This exchange from the interview with AlArabiyya TV (the station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) summarizes it for me:
"THE PRESIDENT: Well, here's what I think is important. Look at the proposal that was put forth by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia --
THE PRESIDENT: I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal, but it took great courage --
There are several things to be said about this interview, and I don't believe that there is anything new in it whatsoever. I mean, CNN is lauding it as an example of how Obama (or Bushama) is willing to reach out to the Muslim world. I listened to it on my way from SF last night and CNN aired it in full. First, if the Bushama really wants to be different from Bush he would have selected AlJazeera and not al-Arabiyya. I mean, CNN does not know that Bush spoke to Arabic TV stations regularly, and Rice was a fixture on Al-Arabiyya TV. And they selected Al-Arabiyya because it is "friendly" to US interests and because on Al-Arabiyya TV US officials get softball questions. If Obama wanted to be different he would have chosen Al-Jazeera because it is the Arabs' favorite channel. Al-Arabiyya is the US government's favorite channel, and the US under Obama does not seem to want to respect the choices and preference of the Arab population. Secondly, Obama chose this station because he wanted to appease the Saudi royal family especially after the moping remarks of Prince Turki--the midwife of Al-Qa`idah and a key ally of the US. This president is signaling that he will be no different than Bush in coddling the Saudi Wahhabi dictatorship--a key ally of Israel today. Do you notice that Israel does not even make token noise about Saudi arms sales? It used to prod its lobby here in the US to put stiff resistance to any arms sale to Saudi Arabia, and then they deny the existence of a Saudi-Israeli conspiracy. Apparently, the Saudi King was not pleased that Obama or Bushama called Abu Mazen (the usurping president of the puppet PA) and Mubarak--and of course Olmert--on his first day on the job but not the Saudi autocrat. The president then called him the next day and the Saudi news agency reported that they discussed ways to even "strengthen and expand" the Saudi-American relations. Don't ever believe the promises of any presidential candidate regarding human rights or democracy when it comes to the Middle East: look at the example of the disgraced and failed president, Jimmy Carter who can't stop producing boring and insignificant books on the Middle East. Thirdly, there is nothing that Bushama said that was not said by Bush. The CNN guest, Aslan something who always impresses me with his lack of knowledge on the Middle East when he speaks on the Middle East, kept saying in awe that the president spoke respectfully about respect in his address to Muslims and Arabs. But so did Bush, and Bush went to a mosque in Washington, DC--in order to prepare for the bombs and missiles to fall on Muslim and Arab heads. Fourthly, Obama in talking about the Middle East--the Palestine question and beyond--suffers from an acute case of "economism" or economic reductionism. He has the tendency to reduce all Arab and Muslim issues to job and medical care. It is NOT only the economy--stupid. It is also about pride and dignity and Palestine AND about freedom from the severe oppression that people suffer under governments that are coddled and armed by the very same US of A. So the words fall hollow here. Fifthly, Obama as a representative of the White Man (and he can also be referred to as the White Man, analytically speaking just as Margaret Thatcher was a representative of the White Man) did not deviate from the deep racism that characterizes US foreign policy to the Arab-Israeli conflict. I mean when he refers to Israel's security as "paramount" he is basically saying (like previous US president) that the security of the Palestinians is inferior because they are seen as inferior people. There is no question about that. It means that and the racism is reflected clearly in the disregard of Israeli WMDs. It never comes up in any interview with US officials on Al-Arabiyya (it is featured regularly in AlJazeera as yesterday's interview with Brent Scowcroft showed). Karl Marx wrote somewhere about the danger of covering up the chain with flowers. Obama is no different than Bush but American bombs and missiles under his administration will be decorated and covered with flowers. If that is a reason to celebrate, please open the champagne bottles NOW.