By Mark Steyn
12:01AM BST 10 May 2003
Frankly I was relieved to hear from Tam Dalyell that Tony Blair is secretly controlled by a cabal of Jewish advisers. Cabal-wise, that takes the heat off George W Bush, who's secretly controlled by so many cabals he's juggling his schedule as frantically as Jack Lemmon in a 1960s sex comedy. The President is apparently simultaneously secretly controlled by a cabal of sinister Jews, a cabal of fundamentalist Christians, a cabal of Texas oil barons, and a cabal of devious "neoconservatives", who are also Jews but, demonstrating the cunning one traditionally associates with the Hebrew, have taken to going around under a new name to confuse those not as eagle-eyed as Tam.
But if I had to name my all-time favourite cabal to which Bush is in thrall it would have to be the one revealed in a long think-piece in the Boston Globe the other week. The Globe identified the various murky figures who've been the most assiduous promoters of the new American imperium: David Frum, the Bush speechwriter who coined two thirds of the phrase "axis of evil" (his original idea was "axis of hate"); Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post; Michael Ignatieff of Harvard; and Mark Steyn, some loser with a Brit newspaper.
And what do all these unsavoury characters have in common? Circumcision? Gefilte fish? No; as the Globe noted, "Frum, Steyn, Krauthammer, and Ignatieff all hail from Canada".
A cabal of sinister Canadians? Oh, sure, go ahead, scoff. But, if Tony Blair is under the control of a cabal of sinister Jews, what you really need to ask yourself is what cabal is the cabal of sinister Jews under the control of? That's where poor Tam's conspiracy theories are so old hat (it's a homburg). At least in the club of sinister Canadians we operate a restricted membership: only Canadians need apply. By contrast, Tam's cabal of sinister Jews is headed by who? A troika - Lord Levy, Mr Mandelson, Mr Straw? - that includes only one bona fide Jew and has to make up the numbers with guys who've got a Jewish grandparent and a couple of Mel Brooks videos: depending on how you look at it, Tam's conspiracy has either revived the expansive Third Reich definition of Jewishness or it's the Irish World Cup team of cabals.
But the real question the Father of the House ought to ponder is, if Tony Blair is so unimportant that the cabal secretly controlling him can be left to a bunch of ersatz Jews, what are all the real Jews up to? Who are they secretly controlling? Are they the ones who've been driving poor old Margaret Drabble loopy, perhaps through radio waves emitted from secret antennae implanted in their hooked noses? Just a thought.
And back at the White House it's cabal gridlock. You turn up and say, "Hi, it's the cabal of sinister Canadians. We've got an appointment at 10 with the President." And the secretary says, "Sorry, his 9.30 cabal is running late." And you begin to wonder why, if George W Bush has such a small brain, so many cabals are required to secretly control it. And you sit in the anteroom twiddling your thumbs and the clock ticks on and the cabal of Big Oil arrives, all wearing their ten-gallon hats. In Texas, they used to have a saying: He's all hat and no cattle. Now they say he's all hat and no cabal, a dismissive reference to the only three Hasidic Jews in the Lone Star State who aren't controlling a G7 head of government.
Meanwhile, my colleague Boris Johnson has uncovered an even more artful cabal. The other day in these pages, he suggested that the President, if only in terms of the fine art and antiquities section of his brain, was being secretly controlled by a lobby group called the American Council for Cultural Policy, who'd leant on Bush to facilitate the looting of the Baghdad Museum in order to deliver the Iraqi people's birthright to "the guest washrooms of Floridian real estate kings".
I don't know what Boris has against Florida estate agents - possibly he was on the wrong end of some timeshare deal - but his Dalyell-like conjuring of a cabal of sinister Sunshine State realtors all singing Rosemary Clooney's classic "Cabal-a My House" is so delightful it seems a shame to point out that the great sack of Baghdad is as mythical as the great Jenin massacre of exactly a year ago. The number of missing Baghdad antiquities has now been revised down from 170,000 to somewhere between 25 and 38 - in other words, between 169,962 and 169,975 less than was originally claimed. Are the media being secretly controlled by a cabal of Jews who enjoy making 'em look like idiots every spring?
"The Jew is everywhere," observes Scudder in John Buchan's Thirty-nine Steps. "If you're on the biggest kind of job and are bound to get to the real boss, 10 to one you are brought up against a little white-faced Jew in a bath-chair with an eye like a rattlesnake."
But, of course, Buchan was Governor-General of Canada. If you get my drift.