As I was reviewing what may have emerged from Bush's marathon trip to the Middle East, it dawned on me as I watched one photo-op after another that all of this palsy-walsy stuff going on with petro-sheikhs and Arab kings had less to do with the serious business of Iran, Iraq or Osama Bin Laden, and more to do with the future post-POTUS speaking engagements and the construction costs of the planned Bush presidential library.
Let me explain (or do I really have to?)
Where did Bush go:
Israel: OK, check that box for wealthy Republican Jewish donors.
United Arab Emirates: Sheikh Mohammed is one incredibly wealthy dude. Why else would Bush agree to spend time falconing when a visit to a U.S. aircraft carrier just up the road would have been the right presidential thing to do.
Bahrain: Home of CENTCOM (not a major part of the itinerary), but also a very friendly and very wealthy king.
Saudi Arabia: Well, now, the Saudis gave and gave again to 41's library, and here was Bush hanging around with King Abdullah bonding over Arabian stallions. How much would that nice model of the West Wing of the White House cost to build? Oh, not to forget, a few camouflaged policy crumbs were thrown to the American people when Bush did muster the will to appeal for more Saudi oil production, only to be turned down. So much for that vaunted Bush-Abdullah friendship.
I hope I am wrong, and that facts will bear out that there was no pecuniary motive to Bush's grand tour other than a long-overdue effort by him to vainly attempt to repair the damage his administration has wrought on U.S. interests in the Middle East. Except I just cannot come up with anything tangible that Bush actually accomplished on the trip and neither can his WH coterie briefing the accompanying press pool.
He even did not go to visit our troops in Iraq! Yeah, I know, he did send Condi to Baghdad while he visited the stables.
Isn't it fun being president when you can dance with Arabian swords, play with falcons in the desert, admire thoroughbred Arabian stallions at a stable, and receive all sorts of jewels and decorations.
Quite a victory lap, eh George!