The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Dancing Alone: “Why, in the face of the Abu Ghraib travesty, wouldn’t the administration make some uniquely American gesture? Because these folks have no clue how to export hope. They would never think of saying, ‘Let’s close this prison immediately and reopen it in a month as the Abu Ghraib Technical College for Computer Training ? with all the equipment donated by Dell, H.P. and Microsoft.’ Why didn’t the administration ever use 9/11 as a spur to launch a Manhattan project for energy independence and conservation, so we could break out of our addiction to crude oil, slowly disengage from this region and speak truth to fundamentalist regimes, such as Saudi Arabia? (Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.) Because that might have required a gas tax or a confrontation with the administration’s oil moneymen. Why did the administration always ? rightly ? bash Yasir Arafat, but never lift a finger or utter a word to stop Ariel Sharon’s massive building of illegal settlements in the West Bank? Because while that might have earned America credibility in the Middle East, it might have cost the Bush campaign Jewish votes in Florida.

And, of course, why did the president praise Mr. Rumsfeld rather than fire him? Because Karl Rove says to hold the conservative base, you must always appear to be strong, decisive and loyal. It is more important that the president appear to be true to his team than that America appear to be true to its principles. (Here’s the new Rummy Defense: ‘I am accountable. But the little guys were responsible. I was just giving orders.’)”

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