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Egypt just can’t let go of Egypt. I thought surely that with the election and inauguration of Barack Obama, the Bush bashing would end. But even with Bush in his Lone Star exile, the people here have a lot to say about him — and little of it good.
This is largely a reflection of the fact that Obama has yet to make much of a mark out here. His Middle East efforts have focused largely on withdrawing troops from Iraq and maintaining security there. Sure he’s made some high-level gestures towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but he hasn’t said or done anything yet to really sway public opinion in Egypt.
If Obama’s got one thing going for him here, it’s low expectations. Most Egyptians expect him to be better than Bush but few see him yet as the sort of transformative leader that some in the U.S. do. That means, for a President with a knack for showmanship, when he finally decides to visit he’ll have the opportunity to make a strong statement and to begin reshaping U.S.-Arab relations. In the meantime, Obama will remain in limbo and Bush will stay public enemy number 1.