In yesterday”s speech advocating peaceful negotiations between long-time rivals India and Pakistan, President Bush stressed that the U.S. is “working hard to convince both the Indians and the Pakis there”s a way to deal with their problems without going to war.” The White House said Bush had no idea “Paki” was considered an ethnic slur.

This is probably true it”s unlikely that Bush would want to upset Pakistan given its importance to his cause at the moment. However, Bush”s offhanded (if unwitting) insult, the White House”s subsequent dismissal of it and the fact that the whole ordeal was largely ignored by American media will only worsen the United States” already lousy international sensitivity record.

Bush should consider this a learning experience. He got off scot-free this time because the U.S. is at war and there is no one less politically correct than the news outlet that criticizes its own president during wartime. Next time he wants to speak with authority about a group of people, he should at least learn what not to call them.

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