Not content with calling a reporter a major league asshole his first time on the campaign trail, George W. Bush in his acceptance speech mischaracterized and then mocked a dead foreign correspondent. The classiness of these people is truly unsurpassed.
The column itself, cited by Bush as an example of those pesky liberal media naysayers, is full of praise for America’s handling of the postwar occupation of Germany, pointing out what the US is doing right and what France and others are doing wrong. I know the president doesn’t read the papers, but whoever wrote that speech should have read past the column’s first paragraph:
Another dividend of American policy is that conditions are better in our zone. The difference is apparent in the most superficial view of the British and French areas and the Soviet sector of Berlin, the present limits of the foreign correspondents’ observations in the Russian zone. The atmosphere in the American zone isn’t so heavy and hopeless. While the Germans are not free anywhere, they say they feel freer under the Americans. There is more political discussion, more talk of the future. It isn’t mere accident, but because self-expression is further advanced in the American area than in the bizonal economic conferences and in the few meetings that have brought representatives of two or more zones, that hte Germans from the American zone usually take the lead.
Everything the correspondent singles out for praise in this story, we’ve done wrong in Iraq. We’ve stifled self-expression by shuttering newspapers. We’ve isolated other nearby countries and by our actions discouraged them from helping out. We’ve done little to promote local businesses and everything to promote our own takeover of every aspect of the infrastructure that matters. Not only have we not respected the local culture we’ve gone out of our way to disrespect it.
The column is instructive about today’s situation, that’s for sure. But not the way Bush and his speechwriters thought it was.