An interesting observation, don't you think?
From Baghdad to Beirut, people said in recent interviews that they are unfamiliar with his policies, except for his plan to move quickly to pull US troops out of Iraq.
In general, they said they prefer Obama over the likely Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, whom they view as unsympathetic to Arabs.
But even those who like Obama's personality are not expecting him to initiate major turnabouts on US Middle East policies, particularly on the most contentious one of all, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"The only way that Obama will be better for us is that he will try to suck the life out of the Arabs through diplomacy, while Bush tried to do it through war," says Fathy Tantawy as he inspects a small carburetor on the table next to his tea cup in a Cairo cafe.
"When they look at the Middle East they all have the same thoughts, whether it's Obama or Clinton's wife or Bush or … who is that other guy on TV?" He pauses to think. "Oh yeah, McCain."
One of the widespread perceptions about Obama in this election is that he will do a better job than McCain in bringing peace to the Mideast (along with making the oceans recede, re-freezing the polar ice caps, singlehandedly solving our economic woes, raising the tone of network television, and rooting out corruption in New Orleans, though every sane person knows that last one is too silly to consider). So it's refreshing to hear people who live in that region express some skepticism and doubt about Obama, especially given the rather uncritical treatment he keeps getting from the press, despite the fact that his policies so far seem to be a jumble of vague generalities, wishful thinking, and oratorical flourishes.
Would McCain be any better in ensuring peace in the Mideast? Or is the man in Cairo right? Do all our elites, when they look at that troubled but oil-rich region, really have the same thoughts?