A panel of Washington TV talkers was snickering about the dig that Sen. Robert Dole took at President Clinton.
If you missed it, Dole criticized Clinton for conveying the condolences of the American people to North Korea on the death of dictator Kim Il Sung.
Dole suggested that veterans of the Korean War and their families wouldn't be mourning the death of the man who started a war in which so many Americans died.
This amused the Washington talkers. Pundit Robert Novak said Dole was having a slow day without any TV appearances, so he pounced on Clinton's condolences to get media attention. The others chuckled at Novak's wit and insight.
They might be right. Dole is a partisan politician, and he doesn't skip many opportunities to zap his adversaries.
But does that mean Dole was wrong?
I happened to be driving in my car when I heard the radio news item about Kim Il Sung's death.
My first thought was: "Too bad he didn't croak 50 years ago, the rat."
Remember, we are talking about a world-class villain. While he didn't operate on the big scale of a Stalin or Hitler, he shared their cold-blooded instincts.
Because of his lust for power, more than 1 million Korean civilians died, men, women, children. More than 53,000 Americans and 200,000 Korean troops were killed. The entire country was devastated. He believed in torturing prisoners of war, letting some starve to death.
And since that war ended 41 years ago, he's been looking for other ways to stir up trouble. He captured an American ship and tormented the crew. He ordered a civilian airliner shot down. And most recently he has given much of the world a nervous twitch by trying to build nuclear weapons.
So if there was any reaction in this country and other civilized lands, it should have been to order a round and toast his departure.
Then the radio news item went on to the fact that Clinton had conveyed condolences to the North Korean people "on behalf of the American people."
And my surprised reaction was: "Hey, I am an American person. If I want my condolences conveyed, I will convey them myself. And the only emotion I want to convey is my disgust that this vile buzzard lived to the overripe age of 82, causing nothing but misery and suffering."
Of course, any foreign policy whiz will say that Clinton was merely practicing smart diplomacy, that he did the correct thing because we are trying to establish warmer relations with North Korea in order to discourage it from building nuclear weapons.
That may be true. And if Clinton wanted to be diplomatic and express his personal condolences, it's OK. He could have even said that he was conveying Hillary's, too, and the condolences of the White House staff and all of his friends back in Arkansas.
He could have sent a floral display, for all I care. Maybe with a ribbon that said: "Kim Il Sung -- gone but not forgotten." Or he could send an audio tape of him playing "Amazing Grace" on his saxophone.
But it seems presumptuous of him to casually toss about the condolences of every person in this country.
That's what I don't like about diplomacy. So much of it isn't sincere. I doubt if there is even one person in this country who can truthfully say he feels sad about the death of Kim Il Sung. Well, maybe one or two. Even John Gacy had his weird admirers.
Most Americans didn't know who Kim Il Sung was because we aren't keen on foreign affairs, except those of the British royal family. And those who did know who he was were relieved that he's no longer with us.
But the president of the United States should not be expressing our condolences for the death of a monster who caused the death and misery of millions of people. Someone who would have done it again, on a much grander scale.
If Clinton wanted to say something, he might have dropped a brief note to Sung's son, Kim Jon Il, who will probably be North Korea's next dictator, saying: "Just heard about your dad. I hope you won't be as big a loony tune as he was."