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Clueless Condi: Bombs, Brahms, and ‘Birth Pangs’

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Yet another reason to be worried about your future, courtesy of the Bush administration: our nation's top diplomat equates the death and destruction afflicting the Middle East with... labor contractions. "What we're seeing here," said Condi Rice before heading to the war zone, "in a sense, is...the birth pangs of a new Middle East." It takes a cockeyed optimist -- or a delusional zealot -- to see the good in all that suffering. But, apparently, Rice is not alone. In Rush Limbaugh's opinion, "Bush is sitting around the White House pretty happy with what's going on in the Middle East -- there's a new paradigm going on." This sunny-side-up judgment was borne out during Bush's get-away day joint press conference with Tony Blair. "This is a moment of intense conflict in the Middle East," said the president, "yet our aim is to turn it into a moment of opportunity." Ah, yes... when life hands you Lebanons, make lemonade.

Birth pangs? New paradigm? Moment of opportunity? Is George Orwell alive and well and working in the GOP's messaging department?

But, to be fair, Condi is not completely insensitive to the gravity of the situation. Out of respect for the carnage in the Middle East, she opted out of the traditional comedy skits at last week's Asian security talks in Kuala Lumpur (who'll ever forget Colin Powell's 2004 performance of YMCA?) -- choosing instead to perform two pieces from the brooding classical repertoire of Johannes Brahms.

"It is a serious time," she said "it is not a time that is frivolous, and I will play something that is in accordance with my serious mood." By all accounts, the gathered diplomats and foreign ministers ate it up. "Oh, beautiful, beautiful," gushed Philippines Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo. "She's a great pianist."

It's good to know that despite the geopolitical upheaval, the world's civil servants still know how to appreciate a gal who can tickle the ivories.

The body count may be rising in Baghdad and Beirut but, really, who can resist Brahms' Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Minor, Opus 108?