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?

Update: Tommy Christopher makes a point I neglected:

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.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 3 4 5

Who cares about the gaffe – did you see the grace and poise she displayed while presenting the gift?

I got a tingle up my leg.

/sarcasm

Mr Purple on March 7, 2009 at 4:48 AM

Dateline Brussels…
Classic, Clueless Clinton’s Conciliatory Crap Causes Concern.
Film at 11.

swede7 on March 7, 2009 at 5:47 AM

Robert Burns (AP) just glazed over Hillary’s debut with sprinkles on top.

maverick muse on March 7, 2009 at 6:27 AM

@ NRO from Michael Moynihan

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.”

Instapundit’s Heh.

Gasp*

maverick muse on March 7, 2009 at 6:59 AM

Why is it hard to believe that the button “mistake” was intentional – we all know how much Barack “respects” Hillary? The sooner she’s shown to be incompetent, the sooner he can replace her.

And why isn’t it plausible that the Gordon Brown snub was also intentional? Brown has shown himself to be, at least, listening to his pollers and the Brits are fuming over this – less support the next time we ask for cooperation from them?

Obama has given every indication that he doesn’t want to play ball on the old team – he’s building his new team.

gopmom on March 7, 2009 at 8:09 AM

I kinda feel sorry for the stooge. They better be on a Grayhound headed for the middle of nowhere with a fake ID, ’cause if SHE catches up to them, there won’t be anything left but some tufts of hair and a red stain.

El Cazador on March 7, 2009 at 3:23 AM

I think the mistranslator is looking at a one way ticket to Fort Marcy Park

bullseye on March 7, 2009 at 8:16 AM

Wow! getalife and athensboy; you are really idiots! If you two hate this site so much, why don’t you go to the Huffington Post or something? NO one will miss you!

Susanboo on March 7, 2009 at 1:49 AM

Our life holds few distinctions Mrs Bennet, but I believe we may safely boast that here sit two of the silliest girls in the country.

neuquenguy on March 7, 2009 at 8:33 AM

Obama and Shrillary are more like Abbot and Costello…

Disagree.

Abbot and Costello worked at being funny and were patriots who did their part to DEFEAT Americas enemies. O & S have never worked but do their part to DEFEAT America.

HEY! O, S; Oh Sh*t!

oldleprechaun on March 7, 2009 at 8:41 AM

What if Clinton used the wrong word on purpose? We just lost Manas AB but the Kyrgs have now said that that deal isn’t closed, the Russians don’t have it, and if you offer us more money and more respect ie more money than you can have it back. What if Hillary is sending a message to the Russians that we are going to make a higher offer on the base and “we won’t let you overcharge us?” ie up your bid?

journeyintothewhirlwind on March 7, 2009 at 1:57 AM

That’s more of a stretch than Princess Pelosi’s face.

carbon_footprint on March 7, 2009 at 8:45 AM

A RED BUTTON? With all of the concerns about nukes, is a RED BUTTON appropriate? If this isn’t a calculated message, it’s buffoonery.

marklmail on March 7, 2009 at 8:48 AM

Um, this thread is not about me, it is about our great Secretary of State.

She is having fun and doing great work.

Be happy.

getalife on March 6, 2009 at 11:00 PM

Yes. she is rather large.
Trotsky would be proud of you both.

diogenes on March 7, 2009 at 9:26 AM

marklmail, I think its buffoonery over “calculated”…I mean really, “calculated” would require some smarts, and this Obaministration has repeatedly shown they gots no smarts. Living in a circus town as I do (Sarasota), good buffoonery also reqires smarts, so this is just plain stupidity.

ornery_independent on March 7, 2009 at 9:39 AM

Is it a stretch? Coldwarrior, what scores do linguists at the State Department have to have to work there? Coming out of DLI the first time they wanted you to have a mix 3′s and 2′s and that was just to keep in your MOS and not be shipped off to cook’s school if I remember correctly.

journeyintothewhirlwind on March 7, 2009 at 9:44 AM

Dear Lord. The classless incompetence of Oslime-a, Biden, and Shillary is embarrassing.

csdeven on March 7, 2009 at 9:44 AM

I think they should all just say Ahoy, and other nautical expressions.

Cheshire Cat on March 7, 2009 at 2:41 AM

Heh. That’s still a little advanced for them. Fore, aft, port, starboard … these folks still wrestle getting their shoes on the correct feet.

progressoverpeace on March 7, 2009 at 2:55 AM

Yeah, I agree. I’m not even sure they can master Ahoy. Maybe these budding pirates should just stick to “AAAAARRRGH!” for now.

