Wednesday, January 16, 2008

World of Disrespect

Can we do better than this? Please?

One hour after his plea for more Saudi oil was publicly rejected by the kingdom's oil minister, President Bush made a private visit to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to again ask him to open the spigots.


Earlier Tuesday, Bush made his case for having OPEC, and particularly American ally Saudi Arabia, increase oil production as the price of gas hovers around $3 a gallon.

The Saudi oil minister, however, waited only a short time before announcing that oil prices would remain tied to market forces — a direct slap at Bush.

The president went over the head of the oil minister and made his case to King Abdullah and White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said the private conversation may have yielded some daylight in the Saudis' hard-line stance.

"The king says that he understands the situation. He's worried about high oil prices and how they can negatively affect economies around the world," Perino said aboard the presidential jetliner. "The president said there's a hope that as a result of these conversations that OPEC would be encouraged to authorize an increase in production … to help deal with the tight supply problems in this time when we have growing economies across the world, especially in China."

Meanwhile, a French chatterer reveals what America must do to ... you guessed it, win back the respect of the world.

Disgraced today throughout the four corners of the globe America would in a single leap, resume its lost grace, its capacity to inspire the imagination, that combination of myth and reality that makes it the country of all possibilities – the democracy par excellence that has such power of seduction and likeability, despite all of its gaping flaws.

What is it? Clean out the corruption at the U.N.? Guard peace and guide reconciliation in Iraq? Evolve a new energy network and tell the Saudis to go pound sand? Reconcile Israel and the Palestinians?

No, no, no, nothing so simple. All we have to do to make them all love us again is elect Obama.

After the Bush years, it would be a total image reversal, as fruitful and necessary as when America under Roosevelt became the global locomotive of the welfare state, social protections, or under Kennedy, when idealistic young people united and mobilized against racial discrimination.

Even the attempt at praise drips with condescension. Do we want this respect? Do you? I'd rather have the kind of respect that comes from a president who doesn't have to go to the Middle East and act like he's in the Welfare office.