LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani man who was convicted of murdering 100 children was sentenced today. The judge ordered Javed Iqbal to be strangled, in a public park, in front of the children's parents. Following his execution, Iqbal will be cut into 100 pieces, which will then be put in acid. Additionally, the man was sentenced to 700 years in jail for destroying evidence.
"America is falling behind," Gov. George W. Bush told his audience this morning at a fund-raising breakfast in Houston, Texas, "falling behind on the death penalty."
This fiery declaration by the Republican presidential nominee drew loud cheering from the partisan crowd. Partly because he paused to encourage it, partly because they believed a solid sound bite should be rewarded. But this time, Mr. Bush was prepared to give teeth to his sound bite.
"America may be killing more people than ever before, but we're not killing them better than ever before," he said. "Why, when I look at the shrewd, lawful, appropriate sentence handed down the other week over in Pakistakistan (sic), I'm sickened.
Sickened because here in the country that produces the bloodiest, killing-est, finest serial killers anywhere in the world, we're still doing the same-old-same-old, dull-as-dishwater, 'politically correct' gas chambers and lethal injections. Meanwhile Third World countries forge ahead, finding new, more imaginative means of execution."
He ended his speech by saying, "My fellow Americans, I promise you, if I'm elected President, I'll make it a priority to move our justice system toward putting more 'extreme' in 'extreme prejudice.' "
Later, at a fund-raising brunch in New Orleans, Mr. Bush further outlined his position. "I want this country to resume its world leadership in death sentences. Not just in numbers but in creativity. In vengeance. In puttin' the big bad hurt on these big bad wolv ... er, guys." Warming to his subject, the governor continued, "I firmly believe it's time we raised the bar. A steel bar. With maybe a rusty spike in it. And then bring it crashing down over and over again on the head of a convicted felon."
But Mr. Bush didn't stop at defining his own goals. He also criticized the Clinton administration, including his rival for the White House, Vice President Al Gore. He went on the attack at a lunch in Tulsa, Okla., that raised more than $400,000 for his campaign.
"The current administration claims to support capital punishment, which may be fine in Washington, but to this Texas boy is a few sinners short of a revival. Are America's killers on death row or death rote? Why haven't we seen legislation calling for death by variable speed drill? Why aren't we sewing up hornets' nests in murderers' stomachs? Goldfinger had the idea to cut people in half with laser beams back in the 1960s, what's the hold up in Washington?"
The Gore campaign, obviously caught off guard, scrambled to maintain a "tough on death" stance. Speaking at a fundraising afternoon snack in Richmond, Virg., Vice President Gore declared, "I invented chopping people into 100 pieces and putting the pieces in acid," though he offered no proof of this claim or any explanation of how Pakistan came to implement the punishment first.
Told of Mr. Gore's remarks, Mr. Bush said, "Let me challenge my Democratic opponent: I'm willing to sign legislation calling for anyone who kills someone in a car to be tied to the front bumper of a car and then crashed into a stone wall at 60 mph, Mr. Gore. Are you?" His comments were made as he was leaving a $5,000-a-plate dinner in Arkadelphia, Ark.
By the end of the day, both candidates had staked out their territories. In prepared remarks given at a cocktail party fund-raiser, the Vice President said, "As far as the Constitution's prohibition on 'cruel and unusual punishment' goes, it's only 'cruel' if the person being sentenced to a vengeful death is someone decent, and I don't believe this country locks up decent people; it's only 'unusual' if it doesn't happen often enough." As for Mr. Bush, he ended the day by speaking at a $50-a-Frito midnight snack event, saying, "The time for 'Dead man walking' is over. What this country needs is 'Dead man being pushed into jet engine turbine blades.' "
In an unrelated story, Fox Television announced its newest program, Who Wants to Eviscerate a Millionaire, would air on Tuesday, April 4.