One continuous loop, every country on their trip… an “AAAAARRRGH!” at the lectern every once in a while would do more for our international relations than this other shtick.

RD on March 7, 2009 at 10:01 AM

Most childish, mentally handicapped administration evah!

Grafted on March 7, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Hey, who’s really surprised?

This is the first lady who lived in the White House for eight years and had no idea what was going on right under her nose.

“Bill’s been playing hanky-panky with an intern? Why didn’t someone tell me?”

She’s still stupid, and let me emphasize, unbelievable. Hard to fathom, knowing she’s the smartest woman in the world.

fogw on March 7, 2009 at 10:07 AM

Interesting to note with which finger Lavrov is pressing the button in the picture.

Freudian? I don’t think so…

barton on March 7, 2009 at 10:15 AM

The gaffe is nothing.

The incredible stupidity of the “gift” is breath-taking.

It just gets worse and worse.

We are led by adolescent idiots.

The Founding Fathers would be slack-jawed in amazement. They put their lives on the line for THIS?

USA RIP.

notagool on March 7, 2009 at 10:25 AM

I’m glad the Bedcrapper in Chief’s gang of wacky clown acts are enjoying themselves.

NoDonkey on March 7, 2009 at 10:46 AM

Chi-towns best and brightest.

kooziegirl on March 7, 2009 at 10:58 AM

The Founding Fathers would be slack-jawed in amazement. They put their lives on the line for THIS?

USA RIP.

notagool on March 7, 2009 at 10:25 AM

The FFs would indeed be in slack-jawed awe at the display by both Alinsky Butt Boy in Chief and Alinsky Hag at State.

kooziegirl on March 7, 2009 at 11:03 AM

She was making fun of the previous administration’s diplomacy with her “reset” button, a rather nasty piece of work.

1) I’m sure you said the same thing about Carter’s foreign policy.

2) She wasn’t making fun of the previous administration. Once again I realize that hypersensitive partisan hacks with little personal conviction like Ed just think different. Do you like MacBooks? Anyway… It’s a symbolic gesture with the most transparent meaning. There’s a new Administration in the White House. Let’s all start from scratch. Which it won’t be. But let’s pretend. Only a true moron would seriously suggest that Hillary would go anywhere with the message that nothing has changed from Bush’s era. But then maybe despite Rush’s clarification, there’re people who truly want Obama to fail at everything good.
3) It’s indeed strange that nobody in the State Department who was preparing this meeting speaks Russian fluently.

3)

radiofreevillage on March 7, 2009 at 11:22 AM

Update II: Closing Velocity notes that the Russians seem inordinately amused at Hillary’s expense.

Most every Russian news source has put the INTENDED word in the title. Although they obviously mention the gaffe in the body.

But hey, I can’t blame Ed. Suddenly finding yourself being a supported of the party of fat megalomaniacs and exorcists, you work with what you have.

radiofreevillage on March 7, 2009 at 11:37 AM

I cringed when I saw the RED BUTTON. With the Russians, you simply can’t joke about that, no matter the intent. That button is the symbol of the USSR’s fall from power. Even more cringe-worthy was her mashing her hand over his to “reset” it.

WRT to the origin of the “smart” idea for this prop, that it was entirely her idea is fully plausible. Why not? Surely there isn’t anyone that really believes her claim to experience in talking with foreign leaders. This is simply an Empress wearing no clothes.

She simply ass-u-med that this gag would be a two-fer, a)snub Bush, b) demonstrate her foreign smarts. She accomplished in making an ass of herself twice over with the mistranslation, while demonstrating to all Russians that she’s a novice at the grandmaster’s game.

Nah, she don’t have to worry about getting thrown under the bus when she can do it to herself. And you can be sure that Russian comedians will make hay out of “overcharge”.

AH_C on March 7, 2009 at 11:43 AM

I cringed when I saw the RED BUTTON. With the Russians, you simply can’t joke about that, no matter the intent.

Tell me about this. I’d like to hear. Yes, I’m a native born Russian.

And while you’re at it, you can go ahead and tell me everything about bears walking freely on Russian streets. I’m all ears.

radiofreevillage on March 7, 2009 at 11:46 AM

***
That EASY BUTTON gives this old radar and missile engineer a bad thought.
***
Adding some C4, a detonator, and a battery to the box would be a great way to get some REGIME CHANGE YOU COULD BELIEVE IN!
***
Maybe Hillary will drop it off on Putin’s desk a little later. SMART POWER indeed.
***
John Bibb
***

rocketman on March 7, 2009 at 12:26 PM

I suspect the suspicions are correct. Chump Hillary was set up.

