Yes, the headline of this post is directed at everyone’s favorite Republican. But before I am a citizen, I am a copy editor. As our own Kaiser Wilhelm shuffles off to let us deal with the fruits of his truculence, ignorance, laziness, ineptitude and rampant need for ego compensation, the world press has been echoing a phrase from the well-respected center-right news publication The Economist. The problem is that, as far as I can tell, the phrase makes no sense. Here the phrase is:

Bush has presided over the most catastrophic collapse in America’s reputation since World War II.

Ok, we know about the current, ongoing collapse in American reputation. But what collapse in American reputation is associated with World War II? Does The Economist mean the time that the country was caught in a men’s room outside Boulogne with that French kid and some chocolate bars? Or, to be more charitable, maybe The Economist has in mind some collapse in American repute that happened before WWII. But that makes no sense either. We had our problems — the Civil War, race — but nothing that made the rest of the world think so badly of us. We were the big young country that was up and coming and kept on being up and coming.

As far as I can tell, the only serious pre-Bush blow to America’s standing was the one-two punch of Vietnam and Watergate. The morbid can debate whether that mess was worse than our current mess. But we can all agree it came after World War II.

 So, Economist, what the fuck are you talking about?