Translation slip leaves Hillary fuming11/08/2009 - 15:10:44
An apparent translator’s slip left US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fuming after she thought she was being sidelined in favour of her husband.
During a visit to the Congo, a student attempted to ask the visiting politician about President Barack Obama’s views on a multi-billion-dollar Chinese loan to the central African country.
Unfortunately, this got changed into a question about her husband, former president Bill Clinton’s, opinion on the matter. It resulted in a sharp response from a clearly rattled Mrs Clinton.
It is uncertain whether the French-speaking student or the translator was to blame for the confusion.
Either way it led to a clumsy rewording of the original question.
“What does Mr Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs Clinton?” the secretary of state was asked in relation to the loan.
Mrs Clinton glanced at the mediator at the Q&A session with an apparent look of disbelief before blasting the student.
“Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks?” she asked, adding: “My husband is not secretary of state, I am.”
Gesturing toward the questioner, Mrs Clinton said: “If you ask my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channelling my husband.”
The actual query went unanswered as organisers moved on to the next question.
It was only after the verbal confrontation that the misunderstanding was realised. To show there was no hard feelings Mrs Clinton shook hands with the student after the press conference.
The US secretary of state may have reason to be sensitive over being sidelined. In Washington there has been speculation that she is unhappy at her diminished role as Mr Obama tackles world issues personally.
Her husband’s high-profile visit to North Korea last week to secure the release of two American journalists also underlines the presence he still holds globally.
Mrs Clinton’s state visit to Africa has seen her peppered with questions about Mr Clinton’s secretive mission to Pyongyang.
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