Look at it this way. At least she didn’t hand out a 25 dvd collection of classic American movies and two toy helicopters. That would have been taken as the supreme insult

Instead, she made all Russians feel superior, not just for the way she had ‘Kick Me’ taped in her back, but for the childish, moronic nature of the button itself. There is a pride in the Russian culture towards the highbrow

Joking about the button. Clever that. Goes well with jokes about war memorials and famine roasts

She could have brought anything in the world as a gift and she brought the idiot button. The only thing missing was the clown suit and a honking clown horn. She showed a deep understanding of the Russian persona

Lucky for us Hillary never joined the military

entagor on March 7, 2009 at 12:33 PM

It’ll be okay. I hear that Putin loved the platform shoes and zoot suit that prez-uh-DENT Zero sent him. The crate of slightly used U. of Chicago Medical Center office supplies Michelle sent to Putin was also warmly received.

viking01 on March 7, 2009 at 12:40 PM

It should be forbidden to be a Secretary of State, or any ambassador of the U.S.A. without knowing at least one foreign language well.

Entelechy on March 7, 2009 at 1:55 PM

Entelechy on March 7, 2009 at 1:55 PM

Ebonics don’t count?

coldwarrior on March 7, 2009 at 1:59 PM

radiofreevillage on March 7, 2009 at 11:46 AM

Do tell. Tell me about the siliviki and Putin’s private government? Tell me about the thousands arrested weekely, or beaten by the militsia for daring to exercise simple freedom of assembly. Tell me about journalists being killed by Putin’s thugs for daring to challenge the Putin regime. Tell me about Tsar Vladimir I and his desire to rebuild an even greater Russian-dominated Empire across Europe and Asia than existed under the Soviets. Tell me about Putin making an agreement with Ukraine regarding gas and then deciding that the agreement wasn’t at all favorable to Russia, or not punitive enough toward Ukraine. Tell me about a larger percentage of what is left of the Russian economy being devoted to Putin’s thugs and an expanded military.

As for the bears…

How long does it take a Russian bear, walking at 5 miles per hour to walk from Moscow to St. Petersburg?

[In theory, about 25 days. In reality...never. The bear would be eaten before it got past the Moscow suburbs...one bear can feed a Russian family these days for a couple weeks.]

coldwarrior on March 7, 2009 at 2:08 PM

Ebonics don’t count?

coldwarrior on March 7, 2009 at 1:59 PM

Funny you should write that. I commented on same on the newer Hillary thread, on the right side.

I think America is ready for a multilingual president,” Clinton said during a campaign stop at a charter school in Greenville, S.C.

‘The smartest woman in the world’ is really not that smart at all, and not at all sophisticated.

You, coldwarriour, on the other hand, are a truly great one!

Entelechy on March 7, 2009 at 2:42 PM

A SECSTATE who comes bearing gag gifts demeans the office. Not that upholding public office is something either of the Clinton grifters have ever cared about.

P.S. That nasty little socials Barney Frank wants his “overcharge” button back before the next time he talks about bailing out the stupid greedy vermin who are about to lose their homes.

highhopes on March 7, 2009 at 2:44 PM

Sorry, didn’t mean to bungle your nom de internet, coldwarrior.

Entelechy on March 7, 2009 at 2:44 PM

Hillary Clinton, like so many other times in your life, you are clearly in over your head.

How did this half-wit get the State Dept. job over people so clearly more qualified, like Anthony Lake or Strobe Talbott or Tom Pickering?

Eleven years on, and this country still pays the price for Bill Clinton’s dalliance with Monica Lewinsky.

JohnGalt23 on March 7, 2009 at 2:54 PM

Entelechy on March 7, 2009 at 2:44 PM

Must be that Oxbridge influence, what?

Does have a certain gravitas about it, though.

coldwarrior on March 7, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Does have a certain gravitas about it, though.

coldwarrior on March 7, 2009 at 2:59 PM

As usual, you’re absolutely right. Had 4 years of British English, before going all American. No British accent, though, just a somewhat Sweedish one, due to other languages’ influence, ahead of learning English.

Entelechy on March 7, 2009 at 3:14 PM

radiofreevillage on March 7, 2009 at 11:46 AM

I should have been clearer in that such a gag joke coming from a “diplomat” is tasteless regardless of intent. Moreso given the fact that the “Button” was just one push away from MAD.

But then again, WRT Alinsky, perhaps that was cHillary’s inept way of saying “Comrade, now our button is belong you“.

As for the Rooski Bear, I’ll walk with coldwarrior on March 7, 2009 at 2:08 PM

Oh by the way…

3) It’s indeed strange that nobody in the State Department who was preparing this meeting speaks Russian fluently.

radiofreevillage on March 7, 2009 at 11:22 AM

Yeah, maybe the One should have sent Condi instead.

