Just a place to discuss the things coming up in Trump’s Trip. (So it doesn’t fill up tips)
On the CBSN online CBS news they had live coverage of his tour of the museum that had been the home of the Saudi King when he was a child. In the central courtyard they had the “Dancing Of The Swords”. The whole thing was impressive and somewhat surreal.
A central area, with a low wall (maybe a meter high?) around it that could be easily vaulted, surrounded by a walkway 2 or 3 people wide, then the surrounding rooms. Trump and the King in the lead of the party, Melania and the rest of the party following. all of them surrounded by a mixed security party of Saudi royal guards and Secret Service. The party stopping at photos on the wall where the King would point at something ( I’m guessing describing some aspect of his life from the photo ). So what made it “surreal” even a little bit?
Well, first off, you have a few dozen clearly athletic men, waving swords around, all of a dozen feet from the U.S. President. Then it’s a traditionally “Males Only” sort of thing in a country where women wear loose fitting black tents and can’t go out without an escort, and where for some reason they have a fixation on women’s hair as a sexuality thing, and there is Melania is a … well, not quite ‘slinky’ but definitely “close fitting” red dress, beautiful and with flowing hair.
So the dancers are trying very hard to not “notice” Melania, but some folks from time to time seem to sneak a peek. The Saudi royal guards are in modern uniform (dark, western style, uniforms – sharp looking) while the royals and their group are in those long white robes with the red hat/scarf thing. The dancers in traditional Arab garb, though I don’t know the period, looks like about Laurence Of Arabia era to me, but someone who knows can correct me. US Secret Service in their usual “blend in” western suits standing out like crazy.
So this ring of Saudi Royal Guards is moving with the party, keeping a bit out from them and facing outward. Their are some US Secret Service mixed with them, their are a bunch of Saudi Family (my guess, white robe red hat guys) looking at the party from the courtyard, and then the dancers (different head cover) waving their swords around to rhythmic drum music and variously swaying or having a group moving in rotation together. Then the King being blissfully engaged in his showing off of photos and remembering, Trump trying to be engaged with him, but sometimes looking over at the guys and swords, Melania standing out as a tall beacon of red in a sea of bland looking, while the ‘audience’ Saudis are looking at ‘them’ (and I suspect more at Melania…) all while the Secret Service guys are looking intense and focused and the Saudi guards are looking almost as tense.
From the King being blissfully unconcerned to the guards looking OMG Who Planned This!? to Melania doing the Catwalk Regal Disengaged to the Saudi Audience men all facing that way (backs to the camera to hard to say who they were looking at) to the dancers doing their thing (but looking a bit stern for some, bored for others, or maybe it’s part of the show to look stern) trying not to look at the party (and occasionally failing). All to a strong rhythmic drum beat and with more swords in one place than I’ve seen in ages.
It was also a bit odd to see the Secret Service AND Saudi royal guard mostly focused ‘outward’ yet sometimes ‘inward’ and occasionally looking askance at each other. Who DO you defend against in that context? You KNOW the guards and Secret Service are all armed.. or do you? And if NOT armed, what do you do with a dozen guys against 30 swordsmen? But it’s all in a “safe” place … You could just see that playing out on the faces of the different guards / Secret Service. So a ring of guards / Service would move forward, doing the look outward thing, but sort of nervously checking each other out, and glancing behind them. Cat’s and firecrackers come to mind…
And here I am, 1/2 a world away (10 time zones, so not a metaphor!) watching it all live on TV from my couch. Feeling a bit like a kid who was supposed to have gone to bed, sneaking a peak at the party I’m forbidden to attend.
I’m sure more will crop up during this Trump Trip, so feel free to add bits.
Sky News live feed:
Al Jazeera English live: