George Will

Regarding cynicism, Jimmy Carter, an even worse ex-president than he was a president, responded to the Hamas victory by quickly suggesting a way to evade the U.S. law against providing funds to terrorists. He suggested that the executive branch of the U.S. government could launder money destined for Hamas, passing it through the U.N. This suggestion has a certain piquancy, coming as it does from someone who was elected president as a national penance for President Nixon's lawlessness, and coming as it does after the oil-for-food program in Iraq, which demonstrated the U.N.'s financial aptitude.

Four days after Hamas provided redundant evidence that the United States can not anticipate, let alone control, events, The New York Times inadvertently suggested this thought: If the Times and the Bush administration each had sufficient self-awareness, they might be mutually mortified by recognizing their similar mentalities regarding America's power.

On the front page of Sunday's Times there began a 7,800-word story on Haiti's descent, not for the first time, into murderous anarchy. The story about the progress of nation-building and democracy-planting in our hemisphere carried a symptomatic headline: ``Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos.'' The story's thesis was intimated by its subtitle: ``Democracy Undone.'' The thesis was that if U.S. diplomacy had been more deft and single-minded, the Times might not now be reporting this about Haiti:

``Today, the capital, Port-au-Prince, is virtually paralyzed by kidnappings, spreading panic among rich and poor alike. Corrupt police officers in uniform have assassinated people on the streets in the light of day. The chaos is so extreme and the interim government so dysfunctional that voting to elect a new one has already been delayed four times.''

Tonight, on the 1,050th day of the Iraq War (the 912th day of the Second World War was D-Day), the nation needs an adult hour, including a measured meditation on overreaching, from the Middle East to Medicare's new prescription drug entitlement. But in State of the Union addresses, rarely is heard a discouraging word.

The Democrats have already been heard from. In their ``pre-buttal'' to the State of the Union, they promised, among much else, that, according to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, if they come to power, ``every American will have affordable access to broadband within five years.'' Which tells you something about the state of the union.

George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
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