Is This The End of America?
This week Karen Hughes, long-time political adviser to George Bush, began her new mission as the State Department's official defender of America's image with a tour of the Middle East.
She might have been more help to her beleaguered president had she stayed at home and used her PR skills on her neighbours. At the end of a cruel and turbulent summer, nobody is more dismayed and demoralised about America than Americans.
They have watched with growing disbelief and horror as a convergence of events - dominated by the unending war in Iraq and two hurricanes - have exposed ugly and disturbing things in the undergrowth that shame and embarrass Americans and undermine their belief in the nation and its values.
With TV providing a ceaseless backdrop of the country's failings - a crippled and tone-deaf president, a negligent government, corruption, military atrocities, soaring debt, racial conflict, poverty, bloated bodies in floodwater, people dying on camera for want of food, water and medicine - it seemed things were falling apart in the land where happiness is promoted in the constitution.
Disillusioning news was everywhere. In the flight from Hurricane Rita, evacuees fought knife fights over cans of petrol. In storm-hit Louisiana there were long queues at gun stores as people armed themselves against looters.
AMERICA, which has the world's costliest health care, had, it turned out, higher infant mortality rates than the broke and despised Cuba. Read more
db: Ouch, the Cuba thing must have hurt. Blame it on 'Old Europe' envy [if you are American and support your prez]. The Mirror is running a phone-in - dial 0901 383 4421 if you think the USA is finished and dial 0901 383 4422 if you think not. Remember - it's just for fun!