Victories in the New Hampshire presidential primary by Republican Senator John McCain, and Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton appear the have little correlation with President George Bush‘s visit to Israel today and several other Middle Eastern countries. McCain, who is usually depicted as a bit of a hawk, won comfortably over his closest rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney; while Clinton, barely got by her closest rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. While it’s still too early to tell who will wind up as their party’s official nominee, the next few weeks will definitely tell which way the political winds are blowing for hopefuls in both major political parties.
As for Bush, in what will most likely be his last major visit to the this part of the world, he really doesn’t have to worry what happens to anyone representing his political party, the Republicans, as most of the people running are not depending on his support anyway. That means that Mr. Bush can concentrate of trying to realize some of his plans concerning implementing a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as making sure that oil rich countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia remain under America’s sphere of influence in order to keep that increasingly expensive commodity, oil, flowing into American refineries, and hence into American SUV’s.
Iran, especially after their aborted attempt to create an international incident with American naval vessels in the Straits of Hormuz, is another factor that Bush will have to deal with until he leaves office on January 20, 2009. Concerning who will be replacing him, all the outgoing president can do is to wish his successor will, whoever that person may be.
Perhaps that’s what is good about being an outgoing two term president. He is not really what is known as a “lame duck” as he is not under any serious political cloud such as an incumbent president is when losing a re-election bid. His vice president, Dick Cheney, is too old and too sick to run for the office, and Bush himself doesn’t appear, at this point in time anyway, to be personally indorsing any of his party’s candidates, including John McCain.
Bush’s main “cloud” if one wants to call it that is the matter of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath; which will be a main concern for his replacement, especially if he (or she) is a Democrat. Other issues, including the ongoing War on Terror and the current goings-on the Middle East (the focus of his current Middle East visit) will also carry over to his successor as no major breakthroughs will probably come to pass this year. And this is despite assurances by Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and P.A. Authority President Abbas that there might be some encouraging steps made towards a final peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Other problems including global warming, a possible U.S. recession, Pakistan’s current sate of flux, and Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Ladin and Ayman al Zawahiri still presumed to be alive and kicking will be left to whoever is sitting in the Oval Office next January 21.
As for Bush, it will be back to Texas barbeques and Lone Star Beer, or whatever tickles his fancy.