished, there are a few things we'll miss about Kim Jong-il:
2. With Kim and Saddam Hussein gone, we're down to just one measly Axis of Evil*. The thought of a Unicycle of Evil would be kind of hilarious, except Mahmoud Ahmadinejad isn't particularly funny (unless he's talking about gays in Iran).
3. We probably won't get another glimpse of Kim's sleek, impeccably maintained Lincoln Continentals until Kim Jong-un bites the big one, which could take years. If anyone has a great idea for smuggling them out of the country, drop us a line.
Here's hoping for a brighter future -- one that sees North Korea re-connect with the rest of the world, and one in which the name "Kim" becomes synonymous with peace and stability, not just repression and sham marriages.
* We're aware that the country of North Korea, not its former leader, Kim Jong-il, was the "axis" to which President Bush was referring. Just let us have this one, okay?