March 6, 2009

Throwing caution to the wind while at the same time going out on a limb

Secretary Clinton's spring break in Europe, covered in today's New York Times, is probably of major importance.

But I'd like to ignore the news value because a few parts of the article just, um...

1) I realize this is probably on the Times editor, not on Hillary, but that headline calling the entire continent of Europe an "essential partner" in fighting climate change, terrorism and the collapsing economy? That doesn't seem like a very bold statement, does it? I mean, aren't there are only a few other continents to choose from - I don't think North America is in the running, since that's, well, that's us. And she probably ruled out Antarctica early in the process.

2) I've never spoken to a large group of people from other countries who all speak other languages. But if I ever did, I don't think I'd be sure they didn't have to read between the lines too much.

Case in point: Clinton told the European diplomats that the U.S. “democracy has been around far longer than European democracy.” The article reports that the comment drew "raised eyebrows and scattered murmurs," which I think are like the diplomatic equivalent of engaging in a bloody street brawl.

Of course, if someone like, I don't know, this guy, had made that comment, we'd all be laughing our asses off at how dumb he is, what with the Red, White and Blue only having been around for a couple of centuries. Apparently, though, the Times thought that, rather than being historically inaccurate, Hillary was simply misunderstood: "[Her] intention, it appeared, was to compare the United States to Europe’s experiment in trans-national democracy, the European Union."

Memo to foreign leaders: Learn how to read our minds, so if it occasionally sounds like we're insulting you during the next four years, you'll know where we're coming from.

3) If you're concerned that Mrs. C. can be hard to understand, put those worries aside. Because, apparently, she can serve up the cliches like nobody's business. And everybody loves cliches, especially when they're strung together, four at a time. The Times story includes this quote from an interview the Secretary gave to NPR interview about her trip: "We’re testing the waters; we’re determining what is possible; we’re turning the pages; we’re resetting buttons.”

I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds like it might be a fire hazard.


JBhumitra said...

i love the cliches! it reminds me of this:



we used many of these words when i was working in public affairs. also, we liked "soup to nuts" and "too many cooks in the kitchen." there are so many more. this is how people in DC really talk.

bugs said...

i like how she handed the russian president (?) a button to reset, too. that's all class.
whatever. she's doing a good job, i think. mending a lot of broken relationships from the idiot you mentioned on your blog.

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