And just in time for Bush's "legacy" to kick in. Condoleeza Rice is trying to undo the damage of eight years of Bush neglect:
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Monday in voicing hope they could reach a peace agreement before President George W. Bush leaves office in January 2009.When we last saw a light at the end of the tunnel, Bill Clinton was President.
But wrapping up two days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, she again gave no date for a U.S.-led conference which all parties have said would serve as a launching pad for statehood negotiations.
Rice said only that the meeting, in Annapolis, Maryland, would take place "before the end of the year".
She offered no details on how Israel and the Palestinians might settle their deep divisions over core issues they have pledged to tackle after the conference: borders and the future of Jerusalem and millions of Palestinian refugees.
"The. Greatest. President. Ever." had a solution pretty nearly in hand, and had Yassir Arafat signed off on it, who knows where we'd be today?
Having chosen to leave this flashpoint and focus of anger alone to sort itself out until recently (turning their attention towards the ill-fated invasion of Iraq), the Bush administration had allowed things to get way out of hand before stepping in to try to settle things out.
And now? Well, saying peace is on "a wing and a prayer" is probably wishful thinking on our part. Yes, things have been quieter than they ever have been in this century. In 2003, the Bush administration, in a backhanded slap at both sides, negotiated a "road map" to peace, yet failed to insist in immediate implementation from either side, much less both sides.
Indeed, if anything, both sides have moved the goal posts back a bit with their actions in the wake of this agreement: Israel, rather than withdraw settlements, has done nothing to stop the expansion of some, and the Palestinians, rather than securing the border with Israel, have forced Israel to build walls and fences in some places.
Other key aspects of the Middle East policy that the Bushies have pursued have also either frozen in place (like democratic reforms in regimes like Saudi Arabia or Syria) or backpedaled (the current crisis in Pakistan is a good example).
And now, Condi Rice believes that she can somehow wrangle cats into a line in less than fourteen months.
One suspects someone in the policy shop at the White House was watching too many episodes of The West Wing's sixth season.
Hey, I guess if you can't be President Bill Clinton, you can at least pretend to be his TV character!