Living in a country whose Vice-President jetted to Riyadh to brief the Royal House of Saud about the Baker-Hamilton Commission report before we saw it, I believe this Administration keeps its oil buddies real close. Lately, though, they are just not that into President Pissypants:
President Bush enjoys hosting formal state dinners about as much as having a root canal. Or proposing tax increases. So his decision to schedule a mid-April White House gala for Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah signified the president's high regard for an Arab monarch who is also a Bush family friend.
Now the White House ponders what Abdullah's sudden and sparsely explained cancellation of the dinner signifies. Nothing good — especially for Condoleezza Rice's most important Middle East initiatives — is the clearest available answer.
Does Abdullah have a new BFF?
Abdullah gave a warm welcome to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Riyadh in early March, not long after the Saudis pressured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas into accepting a political accord that entrenches Hamas in an unwieldy coalition government with Abbas's Fatah movement.
Or does our BoyKing's Middle East fiasco dictate a realigned realignment?
A few months ago, Bandar was championing the confrontational "realignment" approach in Saudi family councils: Iran's power would be broken, the Syrians would have to give up hegemonic designs on Lebanon, etc., etc. Now the Saudi prince visits Tehran and Moscow regularly.
Well, at least the other Abdullah, of Jordan, still loves LittleBoots — oops, not so much:
Jordan's King Abdullah, who has spent more time in George W. Bush's Washington than any other foreign leader, has let the White House know that he can't make that state visit discussed for September. Can you do 2008? the king asks instead.
All this would just be a striped-pants diplomacy-set dustup, I suppose, if the US didn't have two battle carrier groups in the Straits of Hormuz, wargaming right up against Iran's increasingly twitchy military. Our enemies are talking to our friends, and our friends won't come for dinner: where does that leave the world's sole superpower's President — alone, isolated, friendless, waging a hugely unpopular war and with the fancy White House china gathering dust?
And this just in: Et tu, Abdullah?