AH_C on March 7, 2009 at 3:14 PM

Great start on your “diplomacy” you dumb broad! They think you’re a doofus, as do I.

hopefloats on March 7, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Just an after-thought about these socialist types…they’ve spent their entire life learning about Lenin and Stalin and Marx, reading Saul Alinsky and studying at the knees of “Frank”, and yet they’ve NEVER learned about having “class”. They are rude, uneducated about how to carry on polite conversation, and how to deport themselves in social circles.
Thank God “Pillary” wears pants, I’d hate for her to show her hairy legs to the world while she tries to speak for us.

hopefloats on March 7, 2009 at 3:24 PM

hopefloats on March 7, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Yep, all that time wasted learning about class struggle, forgetting what class and classiness is all about.

What they do not understand is that exercising class, real class, the same as good manners, is a sign of respect to those you address.

And respect…that is what diplomacy, real diplomacy, is all about.

Still chaffing, years later, about how the Clinton’s left the King and Queen of Norway standing outside the White House for over 20 minutes…an official state visit, and then blaming it on the White House Social Secretary, as if that would expunge the faux pas. {I was part of the planning for that particular visit. The Norwegians were not impressed. The Royal pair were gracious, but obviously a bit miffed.)

coldwarrior on March 7, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Makes you wonder how Hillary would have done as President…

albill on March 7, 2009 at 3:50 PM

It’s hard to imagine it any worse than The One. She has a little more public office experience than Obama. They are both equally unrefined. He might be a better puppet. She might be better at covert manipulation. They are both more ideologically hard-left driven that other democrat leaders.
I don’t know if she could ram the socialist agenda down america’s throat as quickly as Obama is doing it.

neuquenguy on March 7, 2009 at 4:15 PM

I think she’s just having fun at Barry’s expense. That is, unless the thing is wired to ICBMs…..

Vashta.Nerada on March 7, 2009 at 4:41 PM

This gaffe is worse than you think. The button used is NOT A RESET BUTTON but an e-stop button. When you press an e-stop button it CAUSES A HARD SHUTDOWN to the machinery – it is used in emergencies, like if a body part were to get caught in the machinery. You can tell it is an e-stop by the arrows on the top of button. Of course liberals wouldn’t know anything about that, would they? But when thinking about Sec of State and O’s policies(including his economic policies,) an e-stop may make more sense!

Done That on March 7, 2009 at 5:48 PM

Coldwarrior,

I think you forgot to take your medication. I asked a very specific question. Please calla nurse and have her read and explain it to you.

AH_C,

Condi doesn’t speak Russian. She supposedly has background in Russian (Soviet) affairs, but she was asked repeatedly by Russian press to say anything in Russian. She always refused.

radiofreevillage on March 7, 2009 at 9:21 PM

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.

I just had the chance to read this, (my Mother-in-Law is in town) and that is honestly the very first thing that came to my mind! WTF! A RED BUTTON! Are you kidding me???!

4shoes on March 7, 2009 at 10:38 PM

I just had the chance to read this, (my Mother-in-Law is in town) and that is honestly the very first thing that came to my mind! WTF! A RED BUTTON! Are you kidding me???!

I know. I mean, look at the frigging picture in this thread. The guy is mad as hell.

radiofreevillage on March 7, 2009 at 10:53 PM

Not a gaffe; She simply gave them the wrong gift. Clearly the “over charge” button gift was meant for the American taxpayers. Hillary just forgot to grab the Rocky IV special edition DVD for the Russians.

default013 on March 8, 2009 at 4:05 AM

Tell me about this. I’d like to hear. Yes, I’m a native born Russian.
radiofreevillage on March 7, 2009 at 11:46 AM

I’m sure you mean “native born Soviet”. What a surprise.

Condi doesn’t speak Russian. She supposedly has background in Russian (Soviet) affairs, but she was asked repeatedly by Russian press to say anything in Russian. She always refused.

radiofreevillage on March 7, 2009 at 9:21 PM

Hint: they just make shit up on DKos, dude. Condi DOES speak Russian.

And since you’re a “native Russian”, translate this: съешьте дерьмо и умрите сволочь.

Squiggy on March 8, 2009 at 6:34 AM

Interesting to note with which finger Lavrov is pressing the button in the picture.

Freudian? I don’t think so…

barton on March 7, 2009 at 10:15 AM

I noticed that too. And after such an idiotic “gift,” I wouldn’t blame him for whipping the bird.

Candy Slice on March 9, 2009 at 8:48 AM

Comment pages: 1 3 4 5