Saturday, January 29, 2005

One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

My friend Phil at Here Be Monsters commented on this story about Dick Cheney's weekday-casual attire earlier in the week. I could have been the one to call it to his attention, and it did occur to me at the time that maybe I was making too big a particular deal out of this fashion faux pas, as if Emily Post was a more sacred authority than the Geneva Conventions. (Upon reflection, last week when I bitched about Dubya not dancing long enough at his inaugural balls, I may have been making a tango out of a jitterbug.)

But the Affair of Cheney's Timberlands is more than merely cosmetic, it's a symbolic foul-up. It just sends a message that Americans don't care very much about universal human rights. So does appointing the Poster Boy for Torture as the top law enforcement official in the country. As so often with the Bush Administration, the question is: evil or stupid? In the case of Cheney at Auschwitz, I say Stupid. Israel is our most important ally, Bush and Cheney should know it better than anyone, and I'd conjecture that the Israelis take Holocaust memorials pretty seriously.

Alberto Gonzales for AG is a tougher call. The Bushies do tend to be stupidly tone deaf, to overrate the world community's willingness to give us the benefit of the doubt and/or fall for laughable White House spin--for instance, to blame the Abu Ghraib disgrace entirely on SPC Charles Graner. On the other hand, I think it's a real possibility that Bush would be in deep legal jeopardy if the shit ever hit the fan. Maybe having an obsequious bag man and fixer in the Attorney General's office is the the highest consideration. So maybe Evil.

Can you feel me struggling not to sound like the shrill Blame America First stereotype? And failing? For an even, well-reasoned discussion of how alienated we are from the world community, let me give you Michael Lind writing about America, the Dispensible Nation.

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