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Loving Condi

The Atlanticcover storypiece
Rice enters the room for the night's roundtable with her usual perfect posture, her walk somewhere between a march and a glide.

If nothing she says is particularly new or informative, it is hard not to be captivated by the secretary's mastery of the improvised sign language that briefers use to add emphasis and keep their audiences awake through lengthy stretches of officialese.

"There is an awful lot in the road map that can provide a guide," she says, turning her hand on its side and effecting a quick series of knifelike gestures on the table in front of her, promising swift and clear action--cutting a deal. To a follow-up question about the conditions of the road map, she notes the old view that "you had to fulfill everything in the road map before you could have discussions of the destination," crossing her arms defensively in front of her chest to indicate that the idea she has just expressed is now seen as a form of Israeli intransigence. When she mentions the "unity government," she holds her index fingers parallel to each other, to indicate that the government consists of two separate entities, one led by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, which we will boycott, and the other led by President Abbas, whom we will continue to talk to. At the same time, she says, the Palestinians do have "obligations, certain responsibilities." Here she accompanies her words with the most elaborate pantomime of the night, a three-part display in which she opens her eyes wide, points with her index finger, and then jabs hard at the air three times.
Isaac Chotiner