Making up with Karzai 

Oh, you!                                          (reuters photo)

In March when President Obama paid a call on Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he was all impatience and disdain. Karzai was running a corrupt government, the upcoming elections were already looking fixed and the drug trafficking -- well, it's complicated. Obama wanted him to straighten up and act like a responsible ally, subject -- whatever Karzai is these days.

Four days later, Karzai went scary crackers and threatened to join the Taliban. He blamed Western influences for messing up his election. He was all ranty, the White House was cross. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to work it out, but the White House warned that a planned visit by Karzai could get postponed if he kept talking smack. Both sides fumed and sulked.

But now after all the drams, Karzai's visit is upon us. The colorful leader -- swirling cape, smoldering countenance, furry hat -- arrived in Washington Monday ahead of a Wednesday visit with Obama. The White House is straining every muscle to show the rift is healed.

"President Obama has expressed his confidence in President Karzai and our work together," Ambassador Karl Eikenberry told reporters at the White House Monday.

"As you know, every relationship — every bilateral relationship, especially one that’s as close as we have with Afghanistan, they experience ups and downs," he said. "But what measures true partnership is the ability, when the stakes are as high as they are for Afghanistan and the United States of America, to be able to work our way through difficulties and come back together and still find ourselves well aligned."

Eikenberry made a rare appearance in the briefing room with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, to talk up how great the relationship is -- now. That tough love thing? Never mind. It didn't work. Notes the NYT:

This time, the Americans are pulling out all the stops for Mr. Karzai as part of a new charm offensive. Mrs. Clinton, one of the few people in the administration with a good rapport with him, has invited him for a stroll through the grounds of a private enclave in Georgetown. Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative to the region, was dispatched to Andrews Air Force Base at 7 a.m. on Monday to personally greet Mr. Karzai. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be Mr. Karzai’s host for a private dinner at the vice president’s mansion.

Even Obama is straightening up his tie and practicing his smile. The two will spend most of Wednesday together, followed by a rare joint press conference. Even more rare: Rumor at the White House says they will take more than one question, each!

                Do you believe in magic?

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