Him again?!
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – I saw Saddam Hussein on TV the other morning, and, boy, he looked good.

Don't get me wrong. I bow to nobody in my disdain for this Stalin Lite. I'm even old enough to remember how he roared back into international prominence after Bush Numero Uno wimped out and sowed the seeds for his son's nonsensical obsession and the current glorious conflict. But at this point the guy's nickname could be changed from the Butcher of Baghdad to the Qumback Qid.

We're looking at one mogul who just won't stay down. There may be a lesson here for all of us who work for one, own stock in one, or just want to understand what makes these people tick. I'll give you the conclusion up front: They feast on failure. Yes, they like to succeed as much as the next fellow, but it's losing that stokes their demented furnaces.

Just look at the guy as he appeared before the Iraqi court, immediately questioning its legitimacy--the way all egoists reject any attempt to hold them accountable for their actions. I hate to say it, but I know a lot of men his age who would love to be that tanned, rested, and downright slender.

It's hard to hit your fighting weight in this softened-up world, but I guess Saddam has found the key: incarceration. That's basically what it takes. A few years ago I was at La Costa Spa in California. They served me a breakfast I will never forget. Inside the folds of an enormous cloth napkin, someone had cleverly secreted a quarter slice of wheat bread. On a gigantic plate resided a sad little portion of scrambled egg. There was also tea.

"What is this?" I inquired of the server.

"Breakfast," she said, adding, "We doubled the order for you because you look as if you might need it." She was right. I hitched a ride into town and ate a BLT.

Saddam didn't have those options because he's been on a spa regimen from which there is no escape. I can think of a number of moguls who could benefit from similar treatment. Some of them belong behind bars, anyhow.

It's not just that the Qid has lost weight. In the old days he was kind of pasty, with a face that wasn't helped by the Iraqi must-have moustache. Today he sports a nicely trimmed beard, which will certainly become the style in the tristate area of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Slightly professorial, a little rebel-with-a-cause, the beard is as effective as Steve Jobs' black T-shirt in saying "Executive who has emerged from his ordeal in the wilderness."

And there were no more boring fatigues for the recycled Saddam on the network breakfast circuit. Dressed in a natty suit, with an open-collared dress shirt that would have been appropriate on an Internet entrepreneur, our tinpot dictator looked as if he would have been just as comfortable at the bar of the Four Seasons in L.A. as he was on the witness stand telling the judge to get stuffed.

"He looked like a friggin' mogul," said my friend Potter, who is an agent out on the Coast, where all the loose marbles roll eventually. I got the feeling that he had been in a meeting to discuss whether Saddam was represented by anybody yet.

It reminded me of a rubber-chicken dinner I went to in L.A. a couple of months ago. In the middle of a clutch of impressive executive types was a tiny fellow of exceeding dignity and baldness, and that man was Michael Milken. For those of you who are too young to remember, this gentleman was the despised representative of all those who destabilized and ruined businesses throughout the decade of greed that was the 1980s. Now here he was, looking almost as good as Saddam.

Of course, the genuine mogul qumback isn't all about appearances. The defeated potentate derives enormous power from the fact that he has taken a killer blow, one that would level a normal man, and he is still standing tall and punching back.

That was supremely evident the other morning. Reclining in his chair, poking the air, the reconstituted murderer of Kurds, non-Baathists, and Olympic athletes looked in command, fueled by that reservoir of anger that career narcissists call upon at will. He said he was still the President, an assertion that, while arguable in the extreme, is not without weight to those who question the legitimacy of our nation's presence in Iraq. He attacked the court's right to judge him, which no doubt spoke to many who wonder about the provenance of the Iraqis who have been set up by the Great Satan to represent the forces of freedom and never-ending war. He even drew upon what must be a very small store of humor, poking fun at his nemesis, our Chief Executive.

And what of our fearless leader? How does he look? That's beside the point. He'll be around holding on to his office while Saddam is just an afterthought of history, right?