“Gushing compliments make Palin blush” one headline in Dawn, Pakistan’s English-language daily, blushed. Pakistani feminists are enraged as are the religious conservatives. The Christian Science Monitor reports that “one radical Muslim prayer leader said the president shamed the nation for ‘indecent gestures, filthy remarks, and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt.'” Presumably, praising a non-Muslim lady in a pantsuit or a Muslim lady in a short skirt would be totally kosher. Or, at the very least, not earn you a fatwa.
Zardari is, of course, the widower of Benazir Bhutto, the twice former prime minister, who was assassinated last year. And where Pakistani feminists saw a macho man and religious conservatives saw sinful behavior, ordinary Pakistanis saw the potential for a foreign policy coup through romance. The “Zardari should marry Sarah Palin for the sake of world peace!!!!!” Facebook group has over 100 members and counting. Among the arguments for the union are “matrimony will stop the incursion of U.S forces in Pakistan,” “no more moose hunting, since you can’t find them in Pakistan” and polo races on the White House lawn. Sweet!
As far as inappropriate comments about American female politicians by foreign leaders go, one of my “favorites” belongs to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. As he once put it, “I have to confess, it was hard for me to concentrate in the conversation with Condoleezza Rice because she has very nice legs.”