Idiots Abroad

Oblivious to the fact that no one gives a bleep what he does any more, President Bush is whining that people misunderstand him. Dan Froomkin writes,

President Bush’s self-image continues to amaze. Wrapping up an eight-day Middle East trip, the man who has launched two wars and may be hankering for a third told ABC News yesterday that he is terribly misunderstood in the region.

“I mean, my image [is]: ‘Bush wants to fight Muslims.’ And, yeah, I’m concerned about it. Not because of me, personally. I’m concerned because I want most people to understand the great generosity and compassion of Americans,” Bush told Terry Moran.

“But yeah, look, I’m sure people view me as a warmonger and I view myself as peacemaker.”

Bush said he had something to prove on his trip. But, he said, “it’s not so much to prove for my sake. It’s really to prove for peace.”

How does he intend to turn his image around? “You just have to fight through stereotypes by actions,” he said, adding that he intends to let “the results speak for themselves. . . .

… Apparently forgetting his “I’m a war president” motto of the 2004 campaign, Bush said: “I don’t believe democracies, you know, generally lead to war-like governments. You know, ‘Please vote for me, I promise you war.’ It’s not something that tends to win elections.”

You can’t make this up. If Bush were a fictional character — well, let’s just say that most cartoons are more realistic.

Bush is so thoroughly disliked abroad that even our “friends” are badmouthing him. Scott MacLeod writes for Time,

Bush was also harshly criticized — albeit in more circumspect language — in countries with close ties to Washington, including some from the very countries that rolled out the red carpet for the visiting President. Commenting on the two main purposes of the tour, even the most liberal Arab press questioned the sincerity of Bush’s efforts to establish a Palestinian state and criticized his campaign to pressure Iran over its nuclear program. On occasion, senior Arab officials contradicted or disputed Bush’s pronouncements even before he left their countries. Perhaps the unkindest cut of all was an editorial in the Saudi Gazette, comparing back-to-back visits by Western leaders to Riyadh this week. “It would be difficult to argue that French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to the Kingdom was not in almost every way a success,” the paper said, adding, with an unmistakable swipe at Bush: “It’s refreshing to see a Western leader come to the Kingdom speaking of peace rather than just issuing warnings on the state of affairs in the region.”

Bush’s efforts to rally an Arab coalition to isolate Iran in the Gulf seemed to fall flat. Only days after he visited Kuwait, liberated in 1991 by a coalition led by the President’s father, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Mohammed Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah was standing beside Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran, declaring: “My country knows who is our friend and who is our enemy, and Iran is our friend.”

Seldom has an American President’s visit left the region so underwhelmed, confirming Bush’s huge unpopularity on the street and his sagging credibility among Arab leaders he counts as allies. Part of the problem was the Administration’s increasingly mixed message, amplified by the intense media coverage of his trip. For example, in Dubai he gave what the White House billed as a landmark speech calling for “democratic freedom in the Middle East.” But during his last stop in Sharm el-Sheikh Wednesday, he lauded President Hosni Mubarak as an experienced, valued strategic partner for regional peace and security and made no mention of Cairo’s ongoing crackdown on opponents and critics — and the continuing imprisonment of Mubarak’s main opponent in the 2005 presidential election. “He is saying he supports the presidents and the governments in the Arab countries,” says Ghada Jamsheer, a women’s rights activist in Bahrain. “This is why people are angry. Why is he not putting pressure on these governments to push for human rights?” The fact that Bush rarely ventured beyond the walls of heavily guarded royal palaces, embassies and hotels, though completely understandable given concerns for his security, nonetheless further prevented him from making much connection with the people whose liberty he says he sincerely seeks.

Bush received his warmest welcome in Saudi Arabia, where King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud accorded him an honor reserved for special friends by inviting him to his horse farm outside Riyadh. But the Saudis didn’t hesitate when it came to publicly disagreeing with Bush’s views on various Middle East matters. Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, standing beside Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice, pointedly declined to endorse her call for more Arab gestures toward Israel or her relatively rosy assessment of political reconciliation in Iraq. After Bush jawboned the Saudis about increasing oil production to bring down oil prices, the Saudi oil minister shot back, “We will raise production when the market justifies it.”

The irony is that the Bush Administration is all about being “strong” and imposing its will by force. But Bush is ending his reign of error as the limpest sock to reside in the White House since James Buchanan.

16 thoughts on “Idiots Abroad

  1. Every time I hear or read anything Bush says, he just sounds more and more like the alcoholic he is. (If people say he’s not currently drinking, OK, but alcoholism is a personality type whether you’re actively drinking or not.) “I am what I say I am, I never said that thing I said yesterday, and the whole problem here is that you fail to understand that I am right about everything. OK, maybe it’s partially my fault for not doing a good enough job explaining that I am right about everything. I’ll try to do a better job of that in the future. See? I can be humble.”

