Friday, July 28, 2006

International Affairs

Playing Brahms

That was quite a picture coming out of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday, Bush. Your Rice playing Brahms. I saw a video clip on one of last night's new programs and expected to see it re-run on Jon Stewart--but I didn't manage to stay up that late. There she sat at the grand piano, back ramrod straight, a picture of the kind of grim, joyless concentration a totally disciplined, self-martyring perfectionist brings to her task. No room for failuire. No room for a mistake. Anyway, I was curious enough to search for some further information about her perfomance online this morning, and this is what I came up with, quoted without attribution in Air America. I guess it's from the New York Times.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - In keeping with her mood and to reflect the world crises she tackles daily, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to play a somber piece of music to her Asian colleagues in Malaysia this week.

The Association of South East Asian Nations has a tradition of ministers performing usually silly skits at a gala dinner, but Rice, an accomplished pianist, said she was more at ease playing a serious, reflective piece, possibly by the composer Brahms.

“It is not a time that is frivolous. It is a serious time. I will play something that is in accordance with my serious mood,” said Rice, who had just attended a conference in Rome aimed at helping resolve the Lebanon crisis.

Rice said she would not be comfortable singing show tunes.

“I trust my piano playing more than I trust Karen’s singing,” joked Rice, referring to her public diplomacy chief, Karen Hughes, who is also in Kuala Lumpur. Hughes quickly shot back: “She’s right, I can’t even hum.”

A commendable blend of humor and lightheartedness from two of your favorite womenfolk, in this time of crisis, Bush. I just wish your Rice could seem a little more human once in a while, a little less like some scowling, robotic school ma'am bent on lecturing a bunch of unruly and mindless brats in the school yard. I guess this was an attempt to do just that, and it was, as the song says, about as far as she could go. But even Brahms seems incapable of melting steel.

Did you catch that picture of your Rice they used on the front page of the New York Times yesterday, with the President of Lebanon, after the stale-mated Rome talks? Couldn't get perfection, rejected anything less. Refused to consider even speaking to anyone who does not approach her own high moral standards. There she stood, with an infinitely weary hand to the aching brow, head slightly bent, averted from the camera, but the back still straight... It spoke, as they like to say, volumes. A picture of dejection and despair.


David said...

Would have been better if she played Imagine. Though she probably thinks it's by Lenin.

PeterAtLarge said...


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