But then George W. Bush squandered that momentum. He squandered that love. He squandered that support.
We had gone into Afghanistan, which was good, because Afghanistan had supported al-Qaeda, who were probably behind 9/11. But then, just when we had Osama bin Laden cornered at Tora Bora, Bush said "never mind," switched gears, and shifted all our attention and resources to Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.
Bush invaded Iraq illegally, in defiance of the UN Security Council's determination that the UN weapons inspectors should be given more time to do their job.
Forget the UN weapons inspectors! They couldn't be relied on to find those darned weapons of mass destruction!
And forget the wussy United Nations! We don't eat French Fries, we eat Freedom Fries, dammit!
So we invaded Iraq. This swaggering lawless cowboy arrogance brought us down a notch in the eyes of the world. And justifiably so.
Then Bush decided that we needed to torture people. He had Alberto Gonzales and his other goons rewrite the dictionary and semantically tapdance around the Geneva Conventions so that we could perform on our detainees the same kinds of torture that we cited as justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. And we even used the same prison that Saddam used for his own torture -- Abu Ghraib.
Brought us down another notch or two in the eyes of the world. And justifiably so.
But that still wasn't enough.
We blamed it all on "a few bad apples", threw Lynndie England in jail, and proceeded to continue the torture at Abu Ghraib and also at Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and reportedly in secret prisons all around the globe. And since we're so into torture that we don't even have enough staff to do it all ourselves, we started sending our detainees to Syria, Egypt, and other countries who would do the torturing for us.
Down another notch. And justifiably so.
We denied it all despite clear evidence.
Another notch southward. And so on.
And now our detainees -- held indefinitely without charge and with no means to challenge their detention in a court of law -- are committing suicide. They are hanging themselves in their stuffy little prison cells, in an act of hopeless desperation.