. . . Wednesday May 5, 2004

You Gotta Believe

President Bush took to the airwaves on two Arab stations (one funded by the U.S.) to offer a reaction to the prison abuse scandal that has rocked U.S. efforts in the region. (See the video.)

From Bush: “First, the people in Iraq must understand that I view those practices as abhorrent. They must also understand that what took place in that prison does not represent America that I know. The America I know is a compassionate country that believes in freedom. The America I know cares about every individual. The America I know has sent troops into Iraq to promote freedom – good, honorable citizens that are helping the Iraqis every day.”

Yesterday, Colin Powell insisted that the prison abuses were isolated incidents and did not reflect the general treatment being received by Iraqi prisoners.

But here’s the rub. What is critical at moments like these is that the public (the one here and the one there) believe what these guys are saying.

Do you believe it?

And I don’t ask that question because I doubt the honor of the average American soldier. I ask it because we’ve been told so many things that turned out to be falsehoods related to the war in Iraq. How many of us thought that Colin Powell would be the voice of one of the most embarrassing and costly American lies in years (here some view it as an honest mistake, everywhere else, it’s considered a lie)? And if we’re not sure we believe the Bush administration’s reaction (and I’m talking about those in the political middle here), what do you think the odds are that the argument is holding much water in the desert?

Concentration is important!