Magazine article The Nation

Bush and the Camels

Magazine article The Nation

Bush and the Camels

Article excerpt

Bush and the Camels

Even by the baroque standards of U.S. political campaigning, George Bush's visit to Jordan some weeks ago seems to have extended the frontiers of arrogant tomfoolery. An amusing description by Charles Wallace appeared in the Los Angeles Times on August 2.

The purpose of the voyage to the Middle East was, naturally, to display Bush as a man seasoned in the arts of international diplomacy, in contrast to such rivals as Jack Kemp and Pat Robertson. His first port of call was Israel, where his handlers had lined up no less than thirty-five separate photo opportunities. For this portion of the jaunt the Vice President brought along a private film crew to videotape his appearances. The crew was sent home when Bush headed for Jordan, on the reasoning, according to one Bush adviser, that "there is nothing to be gained showing him schmoozing with Arabs.' Schmoozing with camels was another matter. Bush's men demanded that these beasts be present at every stop on the Vice President's itinerary, even though camels are rarely seen in Jordan.

When it turned out that the tiny Jordanian Air Force did not have enough helicopters to ferry about Bush, his staff and press retinue, one of his aides suggested that Jordan borrow some helicopters from Israel--a country with which the Hashemite Kingdom is still technically at war.

Bush's men also suggested that for aesthetic reasons the Jordanian Army change the color of its uniform from white to red, which request was refused. The King and Queen laid on a fine lunch of smoked salmon and caviar for Bush's press corps, but an advisory from the Bush team warned, "You should assume that all food is contaminated and requires special attention before consumption.'

Bush's aides wanted pictures of him peering through binoculars at "enemy territory,' but the State Department official on the scene pointed out that the territory to which Bush was directing his attention was Israel, so Bush stared at the Golan Heights instead. …

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