11/05/2005 10:02 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Reading The Pictures: Karen Hughes A Glass Act


When I last looked in, the Karen Hughes "Sensitivity Tour" had just gotten back from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey. On that excursion, Karen had her head handed to her by at least two audiences of Islamic women taking issue with America's hegemony, and Hughes' own cultural ignorance.

Well, if lightening doesn''t strike twice. On her most recent foray, Karen took the grilling from a hand-picked audience of women in Indonesia. True to form, Karen took every sling and arrow as if the way to win hearts and minds was to simply show grace in the face of a dressing down. (Apparently, the Administration doesn't think the third world recognizes patronization when it sees it.)

Out of the whole most recent trip, Hughes' visit to the Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur seemed the most embarrassing and self-conscious. Big splotches of photographic light emphasized the staging, and each shameless pose in front of still another glass case made the whole exercise utterly laughable. The image that seemed to best sum up the visit, however, was the one of Hughes looking at this model of Jerusalem's renowned Al-Aqsa mosque. As a metaphor for the way the world's major superpower can look blindly arrogant to countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, there was our very imposing emissary acting out the fact that "we have no idea what we're looking at."

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(image: Stringer/Reuters. Kuala Lumpur. October 23, 2005. Via YahooNews)