At this point, as more comes to light, only the morally obtuse would dismiss the disgrace at Abu Ghraib.
But all Abu Ghraib All the Time?

Abu Ghraib 24/7?

A cartoon that depicts Uncle Sam looking into a mirror and seeing Saddam Hussein?

Sy Hersh with a new spring in his step?

“Virtually every major newspaper in the world is anti-Bush, and most are anti-American,” writes Dennis Prager. “The desire to humiliate America (or George Bush) has deep roots. The America of those who support President Bush portrays itself as a moral beacon, and it has contempt for the moral authority of the United Nations and ‘world opinion.’ Therefore, those who loathe this American self-appointed moral role cannot pass up the chance to portray America as morally no better or even worse than other countries.”

“The pictures we are seeing,’ writes Cal Thomas, “and the ones to come, are being used in an election year (would they be treated as seriously if it were not an election year?) to weaken us and to destroy our resolve. We are being held to a higher standard than most of the world — certainly the Middle Eastern world – holds itself. It is good and right to have such a high standard, but not good if that standard is one-sided and undermines what we are trying to achieve in Iraq.”

James Lambent, writing as a guest columnist in Agape, a Christian news service, laments the press’s double standard in refusing to show the mutilated bodies of the American contractors dragged through the streets of Fallujah, while at the same time showing awful pix from Abu Ghraib.

“The irony of much of this twisted reporting is that the media did not even want to show one of its own who had been brutally murdered by Islamic extremists,” writes Lambent. “Remember Daniel Pearl? As a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Pearl was seeking an exclusive interview in Pakistan. He happened to be captured by some terrorist group. Pearl was brutally murdered and beheaded. Pictures of his head were released by the murderous thugs to the Arab media.

“But here in the U.S., our media friends were again reluctant to show these pictures. Many media groups would not! Why? If anything, these pictures would clearly show what these terrorists are all about. Perhaps this would be too much for the American public to handle? But these same media groups were quite eager for us to see the images of the abused Iraqi prisoners.

“What is sad about all this is that if anything, this recent effort by the media will endanger lives in the Middle East. President Bush attempted to relay the message that these actions ’by the very few’ does not reflect our servicemen and servicewomen in Iraq and is “not the America that I know.”

As the columnist Michael Barone notes, how you feel about Abu Ghraib reflects how you feel about the United States. This, needless to say, will play into the coming presidential race:

‘One of the basic divides in public opinion,’ writes Barone, ‘is over American exceptionalism, the idea shared by Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy and George W. Bush, that ours is a special, and especially good, nation. The divide is illustrated by two questions recently put by pollster Scott Rasmussen. In response, 64 percent agreed that America is generally fair and decent, while 22 percent said it was unfair and discriminatory. And 62 percent agreed that the world would be a better place if other countries behaved more like the United States, while 14 percent said it would be a worse place.
‘There is an interesting difference between Republicans and Democrats. Bush voters agree, by an 83-to-7 percent margin, that America is generally fair and decent. Kerry voters also agree, but only by 46 to 37 percent. Fully 81 percent of Bush voters believe that the world would be a better place if other countries were more like the United States. Only 48 percent of Kerry voters agree. Almost all Republican voters believe in American exceptionalism. Only about half of Democratic voters do. We have seen this same pattern on the war in Iraq — Republicans united in support of George W. Bush, and Democrats divided.
‘I think we are seeing, or will see, this same pattern of response to Abu Ghraib. Most Americans, and including a large majority of Republicans and about half of Democrats, will see this as aberrant misconduct, a betrayal of the high standards we hold ourselves to and usually uphold. Other Democrats, unbelievers in American exceptionalism, will seize on Abu Ghraib as evidence that this country is not special and especially good. And so, of course, will our critics and enemies around the world.
 ‘This has two implications, one for the campaign and one for governance. For the campaign, it is a structural disadvantage for John Kerry. In a year when both candidates are trying to rally their supporters to get out and vote, Bush can appeal to voters of one mind and Kerry must appeal to voters of two minds. This helps to explain why he voted for the Iraq war and against the $87 billion supplemental appropriation. Or, as he put it March 16, ‘I did actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.’ He has to appeal to those who want us to win and those who think we deserve to lose.
‘For governance, George W. Bush has the task of leading a country that believes in American exceptionalism in a world in which that idea is, for many, off-putting if not repugnant. This is why Bush has taken pains to explain that the “nonnegotiable demands of human dignity” are not just American but universal, the gift of God — or, if you will, imperatives imposed by secular ideas of liberty and equality. America’s specialness has been its good fortune in asserting and trying to uphold those ideals earlier than others and having the strength, and therefore the obligation, to advance them around the world.’