Karen Hughes talks fast. She talks a lot, zipping from point to point. She’s a hybrid, one motor or another always running. She gives the impression of a woman racing against the tide. The tide in question is anti-Americanism, perhaps the fastest-growing force in the world today. Hughes’s job is to stem it, sap it, stop it. That’s a big job. In fact, no bigger one exists for the United States. Hughes, whose official title is under secretary of state for public diplomacy, and whose task Orwell would have characterized as chief propagandist, says she doesn’t do spin, only facts. ‘Now, of course I try to portray the facts in the best light for our country,’ she adds, ‘Because I believe we’re a wonderful country and that we are doing good things across the world.’ That’s called spin. And the world isn’t buying it. The image of the United States is in something close to a free fall. There are lots of reasons, beginning with the fact that any elephant this big bestriding the world’s stage is going to irk people, especially when George W. Bush is riding it. But I suspect a basic cause […]

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