Translating Hillary Clinton's Outburst in Africa

A bad translation and a bad reaction in a bad country (for women).

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

I'm of two minds on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's minor outburst while on her current trip through Africa. She got visibly ticked when asked a question which she thought was about what her husband thought on an international issue:

A male student rose to ask a question about Chinese financial contracts with Congo. The student asked Clinton what President Obama would think of the deal, but pool reporters in the room said the translator made a mistake, posing the question as what would Bill Clinton think.

Clinton looked surprised when she first heard the translation in the headset, and then sharply replied, "You want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the secretary of state, I am. You ask my opinion. I will tell you my opinion; I'm not going to channel my husband."

Should she have allowed her anger to show? Of course not. That's the antithesis of "diplomacy." On the other hand, consider what's going on in the country where that question was asked: the worst brutality against women I've ever heard of, and probably the worst that's ever gone one in any country in any era of history. I've blogged before about the horrible gang rape, genital mutilation, and all manner of unbelievable war crimes former Congolese rebels are committing against the country's women. I won't repeat the diatribe here, but suffice it to say even in a world full of unbelievably terrible, sordid goings-on, the abuse of Congolese women tops the list.

Therefore, since a man asked her a question that seemed to be about what her husband thought about something, perhaps Secretary Clinton can be forgiven. Alternatively, her handlers on these trips ought to allow her to get a bit more shuteye.