Remember when Hillary Clinton promised to do things smarter than Bush? Let’s see how that’s coming along.
On her first visit to Russia, she gaffed badly on her language skills:
Hillary Clinton’s first visit to Russia would make Henry Kissinger …. blush?
After promising to “push the reset button” on relations with Moscow, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton planned to present Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a light-hearted gift at their talks here Friday night to symbolize the Obama administration’s desire for a new beginning in the relationship.
It didn’t quite work out as she planned.
She handed him a palm-sized box wrapped with a bow. Lavrov opened it and pulled out the gift—a red plastic button on a black base with a Russian word “peregruzka” printed on top.
“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton said as reporters, allowed in to observe the first few minutes of the meeting, watched.
“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said, to Clinton’s clear surprise. Instead of “reset,” he said the word on the box meant “overcharge.”
So, we really have no one in the State Department who can speak Russian? Ouch. First a set of DVDs from Target for Gordon Brown, and now a bad button. Perhaps the Obama administration should forego any future foreign gift giving for the sake of America’s reputation abroad …
Continuing her trip through Europe, she gaffed badly on her history:
Hillary Clinton raised eyebrows on her first visit to Europe as secretary of state when she mispronounced her EU counterparts’ names and claimed U.S. democracy was older than Europe’s.
…A veteran politician, Clinton compared the complex European political environment to that of the two-party U.S. system, before adding:
“I have never understood multiparty democracy.
“It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy.”
The remark provoked much headshaking in the parliament of a bloc that likes to trace back its democratic tradition thousands of years to the days of classical Greece.
One working lunch later with EU leaders, Clinton raised more eyebrows when she referred to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who stood beside her, as “High Representative Solano.”
She also dubbed European Commission External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as “Benito.”
Yep, that’s smarter, all right. But that wasn’t it. She also gaffed badly on human rights:
Egyptian policemen sexually assaulted prisoner Imad Kabir with a broomstick.
The violent scene of Imad writhing in agony as he was being sodomised with a broomstick was filmed and later circulated on the Egyptian blogs.
Torture by security forces is common in Egypt.
The Egyptian victim of the violent police abuse, Imad Kabir (pictured above), was sentenced to three months in jail for resisting the abuse.
When asked about Egypt’s horrible human rights record, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded, “We all have room for improvement.”
Perhaps, but when was the last time the U.S. sodomized and tortured prisoners simply because of religious differences? To equate the U.S. with Egypt on this score is insulting on many levels. But, she’s one of the blame-America-first crowd, so this is probably not the last time we’ll hear this sort of thing.
In addition to the gaffes, Clinton also illuminated some more Obama administration policies:
Clinton told young Europeans at the European Parliament that global economic turmoil provided a fresh opening. “Never waste a good crisis … Don’t waste it when it can have a very positive impact on climate change and energy security,” she said.
When Rahm Emanuel made his notorious “never let a crisis go to waste” comment, I assumed it was one of those occasions when a politician inadvertently told the truth, and that Emanuel would be taken to the woodshed by his boss. But no! The Obama administration proudly proclaims that it is exploiting the fear caused by the current economic crisis to advance its partisan agenda. Many others have made this point, but it is worth repeating: the Democrats accused the Bush administration, falsely, of doing exactly that after 9/11. And now they gleefully tell us that this is precisely their own strategy.
She also accused the U.S. of failing to adequately fight global warming and of having poor foreign policy skills (under Bush, of course). Isn’t the Secretary of State supposed to put America’s best foot forward? With policy leaders like Clinton, we probably won’t have many friends left after four years.
Ah, yes, it’s good to have a proper diplomat at State again, don’t you think?
There’s my two cents.