The self-flagellation continues as President Bush apologizes yet again.

President Bush (news - web sites) acknowledged "times are tough" for the United States and the Middle East and repeatedly apologized for U.S. soldiers' conduct in Iraq (news - web sites) in an interview published by an Egyptian newspaper Friday.
... neatly handing the Islamofacists a new arrow for their quiver of terror.

And if you don't think the press is driving this "story", consider the third paragraph:

The editors of Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper who conducted the interview didn't ask about the future of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Critics have called upon Rumsfeld to resign for his handling of the prisoner-abuse scandal.
No word on what other questions weren't asked, but at least we know AP's position on the matter. This is a PR debacle. Some short colonel should have been answering questions and issuing apologies, if necessary; instead, we've got the President of the United States bending over and taking it.
Bush didn't apologize in two television interviews Wednesday, but he made up for it in the Al-Ahram interview, saying the word "sorry" six times.

"I can't tell you how sorry I am to them and their families for the humiliation," he said. "I'm also sorry because people are then able to say, `Look how terrible America is.'"

Bush conceded that the issue has cost the United States standing in the Middle East.

"I think that things in the Middle East for the United States are difficult right now," Bush said. "I think they're difficult because people don't really understand our intentions. ... I'd say right now times are tough for the United States and the Middle East."

Utterly insane. The media lost interest in January after the initial report, and they would have lost interest again if the only response they got was from a PR flack, but now that they've got the President himself on the scaffold we're never going to hear the end of it.

At least the President still has some backbone.

Bush declined to offer any guarantees on two issues of special concern to Arabs — that an eventual Palestinian state would encompass almost all the West Bank, and that Palestinian refugees who fled in 1948 from land that now lies in Israel be allowed to return.
Of course, it doesn't take much guts to refuse to promise the impossible -- unless you're a diplomat, maybe. Both those issues of "special concern" are 100% guaranteed to be rejected by Israel, and everyone in the game knows it, so why does the media keep acting as if they're on the table? Because the media wants to see the eventual destruction of the Zionist entity?

Meanwhile, the Vatican points out the obvious:

The abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers is a scandal offensive to God himself, the Vatican (news - web sites) said, in its first public comment.

"Violence against people offends God himself, who made humans in his own image," the Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, said in a pre-recorded television interview due to be broadcast later on Friday.

Lots of stuff that people do every day offends God, so this is hardly news. You steal? You lie? You offend "God himself". So what's the Vatican's agenda?
Lajolo said he hoped Iraq (news - web sites) would regain its independence and sovereignty as soon as possible, that the country would be led by "a competent Iraqi leader, recognized as such by the people", and that the United Nations (news - web sites) would be given "a defining role" in the oil-rich country.

He said he was optimistic that the return to Iraq on Thursday of UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi meant the UN could soon assume that role.

Right, it's definitely time to put Kofi Annan et al back in charge of Iraq's oil.
"The pope had reasons for denouncing the idea of a preventive war and it is clear that this war has not done away with terrorism," he said.
Uh, yeah... terrorism still exists. We're working on it!

Fortunately, the American people in general aren't as quick to worship at the altar of lip-biting apologies as the Administration, the media, and most of the blogosphere. An ABC poll shows that most Americans don't think the abuse is a big deal.

Most Americans express dismay about the abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. soldiers, and the nation divides on whether the Bush administration sought at first to investigate the scandal — or to cover it up.
Right, the Administration tried to cover it up by issuing a report about it four months ago. Or maybe the media is just trying to give that impression.
Three-quarters of the public are closely following the story, a level of attention reserved for some of the most gripping news events.
Translation: whatever the media decides is "gripping" and then reports on 24/7.
Two-thirds favor criminal charges against the soldiers involved; fewer — but still a majority — 54 percent, say punishment should go up the chain of command to higher-level officers who allowed a breakdown of training and discipline.
That's all?! Those numbers would be high for a presidential popularity poll, but they're remarkably low for a question about punishing obvious criminals.
Still, given current knowledge, most say the buck should stop before it gets to Rumsfeld. Twenty percent in this ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll say he should resign, while many more, 69 percent, say he should retain his position. Even most Democrats — hardly the administration's fondest fans — say Rumsfeld should stay.
The the pollsters didn't ask about the future of the media. Critics have accused the mainstream press of creating this scandal themselves for the purpose of hurting the Republicans in the upcoming election.

James Joyner says it best. (HT: Donald Sensing.)

Allah is on the right track, too.



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