Tuesday, March 23, 2004

A Character Trait

Shortly after 9/11 it became clear that the administration had dropped the ball on anti-terrorism in the first months of its term. If you’ll recall, what seemed to be in the offing in the spring of that year was a confrontation with China; and that, rather than Ben Laden or the Israeli-Palestine problem, took up most of their energy and attention. This emphasis was an obvious error, but I wasn’t initially inclined to blame the Bush people too harshly. In foreign policy, administrations usually begin badly; and mistakes aren’t automatically criminal, even when they have terrible consequences. What already bothered me then, however, and strikes me as the most damning fact now is the utter refusal of anybody in the Bush administration to take any responsibility for what happened or to acknowledge any shortcomings whatsoever. In this respect, you have to admit they are consistent. This administration never, ever admits error about anything. I expect they have circulated a memo about it. It seems to be part of their premeditated general contempt for everyone else in the country and, indeed, the planet.

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