This is a story from more than six months ago being noticed in the Middle East — how a lone hen turkey on Bush’s ranch saved our relationship with then Crown Price and Regent of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz — now King of Saudi Arabia.
During the second intifada in 2002, when relations between the two countries were at a critical low point, George W. Bush tried to charm the Saudis. He first tried to win them over with an earnest conversation about religion — which, for some reason, did not go down well. But on learning that the Crown Prince liked his farm, George Bush decided to invite the regent of the Kingdom to Crawdord to share his farm with Prince Abdullah, which they toured on Bush’s Ford pickup.
I point out the different kinds of hardwood trees, the native prairie grasses that Laura had planted, and the grazing cattle. The crown prince sat silently. I wasn’t making much headway.
Then we reached a remote part of the property. A lone hen turkey was standing in the road. I stopped the truck. The bird stayed put.
“What is that?” the crown prince asked.
I told him it was a turkey. “Benjamin Franklin loved the turkey so much he wanted it to be America’s national bird,” I said.
Suddenly I felt the crown prince’s hand grab my arm. “My brother,” he said, “it is a sign from Allah. This is a good omen.”
I’ve never fully understood the significance of the bird, but I felt the tension begin to melt…The next day, I got a call from Mother and Dad. The crown prince had stopped in Houston to visit them. Mother said he had tears in his eyes as he recounted his time in Crawford and talked about what we could achieve together. For the rest of my presidency, my relationship with the crown prince — soon to be king — was extremely close. I had never seen a hen turkey on that part of the property before, and I haven’t seen one since.
Benjamin Franklin was right after all!