While We Were Campaigning

Although he’s still in the White House, George W. Bush has already faded from out national attention. It’s more fun to think about what shiny new President we might get in January than to have to deal with the clunker in the garage.

Turns out the rest of the world feels the same way. Glenn Kessler writes in today’s Washington Post that heads of state in the Middle East are pretty much tuning out the Bushies.

When Palestinians broke through the barrier dividing the Gaza Strip and Egypt in January and streamed across the border by the tens of thousands, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak faced a moment of crisis. His phone soon rang, but the world leader offering help on the other end was not President Bush — it was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mubarak took the call, resulting in the first such contact between leaders of the two nations since relations were severed nearly three decades ago.

The conversation signaled a growing rapprochement between Egypt, which receives nearly $2 billion in annual aid from Washington, and Iran, a country that the Bush administration has tried to isolate as a possible threat to U.S. interests in the region.

Way to go, Bushies.

As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads back to the Middle East this week, three months after Bush hosted a peace conference bringing together Israelis and Arabs in Annapolis, prospects for peace have shifted dramatically. There has been little clear movement in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, while the Iranian-backed militant group Hamas has shown increasingly that it can set the region’s agenda.

Hamas rockets have continued to rain down on Israeli towns, prompting deadly counterattacks by Israel amid increasing speculation that Israel will invade the narrow coastal strip housing 1.5 million Palestinians that it abandoned just two years ago.

Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator, said that key players in the region are moving beyond the Bush administration.

Get this:

“The feeling is that if you keep the flash points on a lower or somewhat higher flame, it will give you more cards when a new administration comes in,” he said, speaking in a phone interview from Israel. “Everyone is sucking up to the Iranians,” he added.

This would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

Pablo Bachelet writes for McClatchy Newspapers:

President Bush has increased aid to Latin America by record amounts and visited Latin America more than any of his predecessors, but his legacy may be the biggest loss of U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere in recent memory.

He remains unpopular and unable to pass initiatives that Latin Americans want, such as immigration reform and free-trade pacts. Trade between South America and China is booming. Governments from Canada to Iran are cutting deals in the region, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has made challenging U.S. interests his foreign-policy mission, through everything from sweet oil deals to a TV news channel that rivals CNN.

”Requiem for the Monroe Doctrine” is how academic Daniel Erikson put it in an article for Current History, referring to the 1823 declaration by President James Monroe that put the Western Hemisphere off-limits to outside powers.

Meanwhile, as Dan Froomkin reports, the POTUS from Hell remains clueless but happy. “Does Bush not recognize what a mess he has created for his party?” Froomkin asks. I’m betting he doesn’t.

6 thoughts on “While We Were Campaigning

  1. Talk about who has what influence… on the news this morning, Iran’s Ahmadinejad is welcomed with red-carpet treatment in Iraq and has talks with President Jalal Talabani.

  2. Regardless of all the unpopularity and small approval ratings, Bush still has the power to do tremendous damage in the remaining 10 plus months of his administration. No matter what he does, no mattewr how illegal and/or unprecedented, no one will attempt to hold him accountable.

    If he is out of office his successor will talk about “Healing the Country” and not about punishing the miscreants.

  3. I think that Mubarak talking to Ahmadinejad is on the whole a good thing, but it is noticeable how fast W’s mojo is vanishing. I just hope that he doesn’t decide he needs to do something to prove that he is still relevant.

  4. Bonnie,

    What did I say wrong ? ? Are you saying we should not punish any of evil doers in the current administration?? Or that we can’t heal if we punish??

  5. Anybody ever noticed that when a politician/president is in trouble or sees his image in the tank or needs some look-good fodder for his library (or the history books) or needs to divert attention from a disaster he’s created, he travels. Not to mention what foreign travel does for his anemic ego – thousands of ss agents surrounding him, traffic stopped, airports shut down, trains stuck in stations, streets cleared, millions of dollars expended – all just for him. That, along with slinging mud like crazy at whoever or whatever is causing him angst in hopes that some of it might stick is the other less than endearing mark of the true politician.

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