Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Outrage vs. Passion

"One writer asked of Bush supporters: Where is your outrage? Meaning where is their outrage about the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and, more broadly, about the idea of invading Iraq in the first place. The writer added that the half of the American population still supporting Bush appear to be beyond reason, and that frightens him.

"It's no surprise that the Abu Ghraib situation has outraged Bush's critics. But, with the exception of Rush Limbaugh's egregious claim that the treatment of the Abu Ghraib prisoners was merely on the level of a college prank, I've heard Bush supporters -- in print, on the radio and in personal conversations -- express enormous regret about the mistreatment of the prisoners and a wide-awake understanding of how greatly the photos have damaged the U.S. cause in the Arab-Muslim world.

"As someone who was lukewarm about the invasion but who is fervent in the belief that we need to be resolute in helping construct a new, positive political order in Iraq now that we're there, the Abu Ghraib matter has left me bewildered and reeling. Initially, I had hoped that the issue would provide a point of bipartisan consensus: The mistreatment was so clear and the fallout so awful that surely all Americans, regardless of party or ideology, could sound a common note about it. That hope was a sign, of course, not of perspicacity but of my rather desperate longing for bipartisanship on foreign policy.

"Arguing over the particulars of policy is more important than debating people's motives, but on the topic of "where is outrage?" I've long been asking a related question: Where is the passion -- the passion among many Bush critics, regardless of their opposition to the invasion, to making the erection of a new stable order in Iraq a reality? That ought to be a matter of bipartisan consensus. But, judging from their rhetoric, many critics have made a political concern -- their fixation with scoring political points against Bush in an election year -- their main priority. I've heard little interest or passion from them when the discussion turns to the crucial need of building a new Iraq."

AMEN, brother.