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OMG!!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 Diplomatâ„¢!

The New Year Condidrought is over .... Or is it? Last week got off to a rousing start with a slew of interviews and then climaxed with Our Heroine's trip to the Middle East with the boss. To a less practiced Condiwatcher, this would indicate a return to business-as-usual for the secretary of state. But I know better: the real Condoleezza Rice is still on vacation. What we've been seeing this past week has been the Condibot.


What is the Condibot? The labor-saving, Disneytronic construct occasionally trotted out by the administration when the real thing needs to catch up on her beauty sleep after a hard year, that's what!

Danger!It's no wonder the Condibot's been trotted out for duty. We already ruminated at length in this space about what an awful year 2007 was for Dr. Rice, and last week was exceptionally dull in Condiland. And it is at just such moments that I find the State Department tends to slip in the artificial diplomat. Think of the Condibot as a kind of "stay the course" deal: a holding pattern programmed with simple talking points and cunningly meaningless phrases.

In other words, it's almost impossible to tell the real thing from the robot. Sometimes, however, the Condibot develops a glitch, and that's how you can verify a sighting. And, indeed, one such glitch is detectable in "her" interview on Monday with Channel 10, Israel. Here are the first words from every response the "secretary" gave:

It's good to be with you.

Well...

Well...

Well...

In fact...

Well....

Well...

Well...

Well...

Well...

Well...

Thank you.

And the first words during her interview with BBC Arabic Television that same day:

Well...

Well...

Well...

Well...

Well...

Yes, well...

Well...

Well...

Well...

Well...

Well...

Um, OK, WELL, you get the idea. So that was the verbal glitch that allowed me to spot the Condibot.

Softball.jpgOnce spotted, it's fun to witness the Condibot trotting out old stories we've heard a million times before. Just as the Giulianibot, for instance, is programmed to refer to 9/11 at regular intervals, the artificial Condi must refer to the Alabama church fire from her childhood every chance she gets. The Condibot programmers needn't have bothered in this case, however, because the Channel 10 guy was more than willing to toss this outrageous softball to his thankful interviewee:

QUESTION: You are committed so much to the peace -- this peace process and I wonder if it has something to do with your background as a child in Alabama, witness hate crimes or witness terrorism? Is that one contributor to the fact you so much desire to bring peace to our region?

Ha, ha! Is that the nicest interviewer ever or what? I think the guy from BBC was suspicious, though, because he managed to trip up the Condibot with a trick question. See if you can spot the error in the exchange below:

QUESTION: I'm being told that is all, but just can I get a last question here? Once, Secretary Rice, you sit down, you are the first African American to be the Secretary of State here. When you sit down (inaudible) and you see this phenomenon of the first African American leading in the primaries, that is Senator Obama -- not as Secretary of State, regardless of your political affiliation -- how do you see that? How do you feel about that?

SECRETARY RICE: Look, I am constantly and consistently proud of America and how far we have come. And whether it is the fact that a black man is considered now a presidential candidate with a chance to win -- and by the way, there have been other important black leaders, but this is different, obviously different. Senator Obama is somebody I know. He was on my -- he is on my committee and I respect him.

I think ultimately, Americans will take a look and decide is this someone who shares my particular values, is this someone who will defend my interests, is this someone who holds policy views that are close to my own, and then they'll make up their minds and vote. And that's the very best thing about America today, because we've come a long way as a country when we can really believe that the decision about whether or not to vote for someone will be on whether or not that person represents your political views and your policy choices, not the issue of the color of the skin.

Did you spot the error in his question and notice the Condibot's failure to correct the inaccuracy? Hint: I've put a clue hidden in the picture embedded in this paragraph. Also, how hilariously meaningless and vague is the Condibot's response to the question about Obama? I mean, honestly, kudos to the programmers for coming up with language that verbose and yet so generalized as to be completely noncommittal. Bravo! One can only imagine the complexity of the "don't be too complimentary towards the Democrat" subroutines.

So maybe sending the Robot secretary of state on so many interviews was a little beyond its capabilities. What the Condibot truly excels at is just kinda standing around and nodding, giving non-answers and being generally agreeable. Here, last Tuesday, we see the Condibot doing just that, as captured by AP's Ron Edmonds:

Profiles in Discourage

See me after classI like the above photo, too, because you can clearly see one of the Elsa Peretti golden power modules placed at the robot's ear input. But speaking of input! OMG, how would you feel if they asked all of your colleagues, you know, how you're doing and they all said really, really bad?

The American Foreign Service Association did just that on Tuesday, giving La Rice failing marks in every category. One part of me gets filled with rage that they'd say such mean things about Condi, but the other half says, "They're obviously all commie unionists." Still ... ouch, huh?

Right this way to the kiddie tableBut let's get back to the Condibot. Obviously, it's really agreeable and doesn't steal the spotlight or get in the way, so it was perfect to accompany President Bush on his whole trip to the Middle East thingy which started on Wednesday.

Did you know that it cost $25,000 an hour to protect Bush 'n' Bot in Israel? Now THAT is more like it! I believe the Condibot team perfected its ability to stand worshipfully beside the POTUS by studying hours of footage of Nancy Reagan. Well done! But never mind diplomacy, because there was religion to exploit, too! Yay! And to prove it, here's AP snapper Pablo Martinez Monsivais' shot of the America Power duo at the noteworthy recent brawl scene, the Church of the Nativity:

OMG, who was born here?

Duck and cover!Totally Jesuslicious! Something tells me that was the highlight of Bush's visit, because not really much of anything else happened. But Bush said a funny thing! He turned to the Condibot at one point and totally said the US should have bombed Auschwitz "to stop the killing." The Condibot, trained not to speak up when something makes absolutely no sense, stood by and nodded.

Yes, yes, it was another one of those trips where suddenly everybody starts using the term "low expectations" like it's some kind of mantra which will get us through the next year. Maybe it is! But what, exactly, does low expectations mean? Well thank goodness for the Condibot, because it's equipped with a special obfuscatory dictionary which can take a simple term like "low expectations" and turn it into something a lot more impressive sounding:

Secretary of Rice Condoleezza Rice, traveling with Bush, said it is unrealistic to expect Arab leaders to suddenly reach out to Israel, their historic enemy.

"Some of this will happen over time," Rice told reporters aboard Air Force One, en route to Kuwait. "There isn't going to be a blinding flash in any of this, not on this trip, not on the next trip. But this is a process that is moving forward."

Neato, Condi, thanks for clearing that up!

So did we all learn something exciting today? Now I expect all of you to be able to spot the Condibot. It's fun! And speaking of fun, I just want to leave you with one final image, even though it leaks into the territory which will be covered in next week's Condi Roundup. Here she is this morning in Dubai sipping on a festive beverage (AP photo):

Tastes like low expectations!

So obviously this week is off to a good start! Yay! Stay tuned!

PREVIOUSLY: Condi's Saddest Condiweek

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