Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bush in the Middle East: I am confident that the status quo is unacceptable

Bush did some more of that thing he does that’s a little like speaking, in Ramallah and Jerusalem.

Sigh. How is it possible for him to speak so badly? Try this test: say these words out loud: “I know each leaders shares that important goal”. Did your brain revolt and try to stop you? If you carried out this experiment at work, are your co-workers looking at you with worried expressions and offering to call an ambulance?

In the first event, with Palestinian President Abbas, just before lunch, he said, “I explained yesterday, and I just want to explain again today, there are three tracks to this process, as far as we’re concerned.” In the second, in late afternoon, he said, “I underscored to both Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas that progress needs to be made on four parallel tracks.” Make up your mind or learn to count.

IN OTHER WORDS: “President Abbas was elected on a platform of peace. In other words, he just wasn’t somebody who starts talking about it lately, he campaigned on it.”

THAT “SOME” GUY IS HEARD FROM AGAIN: “Now, look, there are some in the world who don’t believe in the universality of freedom. I understand that. They say, like, freedom is okay for some of us, but maybe not all of us. I understand it, but I reject it.”

YOU GOTTA BELIEVE!: “And I believe it’s possible -- not only possible, I believe it’s going to happen, that there will be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office. That’s what I believe.” Why does he believe that? “And the reason I believe that is because I hear the urgency in the voice of both the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the Palestinian Authority.” Or maybe they just have to pee.

IF HE NEEDS TO BE A PAIN: “I was asked yesterday at a press conference, you know, what do you intend to do; if you’re not going to write the agreement, what do you intend to do? I said, nudge the process forward -- like, pressure; be a pain if I need to be a pain -- which in some people’s mind isn’t all that hard.”

IN OTHER, LIKE, WORDS: “And they said, well, like -- yesterday, somebody said, well, are you disappointed? I arrived and it nudged the process forward. In other words, we can help influence the process, and will.”

OVER-CONFIDENT: This is what can happen when you get into a rhetorical rhythm: “I am confident that with proper help, the state of Palestine will emerge. And I’m confident that when it emerges it will be a major step towards peace. I am confident that the status quo is unacceptable”.

CLEAR, SO VERY, VERY CLEAR: “And to the extent that Israeli actions have undermined the effectiveness of the Palestinian force, or the authority of the state relative to the average citizen, is something that we don’t agree with and have made our position clear.”

Due to fog, he actually had to drive into Palestine. So he says he now sort of understands the frustrations Palestinians feel at Israeli checkpoints: “You’ll be happy to hear that my motorcade of a mere 45 cars was able to make it through without being stopped. (Laughter.)” The transcript fails to report if any of those laughing were Palestinian. “My judgment is, I can understand frustrations.” But “The security of a state is essential, particularly in a day and age when people simply disregard the value of human life, and kill.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, they don’t want a state on their border from which attacks would be launched. I can understand that. Any reasonable person can understand that.”

IN OTHER CHEESY WORDS: “In other words, as I said earlier in my administration, I said, Swiss cheese isn’t going to work when it comes to the outline of a state. And I mean that.”

THE QUESTION IS: “The question is whether or not the hard issues can be resolved and the vision emerges, so that the choice is clear amongst the Palestinians -- the choice being, do you want this state, or do you want the status quo? Do you want a future based upon a democratic state, or do you want the same old stuff? And that’s a choice that I’m confident that if the Palestinian people are given, they will choose peace.”

CLEAR, SO VERY, VERY, ABUNDANTLY CLEAR: “And I’m convinced his government will yield a hopeful future. And the best way to make that abundantly clear is for there to be a vision that’s understandable.”

“See, the past has just been empty words, you know.” Oh, I know, I know.

Later in Jerusalem, he summarized his trip thus far for reporters: “I called upon both leaders to make sure their teams negotiate seriously, starting right now.” Take off those Groucho glasses. He said there should be an end to occupation, and that Palestine should be viable and contiguous. But the border should “reflect current realities” and he thinks he can “resolve” the issue of Palestinian refugees through compensation rather than return. So good luck with that.

In the afternoon, he went to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Here he is at the Door of Humility:

And here he and Condi are where the Baby Jeebus was born. CAPTION CONTEST!

He said of the visit, “It’s a fascinating history in this church, so not only was my soul uplifted, my knowledge of history was enriched.”

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