If you have never seen King Abdullah the Second of Jordan speak, you can now see him on YouTube, thanks to Charlie Rose.
The videos are: |here| from the Royal Palace in Jordan (date unknown, but after the Palestinian election and before the Iraqi one), |here| from Washington after a meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, |March 19, 2002 here|, and |September 16, 2003 here|with the sound quality so poor and out of sync you can hardly hear the video, also King Abdullah is shown |here| in the first two minutes of something called the YPO Leadership conference, date unknown.
Who can forget the King’s entrance into the public spotlight with the Middle Eastern soccer championship, less than a year after the death of his father, the late King Hussein. At every game the king was front and center wearing a sport jersey and jumping up from his seat with both arms straight up in the air whenever there was a goal. No wonder the Jordan team was so inspired to win.
And that poor player from Iraq who made a goal in the wrong direction, inadvertently scoring for Jordan. Things will not go well for him, my Palestinian friends told me. Uday, the son of Saddam Hussein, was in charge of the team and on his return for sure the player would be tortured or killed for that blunder.
On the night that Jordan won the championship, all over the country there was celebratory gunfire. I was watching with some Americans near Madaba and at the end of the game decided not to return to my lodging until all the gunfire was over.
I kept a photo of the King in my digs while I was in Jordan and still have one over my desk. The King’s speeches were available to read in the Jordan Times, somewhat buried in the back pages, but they always published the whole thing verbatim in an “unofficial transcript”. I remember reading Fidel Castro’s speeches back in college. Our university paper used to receive a copy of the Havana propaganda publication with Fidel’s speeches printed in the front. I never did get entirely through one speech. They were just the same thing over and over again. Viva the homeland, venceremos, we will win, etc, etc.
Abdullah’s speeches aren’t at all like that. They are incredibly well thought out. You have to wonder if Abdullah even has a speechwriter–where would he find someone who could express those ideas so well? Apparently he thinks on his feet a lot better than the American presidential candidates too, as I was always amazed by the way he was able to answer reporters’ questions off the cuff.
When I returned to the U.S. I found out that King Abdullah had been interviewed by Charlie Rose several times. Unfortunately you had to have a credit card and order the video which they would mail to you for a nominal fee. So if your old Jordanian roommate is in town overnight and you are in the mood to watch it NOW, too bad. Later the videos got put together into an archive, so you had to order several hours worth of shows to just see one of the king.
The king continued to make riveting speeches, at least from the standpoint of someone like me who was looking for enlightenment about the unfathomable Arab culture, politics, and current events. The Jordan Times continued to print his speeches in their internet edition. Unfortunately they were only online for a week, until their latest Sunday through Thursday issue replaced the previous weeks’ issue. I started cutting and pasting the entire speeches into my January 2004 archives. The Jordan Times now keeps more extensive archives, and the King’s own website has his written pieces that have been published in the west, but this is probably one of the few places you can still find online transcripts of some of the King’s previous speeches.
So now my favorite interviewer, Charlie Rose, and my favorite world leader, King Abdullah, are together on video and available for the world to see. Hopefully Charlies’ s archivists will get around to putting the dates on the videos (and fixing the sound) sometime soon.