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Condi Rice in U.K. Flunks Reporter's 'Sgt. Pepper' Test

Editor and Publisher | April 3 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's goodwill trip to England has been met with protests at nearly every stop, and she had to explain Saturday that when she said that the U.S. had made "thousands" of mistakes in Iraq she meant figuratively, not literally. But, at least in some eyes, the trip hit rock bottom when she failed to get a famous Beatles reference--even after she'd visited their hometown of Liverpool.

Suddenly the trip turned into a "Magical Mystery Tour."

Rice, a classically trained pianist and student of the great composers, has said she is a Beatles fan. But she looked blank during a stopover in British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's hometown of Blackburn, when a British reporter refered to the "4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire."

Straw jumped in to explain that the line was from the classic 1967 Beatles song "A Day in the Life," on their album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The Beatles were referring to a newspaper article about the Blackburn roads surveyor‘s count of 4,000 potholes in the area.

The reporter asked Rice to sing a few bars. She meant the part about the 4,000 holes. "But Rice, in over her head in Beatles trivia and looking sorry she had gotten into the whole thing," according to the Associated Press, woodenly sang the title "Sgt. Pepper‘s Lonely Heart‘s Club Band," then left with Straw.

The British press then started referring to Rice's "Magical Mystery Tour," the name of another famed Beatles album. The Times of London ran an editorial cartoon of Rice and Straw holding up a hole-ridden sign labeled "The Case for War."

Later, at a press conference, asked to name some of the "thousands" of mistakes she had said the U.S. made in Iraq, Rice replied: "First of all, I meant it figuratively, not literally. Let me be very clear about that. I wasn't sitting around counting. The point I was making to the questioner ... is that, of course, if you've ever made decisions, you've undoubtedly made mistakes.

"The important thing is to get the big strategic decisions right, and that I am confident that the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein and give the Iraqi people an opportunity for peace and for democracy is the right decision."

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