March 8, 2009

Hillary climbs aboard the gaffe train

After the Obamas' gift giving mistakes, Michelle's thoughtless last minute gift for Britain's First Lady Sarah Brown and Obama's thoughtless gift for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, you'd think the White House would learn the finer art of gift exchange and do it quickly. A minor gaffe or two is forgivable - the Obama's are new to the international scene. But since this was supposed to be the administration that got international relations right - the one that improved on the "cowboy diplomacy" of the Bush administration, it is incumbent upon them to smarten up.

So at the next opportunity, what happened? Hillary Clinton insults the Russian with a poorly translated gag gift (again, dumb but forgivable) but puts the topper on it by accusing the Russians of being over-chargers.

The New York Times reports;
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in greeting Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, presented him with a red plastic button emblazoned with the English word “reset” and the Russian word “peregruzka.”

The gift was a play on Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s call in Munich last month for the two countries to “press the reset button” on their relationship.

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word,” Mrs. Clinton said, handing the button to Mr. Lavrov. “Do you think we got it?”

“You got it wrong,” he replied, explaining that the Americans had come up with the Russian word for overcharged.

“We won’t let you do that to us,” she said quickly, with a full-throated laugh.
Nice Hilary. But it gets better and this is the real story, because it's far worse than pronouncing nuclear incorrectly or misspelling potato;
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - 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.
Mispronouncing names and saying American democracy was older than Europe's? If this were Bush, imagine the recrimination. This is just a compounding of the administration's diplomatic incompetencies that the Europeans and Russians are likely willing to overlook short term. But people - get your act together because you look like buffoons in ways far more basic than foreign policy - you're showing ignorance and lack of preparation. Keep it up and they won't be as forgiving next time.

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