Condi: 'I'm Not Good with Animals'
Each week, veteran Condiwatcher Peter Huestis (also known as Princess Sparkle Pony) provides a summary of the searing wit and infinite wisdom of America's Favorite Princess Diplomat™!
It was a superfun Condiweek, starting off with festive drinks in Dubai and ending with an apparently drunken farewell to an old friend. In between was another OMG SURPRISE! trip to Iraq and a frightening encounter with a dangerous bird. Relive the magic after the jump!
OK, I have to immediately skip to the end of the week, because on Friday, AP's Gerald Herbert shot one of my favorite EVER pictures of Condi at her farewell reception for diplo-pal Nicholas Burns. Take a look at this and tell me that she isn't obviously totally wasted:
So the week clearly ended with drinking, and it started that way, too! You may recall that I revealed in the last Condi Roundup that it was the Animagic Condibot, not the real Condoleezza Rice, who accompanied President Bush to the Middle East. I'm pretty sure, though, that on Monday, as soon as there were rumors of festive drinks to be had, they swapped in the real Madame Secretary. How do I know this? Honestly, look at that picture; do you really think a robot, no matter how cleverly constructed, could achieve that kind of suction power? I bet that guy was totally all, like, "I bet she could suck a golf ball through that thing."
But as delightful as the novelty drinks were, that wasn't even close to being the funniest thing that happened on Condi's little side trip to the United Arab Emirates. Try to picture the scene: Monday's party was in a big, plush Emir's tent, so naturally they had chained tigers lying around and falcons on perches like something out of an old Tintin comic. So please try to imagine the hilarity of this bizarre scene:
A tent with thick carpets, pillows for lounging, blazing lanterns, and food. Lots and lots of it, from bread with honey to grilled meats and sweets, all served by uniformed staff. Before the feast with a small group of White House aides and Emirati elite, the crown prince showed the president around. Next to carpets laid on the sand stood small pedestals, each stuck in the sand like a beach umbrella and each holding a magnificent falcon. At his host's urging, Bush hoisted one of the birds, using a protective mitt, and held it as the news cameras whirred. When the bird shifted suddenly, a startled Bush jumped slightly, then recovered.
"You're making him nervous," Bush told the assembled media. "He never had a press conference before." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice trailed her boss and kept her distance from the fierce-looking birds.
"I'm not good with animals," she was heard to remark. A few minutes later, however, she, too, was holding a bird, though not for long. Bush, who likes short meetings and early bedtimes, spent more than three hours at the tent encampment as a gray sky turned dark under a dramatic moon.
It fills me with sorrow to say that the photographers didn't publish any photos of Condi holding a falcon, but the thumbnail above shows a previous encounter she had with one of the hairdo-threatening birds. There are photos here of George getting totally into the whole bird thing. Still, though, just reading the sentence A few minutes later, however, she, too, was holding a bird, though not for long filled me with joy. She's a trooper! Also, her claim that she's "not good with animals"? Don't be modest, Condi, because I've seen you on Meet the Press and you did just fine.
Onward. On Tuesday, Dr. Ferragamo made a trip to Iraq, and would you believe that it was an unannounced surprise? Shocker! Here's the scene as provided by "government handout" (that's like paparazzi welfare or something):
Remember what I said a few weeks ago in our exhaustive guide to matching armchair photo-ops? About the weird Middle Eastern tendency to decorate with boxes of Kleenex? Check it out:
People may be dying, and things are a mess, but truly no nostril will be left behind in the New Iraq. And Condi told a really funny joke while she was in Baghdad! After saying at the press conference that the future of Iraq was "promising but fragile," she went on to say, while totally keeping a straight face, "I think people know a democratic and unified Iraq is here to stay." Let it never be said that she doesn't have a wicked, if dry, sense of humor! And the same is true of her Iraqi hosts. Consider this exchange:
SECRETARY RICE: My Arabic isn't very good, but I'm going to assume you welcomed me. (Laughter.)
FOREIGN MINISTER ZEBARI: Well, you're learning.
So funny, and not at all patronising! Anyway, you'd think that fixing all of Iraq's problems would be enough for one day, but oh no, back to Saudi Arabia she went to announce some big arms sale thingy, undoubtedly the real reason for the entire Middle Eastern adventure. It's funny, but if you think about it, Condi got up, went to Iraq, had a meeting, held a press conference, and got back to Saudi Arabia in time for an arms deal and another press conference. So how much working time did she actually have in Baghdad? Twenty minutes? Golly, she's efficient! At the Arabian presser, Condi spoke some words of wisdom about peace with the Israelis: "There are things that can be done" So true! She didn't reveal what these "things" were, but she's coy that way.
My favorite part of the post-arms-deal press thing, though, was at the very start, where the Saudi guy said, "It pleases me to welcome the U.S. media at this meeting with us this night." No doubt!
After that, whew! Condi deserved a day off. She was back on Thursday, though, to lead the boss through the treacherous waters of a matching armchairs photo-op with a man who I first assumed was Special Envoy for Super Long Neckties but later found out was Richard Williamson, our man in Sudan. And how to describe our efforts in Africa these days? Well, the natives are still ungrateful: "US it seems, is not Africa's friend, but rather its destroyer," concluded one local journalist on Saturday. Oh, snap!
Fridays are made for goodbyes, and that brings us full circle back to that wonderful picture at the top of the roundup of tipsy Condi saying later, gator, to Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns (sample headline: Diplomat's Departure Muddles Nuke Deal). And for reals, I really do think she was utterly wasted, because she went ahead and made a drunken pass at the mortified diplomat (AP Photo):
So what's in store for Our Heroine this week? She's been invited to emcee, with Gordon Brown, the World Economic Forum at a ski resort in Switzerland, so here's hoping for some ski-bunny photo-ops and maybe a snowball fight with Bono and Al Gore, who also will be there. Cross your fingers, wax your board, look out for falcons and stay tuned!
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