King Abdullah Meets the People -- One by One

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AMMAN: Americans may be content to know their leaders through television, but Jordanians like a little face time with theirs. As many as 20,000 people streamed through the palace Wednesday to offer personal condolences to King Abdullah -- the second successive day on which the palace doors were open to all Jordanians. The King greeted Bedouin tribesmen and Palestinian refugees, military officers and businessmen, clerics and leaders of all political parties -- and he heard each one out. "It's been an extraordinary spectacle to Western eyes," says TIME Middle East correspondent Scott MacLeod. "But this is the tradition here, where society is taught to think of itself as an extended family."

While granting an audience to every Jordanian who seeks one may seem like an exhausting p.r. exercise for the new king, it's a tested formula for securing loyalty in this potentially fractious nation. "This is a tremendous reaffirmation of the nation's faith in their rulers," says MacLeod. Memo to Bill Clinton: Don't try this at home.