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Condi Media Watch

Today's edition comes courtesy of Elisabeth Bumiller, whose front page NYT story discusses Rice's "evolution" on the matter of U.S. engagement in Middle East peace talks. Bumiller's piece has all the hallmarks we've come to know and expect from gushing Condi profiles. First, an early sentence (which the author must know is grossly exaggerated) about Rice's committment to some particular cause:

Nearly seven tumultuous years later, Ms. Rice, as secretary of state, has led the Bush administration to a startling turnaround and is now thrusting the United States as forcefully as Mr. Clinton once did into the role of mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians. [Italics Mine]

Bumiller really believes this? Next, we have the supposed "causes" of Rice's views:

Ms. Rice’s thinking on the Middle East changed for several reasons, her aides said. She has been under increasing pressure to get involved in the peace negotiations from European and Arab leaders whose support she needs for the campaign of diplomatic and economic pressures on Iran. She considers it equally important, her aides said, to shore up the moderate leadership of Mr. Abbas, who is facing a sharp internal challenge from the more militant Hamas faction.

Then, the all-too-telling anecdote:

Ms. Rice, who had heralded the election as a symbol of the new stirrings of democracy in the Middle East, was so blindsided by the victory that she was startled when she saw a crawl of words on her television screen while exercising on her elliptical trainer the morning after the election: “In wake of Hamas victory, Palestinian cabinet resigns.”

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’” Ms. Rice recalled. When the crawl continued, she got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department.

“I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’” Ms. Rice recalled. “And they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, Hamas won?’”

Oh dear. Finally,  the belated admission that the reasons behind Rice's "maturation" are very easily explained. 

Since then, Ms. Rice has made eight trips to the region, and her supporters say she remains determined against the odds. “She knows very well if she doesn’t do anything, she will be Iraq,” a European diplomat and a friend of hers said.

For the best/worst example of this sort of hagiography, be sure and check out David Samuels' profile from last year.

--Isaac Chotiner