America Looks to New Hampshire, Bush Goes to Jerusalem

America Looks to New Hampshire, Bush Goes to Jerusalem

A poignant human and political drama always begins to unfold in American life at this time in the election cycle, when the country turns its attention to choosing a new president and begins to ignore the man in the Oval Office. Americans become mesmerized, electrified, even obsessed with the campaign. All the while, the sitting president still has a long time in his contract as leader of the most powerful country in the world. And yet, the resident of the White House starts looking strangely unimportant, his image begins to fade from the evening news, and even his most passionate detractors shift their focus away from him. At this time, the script calls for the president to concede the domestic stage to those who would succeed him. This is when a president in the twilight of his reign heads out to far off lands -- preferably the Middle East -- in a final effort to make his mark for posterity.

And so, as Americans examined the stunning results from the New Hampshire primary, President George W. Bush landed in Israel, following the tradition of other would-be presidential peacemakers.

This time, the spectacle of a waning presidency is a gloomier vision than normal, because Bush's efforts to prod Israelis and Palestinians to make peace have created little if any optimism in either the Palestinian or Israeli camps.

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