|Posted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 8:53 am Post subject: Canada and the US - A timeless romance.
|As chronicled in the newspaper of record.
|In a New York Times article entitled 'Dance of Diplomacy Is Grist for the Gossip Mill' Helene Cooper wrote: |
[Unabridged, Emphasis added]: STELLARTON, Nova Scotia, Sept. 12 — There are perils to being unattached in the stodgy world of diplomacy. Sometimes it has seemed that all Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice needs to do is show up in public with a man, and people start talking.
The single, sophisticated American secretary of state once drew notice for wearing black stiletto knee-high boots with an above-the-knee black skirt while reviewing American troops in Germany, so she is bound to attract gossip. That is particularly true on the dry, acronym-ridden diplomatic circuit of NATO meetings, APEC forums and Asean conclaves, where much imagination has focused on possible romantic links between Ms. Rice and her counterparts.
Until now, Ms. Rice’s rumored matches have been, shall we say, unlikely ever to appear on the cover of GQ magazine. In July, Italy’s normally staid Corriere della Sera raised its eyebrows over a joint appearance in Rome between Italy’s similarly staid foreign minister, Massimo D’Alema, and Ms. Rice. In April, a headline in The Boston Globe promised a tale of “Jack and Condi: A Love Story,” after Ms. Rice gave the pullout bed aboard her plane to the former British foreign minister, Jack Straw, during a surprise trip to Baghdad from Blackpool, England, where she was visiting Mr. Straw’s hometown.
But it took a two-hour flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia, this week, followed by a 90-minute motorcade north up Highway 102 to Pictou County, for Ms. Rice to find herself linked to someone with similar star appeal: Peter MacKay of Canada, the single, sophisticated foreign minister, routinely named Canada’s sexiest M.P. by The Hill Times in Ottawa, and the closest thing to eye candy on the diplomatic circuit. Tall, athletic, young, blond and recently dumped by his girlfriend, a fellow member of Parliament, Belinda Stronach, who parted with him when she switched parties, Mr. MacKay does not look like your usual foreign minister.
He has a tan and the build of someone who spends his time on the rugby field, not holed up reading G-8 communiqués. Sure, at 40 years old, he is younger than Ms. Rice, who is 51, but that did not stop gossips from engaging in baseless speculating.
Even the protesters who routinely show up wherever Ms. Rice goes got in on the act. “Pete, Condi, Make Love Not War,” read one sign, carried by a grinning demonstrator who had roused himself to take a position early Tuesday morning in front of the Museum of Industry here, where the two spoke to local leaders and the press.
O.K., there needs to be a disclaimer right here. Foreign ministers rarely have a lot of alone time together. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Ms. Rice and Mr. MacKay are linked by anything more than their shared status as singletons.
The State Department has been quick to dump cold water over MacKay-Rice innuendoes. “No, there were no candles,” Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said in exasperation when reporters asked for further details about a working dinner on Monday when the two sat side by side at the Pictou Lodge Resort. Mr. McCormack pointed out that the dinner was not even intimate: 14 aides and six security guards were present.
“It was a well lighted dinner, with electricity-based lighting,” Mr. McCormack said.
But reporters tend to get bored pretty fast — there is only so much ink anyone can devote to softwood lumber trade spats and overfishing in the North Atlantic. And a bored reporter is a gossipy reporter, as demonstrated by the chatter last year after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld took a dinner cruise up a Norwegian fjord and sipped wine with his counterpart, the Norwegian defense minister, Kristin Krohn Devold. (She gave him a sweater; he gave her a designer bag.)
If you believe the blogs, Mr. MacKay has been sweet on Ms. Rice since their first meeting in Washington last year. “Peter McKay has a crush... ” said a headline on the Web site NowPublic, atop a giant photo of Ms. Rice, “...on Condoleezza Rice.” The subhead continued: “Well, they are both single after all.’’
Ms. Rice and Mr. MacKay even made the “Hot and Not” list in a column in the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail on Saturday. “Hot: Peter MacKay and Condoleezza Rice,” the column, Ottawa Notebook, read.
The two do keep offering up tantalizing tidbits and comments to take out of context and misconstrue. For instance, after the Rome meeting in July, Ms. Rice gave Mr. McKay a ride aboard her plane to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for a conference with Southeast Asian countries. O.K., the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, got a lift, too, but he looks like, well, a diplomat.
On Tuesday morning, Ms. Rice and Mr. MacKay strolled up to their side-by-side daises to talk to the folks here. “I am just delighted to have Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, here in my hometown,” gushed a beaming Mr. MacKay, wearing a pearl gray suit, pink and blue striped tie.
He switched to bad French, even to some American ears, and said something about Longfellow’s poem “Evangeline.” He mentioned Nova Scotia’s rich black history, citing the “black loyalist community, Canada’s oldest community of African heritage.”
Then, he said, “Something else I’ve learned about Secretary Rice is she loves the cool Atlantic breezes here in Nova Scotia, and she left the window open last night.” The audience tittered.
At the end of his speech, he took off his glasses, turned to Ms. Rice and said, “Please come back again.”
Ms. Rice, clad in a yellow jacket, black pencil skirt and black heels, also offered plenty of fodder. She repeatedly called Mr. MacKay “Peter” (he called her “Secretary Rice” or “Miss Rice”), confirmed the sleeping-with-the-window-open bit, and told the assembled local leaders that Mr. MacKay had introduced her to his family, including his father and stepmother, the night before.
Family is important, she said, with a sly smile, because “they remind you of the things you did when you were 5 years old.” Beside her, Mr. MacKay grinned and blushed.
Le Canada et les Etats-Unis: maintenant, plus proche que jamais.
Last edited by cbasu on Wed Sep 13, 2006 10:27 am; edited 3 times in total