Saturday, October 27, 2007

Condi asks Carter & Clinton for tips on Mid-east mediation; quarters bounce off her buns

Eighth time lucky? It could make up for some missteps.
In her quest to kickstart a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians--and perhaps to distance herself from the Bush debacle in Iraq-- Dr Condoleezza Rice summoned two democratic American ex-presidents to get some handy hints on muddling through the Middle East negotiations. When she comes back on another leg of her shuttle diplomacy next week, she'll need to coax invitees to a showpiece peace meeting scheduled in Annapolis next month or in December. Expectations are sinking, so the plan is to deliver a diplomatic surprise. She's certainly been doing her homework, according to wire reports, however belatedly. The former scholar on soviet affairs is finally seeking advice beyond the counsel of the avuncular Republican, Henry Kissinger.

Other sources of advice have been former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross and ex-secretaries of state James Baker, Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright. Rice lunches frequently with Albright, whose father taught Rice at Denver University.
Rice has made clear she will devote all her energy in the Bush administration's final 14 months to get what others have failed to attain in the past -- a viable, independent Palestinian state living side by side with a secure Israel.

Meanwhile, it appears that the Secretary of State's private life is in quite a state and entails a bit of cautious maneuvering too. There are some scoops in Confidante, a biography of the stellar Ms Rice . In his new book, Glenn Kessler, a Washington Post reporter, ponders about her sexuality and goes on to note how her buns of steel can deflect a tossed quarter in mid-dance without her detecting it. The book highlights her unusual housing arrangement, a Palo Alto residence she co-owns with a single (white) Californian woman of a certain age. The mailbox would be almost comical: Rice and Bean. The partner is a single female film-maker named Randy Bean (no joke.) An openly gay male professor named Coit Blaker was also a silent partner, but has since sold out his share in the upscale suburban house. Dr Rice, who briefly was married to a black football player and has been squired around by an NFL official, prefers to deflect frivolous speculation about her sexual orientation. The public perception is that she is married to her job. However, much is read into her studied silence on gay issues. Being perceived as a gay Miscegenist will not further her politial fortunes with the Red States, but for now, Peace in the Middle East is enough on Rice's plate.

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