  2. …the long, failed experiment that is the Bush administration will hopefully demonstrate to the American people that is not only ill-advised but dangerous to entrust the presidency to someone who is inexperienced and incurious with regard to foreign policy…

  3. Every time Bush uses a word like “peace” or “democracy” I’m reminded of that line in the movie The Princess Bride:
    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. ”

    He sees himself as a peacemaker. Wow. I mean, you can see why, what with all that peace in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the conciliatory stance on Iran, and the way he rushed in to curtail the Israeli move into Lebanon in 2006. Talk about letting “the results speak for themselves.”

    Sometimes I wish there was someone who really loved that man, someone who cared enough to intervene and stop him from embarrassing himself (and us) this way. It’s painful to watch. Why do they let him out in public anymore?

    Do you suppose he even realized how hard he’d been slapped by the “when the markets justify it” line from the Saudis?

  4. The only reason they let him (Bush) out in public is because the real person running the show (Cheney and Haliburton) was elected vice president and Bush has to do Cheney’s talking for him.

  5. Apparently NPR feels like they have to at least pretend to give a bleep. I was getting tired of them reporting on this stupid trip like there was actually anything going on there. I mean, I can understand why Bush wants to pretend Hamas doesn’t exist whenever he babbles on about this fantasy that there’s going to be a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians before the end of his term, but why does NPR have to go along with this? Whenever Bush says something to the effect that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders are both on board with this latest initiative, it’s simply reporting, not editorializing, to point out that Mahmoud Abbas does not, in fact, equal, the Palestinian leadership.

  6. I want most people to understand the great generosity and compassion of Americans,”

    People understand Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and torture. Bush has disgraced America, and any compassion of Americans has been overshadowed by Bush’s example of who Americans are. His actions speak louder than his words.

    I hear Bush was awarded the Saudi’s Order of Merit badge. That ought to help his legacy building. One British journalist commented that Bush looked like the Lord Chancellor when he was wearing his Order of Merit.

  7. “…no one gives a bleep what he does…”

    Careful! Let’s not tell him he’s completely irrelevant or the moron might do something dramatic to draw attention to himself, like start another war or something. Children do like to throw their attention-getting tantrums.

  8. …on the subject of human rights, your administration has had the worst record of all, surpassing most Third World countries. The tension and the misery in parts of this region can very well testify to this.

    –editorial in the government-approved United Arab Emirates newspaper Gulf News

    You can read the whole editorial at Main and Central.

  9. First, Bush does not care about his legacy. His concern for public opinion is limited to manipulating ‘The People’ so there is enough popular support (or too little opposition) so he has his way. This has not been going well lately. The CIA would not doctor the report on Iran & their nuclear status. The Republican kingmakers have decided a new war will kill any chance they have to keep the WH in November . And they took it (the Iran war) away from him. How? They let him know that he would be impeached, and Republicans senators would lead the charge.

    Bush still wants the war, so he decided to try to buy, pressure or persuade the Arab states in the region to conduct his new war. And they are not interested. That’s what the trip was about. I give the little bugger credit for one thing: he’s persistent.

  10. Tom Engelhardt has a good commentary at common dreams:

    “During the years that I freelanced for that company in the early 1970s, an image of what I was doing formed in my mind — and it suddenly came back to me this week. I used to describe it this way:

    The little group of us — rewriter, grade-level reducer, designer — would be summoned to the publisher’s office. There, our brave band of technicians would be ushered into a room in which there would be nothing but a gurney with a corpse on it in a state of advanced decomposition. The publisher’s representative would then issue a simple request: Make it look like it can get up and walk away.”

  11. I was so struck by what Mistake1 wrote that I think it should be said again:

    The only reason they let him (Bush) out in public is because the real person running the show (Cheney and Haliburton) was elected vice president and Bush has to do Cheney’s talking for him.

    I got a chance to watch the Frontline documentary on Dick Cheney again last Tuesday, and was struck most of all by how he really wanted to be President, but decided that it was a position with too much contact with the public. He prefers having some stooge as “President,” while he can take advantage of the dark, cigar smoke filled, alleys to really take care of business for himself and his oil buddies. The fact people in the media do not understand this and say it on a daily basis makes me pull my hair out.

  12. The Boy King looked like an impotant man in a house of ill-repute: All swagger and bluster – all talk, all show, and no go.
    What was especially damning was when the Saudi oil minister shot back, “We will raise production when the market justifies it.” Those were his own, and his follower’s, words thrown right back in his face.
    But we can’t mock the impotant Boy King. He has other “missiles” he can, and will, use.

  13. Bush is not real; he’s but a version of Hamlet, and, somehow, Shakespeare’s behind this.

  14. Damn that Bard!

    Some time after the invasion of Iraq, Liev Schrieber played Henry V as George W. Bush, the former drunken wastrel Prince Hal now ascended to his father’s throne, intoxicated with war and power.

    Freaky how that plot still fits.

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