Now that Barack Obama's photo-op safari through the Middle East is over -- "Look, Obama-nation, I bagged the Western Wall!" -- I find there's still that detail about Jordan's King Abdullah II himself chauffeuring America's Sen. Obama (also himself) to the airport worth lingering over.
There the two men were, alone on the road -- at least, alone on the road in the middle of a full-metal motorcade -- cruising in the king's Mercedes 600 to the candidate's "Change you can believe in" Boeing 757 charter jet. What did they talk about?
Since the traveling press didn't even find out about what was discussed at the preceding dinner at the Jordanian palace, it's unlikely the rest of us will learn much about the even more private drive. Indeed, that same night, Fox's Bonney Kapp describes a mini media revolt after takeoff over two Obama campaign advisers' attempts to brief reporters on the plane about the Abdullah dinner "on background" (meaning not for attribution), which prompted one adviser, a former Clinton administration official, to declare "the briefing had to be on background because in all my years with the White House I never read-out a meeting on the record."
Kapp reports: "Press reminded the adviser that Obama was not the president, nor was this a White House trip."
Did the adviser then say -- "Well, slap my knee. I completely forgot Obama wasn't the president and that this wasn't a White House trip"?
Not exactly. Kapp notes: "The pair left without divulging details."
Oh well. We still have our imagination. On that moonlit drive, maybe Abdullah and Barack compared notes, say, on democracy versus monarchy. Given that the senator from Illinois considers this week abroad to be, as he put it on "Face the Nation," a quest for "substantive discussions with people like President Karzai or Prime Minister al-Maliki or President Sarkozy or others who (sic) I expect to be dealing with over the next eight to 10 years," maybe he asked the king for advice on sticking around even after his second term-and-a-half expires. Then again, maybe that's too presumptuous even for a presumptive nominee -- or is that vice versa?
On the whole, it's probably easier to imagine what wasn't said. For example, I seriously doubt Obama piped up from his bucket seat: "My middle name is the same as your father's first name." And here's a substantive question the U.S. senator surely didn't ask the Jordanian monarch: How is it that "honor killing" isn't a serious crime in Jordan, but that the Jordanian court system has brought criminal charges against a dozen European citizens, including Dutch politician Geert Wilders, for their attitudes on Islam as expressed in their own countries?