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Kings have special qualifications

So do State Dept. spokespeople

As a forum for tragicomic relief, daily U.S. State Department press briefings with P.J. Crowley rarely disappoint.

The following is an excerpt from yesterday’s transcript. In reference to Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who recently sacked the Jordanian cabinet and acquired a new one in an attempt to appease protesters demanding political and economic reforms, the State Dept. authority announces:

I think I saw a story today where [the king] acknowledged that Jordan’s own efforts up to this point have been too slow.”

A member of the audience asks a question on the subject of potential differences between U.S. support for regional royalty and U.S. support for regional dictators who occasionally stage elections. Crowley responds with a lot of words amounting to nothing, but the questioner gets a good line in.

QUESTION: P.J., is your – is U.S. support for King Abdullah in any way different than what had been your support for [Egypt’s Hosni] Mubarak, because he is a king, he’s not elected?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, Jordan is a significant partner in the region. King Abdullah – just like this father, King Hussein, and just like President Mubarak – have been strong supporters and participants in the efforts to pursue Middle East peace. And notwithstanding the ongoing change or transformation that may be occurring across the region, our interests remain the same. And it is our interests that guide our relationship. We have a very strong relationship with King Abdullah. We will look forward to working with his new cabinet. But we have this strong partnership because we have many shared interests.

QUESTION: Well, fair enough – but are – does that mean that monarchs are safe? If there’s a popular uprising that – you opened with talking about Nepal, where a popular uprising took down a monarchy. You have monarchs in the Middle East, and not just King Abdullah but throughout the Gulf who enjoy U.S. support and – from Morocco to Bahrain. And I’m just wondering, is it different if they’re a king or if —

MR. CROWLEY: No, but our message to Jordan is our message to Egypt is our message to Yemen. It’s the message that the Secretary carried in her speech in Doha. We want to see… political and economic reform. The form of government, the particular leaders – kings have some special qualifications, but these are —

QUESTION: Other than their genes – they have special qualifications? (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: These are ultimately matters to be determined in these countries. So… we want to see the kind of economic reform that King Abdullah has been advocating. But for all of the countries in the region, as we’ve said many times, actions will be imperative.

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