Two gift-gaffe days in a row for Obama administration
posted at 5:40 pm on March 6, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Yesterday, we talked about the incredibly thoughtless snub from the Obamas to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the traditional gift exchange in Brown’s first visit to the Obama White House. Today, Hillary makes it a gaffetastic week by proving to the Russians that the State Department can’t translate worth a damn:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened her first extended talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by giving him a present meant to symbolize the Obama administration’s vow to “press the reset button” on U.S.-Russia relations.
She handed a palm-sized box wrapped with a bow. Lavrov opened it and pulled out the gift: a red 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 asked.
“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said.
Instead of “reset,” Lavrov said the word on the box meant “overcharge.”
Clinton and Lavrov laughed.
Yeah, I’m sure Lavrov laughed. Later, he probably told his deputy, “Tell the crypto guys they can take it easy.”
Some will say, Come on, it’s just a light moment, but let’s think about what Hillary was doing here. She was making fun of the previous administration’s diplomacy with her “reset” button, a rather nasty piece of work. I’ll bet the Bush administration and Condi Rice would have gotten the translation correct before making that joke — and I’d bet even more money they wouldn’t have thought to make fun of Hillary’s husband in that fashion in the first place.
Can we get a reset button?
Anyone who remembers a time from the Reagan era on back would know that the last thing you want to give Russia is “the button,” no matter what’s written on it. Why not just give Vietnam a “tripwire of friendship?”
Update II: Closing Velocity notes that the Russians seem inordinately amused at Hillary’s expense. And the Czechs and the Poles aren’t exactly cheering at this development either.