Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Forget the cheapshots. If Bush is diplomatically and culturally savvy enough and masculine enough to hold an arab monarch's hand, that's actually a very good thing, and worthy of the sort of praise I'm seldom prompted to give him.

But look at the rest of our President's body language. He's incredibly comfortable with this Saudi prince. Yes, I know they've met before and their familes have business together, but to get at what bothers me here, you'll have to imagine another president in this picture. Say Clinton or even Reagan. Can you? Can you imagine even the most conservative or most liberal US president holding the hand like this of the man responsible for the culture that led to 3000 Americans being murdered?

Moreover, imagine if the election had gone the other way and "President Kerry" were holding the hand of the monarch of the country where 15 of the 9/11 terrorists were born, even though the problems that led to that fact (Wahhabist money spreading hate throughout the world, ludicrous double standards with regards to hate speech in SA, all but the most superficial efforts toward democraticing the kingdom) are barely being addressed, if at all.

Yet, Bush's body language suggests he's a comfortable as if he were walking with his grandfather. Now the reports coming out suggest the relationship is still strained due to the attacks:
President Bush discussed the surge in oil prices with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Monday, but focused on a plan by the Saudis to increase their oil-pumping capacity over the next decade rather than on any short-term efforts to bring prices down.

The two leaders talked for three hours here at Mr. Bush's ranch, trying to restore some normality to a relationship that has been tense since the emergence of the role of terrorists from Saudi Arabia in the Sept. 11 attacks. They discussed a variety of issues, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, terrorism, trade and Mr. Bush's call for more democracy in the Middle East, and the men made every effort to portray the relationship as back on track.

But symbolically, I still find this terribly unsettling. It looks to me as if the most powerful man in the world is not the Texan who represents the nation attacked 3 1/2 years ago, but the prince who controls the oil that nation needs. It looks to me as if our president is sucking up to this tyrant when he's gone way out of his way to declare all the world's tyrants our mortal enemies. Saudi Arabia may very well be a nation we have no choice but to deal with, but giving their tyrant such a royal treatment here is an insult to all that's American.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, ever hear of the phrase hold your friends close and your enemies closer?



4/26/2005 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

yeah Mac,

I've heard of that...but like I'm always sayin': aesthetics count.


4/26/2005 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Macallan said...

Oh don't be so heteroact'nhomophobic!

4/26/2005 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

it's not that they're two men (and it's rather revealing you thought that's what I meant ;-)...)

it's that this prince SHOULD be someone we hold our nose when dealing with because of what he stands for.

I mean, can you imagine Bush walking hand in hand, or whatever the parallel Venezuelan custom may be, with Chavez?

4/27/2005 08:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Macallan said...

Come on, how many times will I ever get to tease you about being creeped out by two guys holding hands?

4/27/2005 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Come on, how many times will I ever get to tease you about being creeped out by two guys holding hands?

fair enough ;-)

by the way, Mac, when you gonna start your own blog?

4/27/2005 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Macallan said...


I run hot and cold on writing about things, and could never post enough to make a blog worth any audience's attention. Guest posting at Tacitus was just about ideal for me because I could post when something moved me to write as opposed to feeling I had to. When he stopped posting I sort of felt an obligation to the readers to pick up some slack, but quickly soured on "having to" do it. I actually haven't written anything of length or substance for months.

BTW and tangentially related, the comment section of ObiWi is now so habitually hostile to any dissent that I wonder how many people there can consider themselves liberals. Unfortunately, I think I could count on one hand the number of left leaning commentators there that I'd even bother to engage in a discussion. Yet even those discussions get interrupted by people soooo aching to get their shots in. I know it is very difficult to see it from one's own "team", but I've noticed it on occasion at Tacitus from the right and attempt to thwart it and keep the field level. Just my opinion of course, but my recommendation is that the leftward grown ups of ObiWi need to more proactively police their own lest it become just another echo chamber in the blogsphere. It might be too late as rarely does anybody comment from the right, and people commenting from the middle are often attacked. Few have the patience or stamina to continue against the onslaught. The only times I've bothered to engage for any length is when I was arguing some overtly simple and clear point, i.e. the pope wasn't a Nazi or we have to accommodate things we don't agree with that fall within the 1st Amendment otherwise we risk the freedoms we reserve from it. I can't imagine spending any energy on more nuanced issues. Just thought you might like to know. Or not.

4/27/2005 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

don't disagree Mac...

ObWi goes in stages though. That's why I'm happy Charles writes there(when he does).

Perhaps in the current environment a "moderate" blog is next to impossible. I hate to think so, but being the nanny does wear you down.

There's a core of people (on both sides) who see it as a weakness and it's tough to get them to see otherwise.

4/27/2005 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the holding hands thing is for the Middle Eastern media.

It is a sign of respect. The Saudi prince, will not hold just anybody's hand. And the fact that it's Bush's hand, tells the folks back home...His majesty's demands respect, even from King George.

It really shows why Hussein had to go after Saudi citizens killed 3000 Americans.


4/27/2005 02:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mac.

I don't think you realize what your persistence at Obsidian Wings says about your respect for the political discourse. You really are a great representative of your values and principles. People like me need to read what you have to say. When you and many of the conservatives persist, even after having been piled on, that is to be admired. Bird, Sebastian and the other dudes, produce some incredible threads, that are must reads...the development of thought and the exchange of ideas are a beautiful thing.

One little regret I have is not coming to Timmmy the Wonder Dogs' defense. I realize that trolling is not a good thing for most. I obviously like it, especially when it is done right. Timmy's sharp and cutting remarks really pissed me off. Not because they were rude or obnoxious, but he pushed the right buttons to force me to reexamine my positions. It would drive me nuts, but the dude was sharp.

Please, don't stop posting, I may disagree with your views (a whole fucking lot!!!) but you still teach me.


4/27/2005 03:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really get into the threads that get all lawyered-up.


4/27/2005 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I really get into the threads that get all lawyered-up.

My eyes glaze over...K and Seb and Von and the others are amazing, but I'm so out of my league once they start in with the legalese...

4/27/2005 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pope is a NAZI thread was wonderful. That thread kicked-up some major dust. i was swept away. I enjoy lurking, but sometimes those threads can take you away. (can you tell I'm a stay-at-home dad).

I think learning wisdom doesn't always have to be stoic and somber.


4/27/2005 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I wouldn't have described it as the "Pope is a Nazi" thread (as I posted it and I reject that premise), but you're right...every now and then something kicks up the dust on ObWi and makes it a rollicking good food fight...lurk a little less NeoDude, I agree with your sense about wisdom.

4/27/2005 04:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Macallan said...

Thanks NeoDude

4/27/2005 04:22:00 PM  

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