May 11, 2004
Sometimes George Bush's words are so far off from reality that you need to hear them a couple of times before the full weight of their offensiveness sinks in.
So it was with his endorsement of Donald Rumsfeld.
"You are doing a superb job," Bush told him at the Pentagon, adding, "Our nation owes you a debt of gratitude."
A debt of gratitude?
For interfering with diplomacy left and right, as in "Old Europe"?
For passing off bad intelligence on Iraq's phantom weapons of mass destruction?
For sending too few troops into Iraq in the first place?
For letting Iraqi looters ransack the national museum?
For saying, "Stuff happens"?
For throwing out the State Department's detailed guidebook on how to avoid problems during the occupation?
For backing the convicted embezzler Ahmad Chalabi?
And now for allowing widespread torture and abuse of prisoners in Iraq?
For ignoring the warnings from the International Red Cross?
And for having his top intelligence aide send a general to Iraq to instruct guards to "set the conditions" for "successful interrogation and exploitation"?
For all this, we should be grateful?
For all this, Rumsfeld deserves a superb grade from the President?
Millions and million of people the world over are watching to see whether the United States will show proper remorse for this grotesque scandal and whether someone in a position of authority will be held accountable.
Lavishing praise on Rumsfeld is precisely the wrong signal to give.
More than accountability, Bush prizes loyalty.
And more than accountability, Rumsfeld prizes power.
And power without accountability leads to the very kind of abuses we are witnessing today.