Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Worked Up Over Working Out

Jump on the Peace Train
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: November 28, 2007

Now I've been crying lately,
thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
why can't we live in bliss

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again
-Cat Stevens aka Yusuf Islam

In a serendipitous bit of luck, New York Times writer, the ever lovely Elizabeth Bumiller has written a bio titled Condoleezza Rice: An American Life which has supplied Dowd with the central metaphor for the Bush Administration’s Middle East peace process.
So it is telling that in Annapolis she is running such a seat-of-the-pants operation, which seems designed to rescue the images of a secretary of state and president who have spent more time working out in the gym than working on the peace process.
In an interview with USA Today, Condi serves up a movie metaphor for the Palestinian problem that Dowd slam dunks.
Nick Burns said — I felt — when he said it, I felt exactly that way, that we would think we had it all pieced together, we would go home, and it's like Groundhog Day; the next day you would come in and it had come apart again.
Condi has compared trying to broker deals in the Middle East to “Groundhog Day.” An Annapolis-inspired breakthrough would be thrilling, but it will be tough for Madame Secretary to turn around her reputation after so many instances of Mideast malpractice.
You see, even though Bill Murray relives the same day over and over again, he eventually learns from his mistakes and triumphs. No such signs of progress are predicted in Annapolis.

When Dowd gets worked up, her alliterative activity goes on overdrive.
The tight-as-a-tick team of W. and Condi have been consistently culturally obtuse on the Middle East, even with a pricey worldwide operation designed to keep them in the loop.

First, Condi missed the scorching significance of the August 2001 presidential daily brief headlined “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” “An explosive title on a nonexplosive piece,” as she later dismissively described it.

Then she and W. failed to fathom that if Iraq went wrong, Iran would benefit.

She enabled Bush’s bellicosity rather than putting a brake on it.

She let Rummy waltz away with the occupation and only got back some control after he’d made a historic hash of it.
Then Dowd returns to the central metaphor of the article, the exercise routine.
As she described it to Bumiller, she went upstairs at 5 a.m. the morning after the Palestinian elections in 2006 to the gym in her Watergate apartment to exercise on her elliptical machine. She saw the news crawl reporting the Hamas victory.

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’ ” she said. She kept exercising for awhile but finally got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department. “I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’ and they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness! Hamas won?’ ”

When she couldn’t reach the State Department official on the ground in the Palestinian territories, she did what any loyal Bushie would do: She got back on the elliptical.

“I thought, might as well finish exercising,” Rice told Bumiller. “It’s going to be a really long day.” It was one of the few times she was prescient on the Middle East.
You see, just like trying to achieve peace in the Middle East, working out on an elliptical machine takes a lot of effort and gets you all sweaty but you always end up back in the same place you started.

1 comment:

Robin said...

You see, just like trying to achieve peace in the Middle East, working out on an elliptical machine takes a lot of effort and gets you all sweaty but you always end up back in the same place you started.

That's perfectly apt and I'm pretty sure it did not occur to Dowd or she would have written it. It's too lovely to resist and is further evidence that we're living in a movie.