Hillary Clinton in Africa: Good TV, bad diplomacy

Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigning, 2007

Image via Wikipedia

Last night around midnight California time, the most popular story on CNN was Hillary Clinton’s diplomatic faux pas in Africa. You know, the press conference in Kinshasa where she glared at a questioner for apparently asking what Bill – not Hillary – would think about a matter. It was all unscripted and all so ugly. To watch Hillary is to see a woman angered at being slighted. Was it a case of “spousal penis envy,” to use the headline from a posting by True/Slant colleague Rick Ungar? Did it “give us insight into the mind of the Secretary of State,” as CNN wondered in its televised analysis of the episode?

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Perhaps. But it definitely gives us insight into what matters the most to CNN’s audience: The theater of politics, and the theater of Clinton herself. Around midnight California time, Clinton’s flare-up was outranking CNN’s story on the sentencing of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi (this was the network’s second-most popular story) – and Clinton’s trip to the war-torn part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (this was No. 10 on CNN), where she was going to meet with rape victims and others who’ve suffered in one of the world’s most volatile regions.

If Clinton could, she’d probably take back her reaction in Kinshasa, which overshadowed her bigger mission in Africa. The exchange (which was prompted by an interpreter’s error) shows that she is learning on the job. In a way, it also humanizes her – even as it takes away the focus from more important matters like Aung San Suu Kyi’s ongoing travails.

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3 Responses to Hillary Clinton in Africa: Good TV, bad diplomacy

  1. Mr. Curiel,

    A poorly thought-out and / or poorly translated question clearly hit a raw nerve resulting in a needlessly brusque response. I don’t think any of us need to imagine too hard to understand her response. Of course someone in Hilary’s position should have a thicker skin by now, particularly given the particular audience. The key point however is that drama is always going to get more press than news, it is just the way it is. This is why news shows come and go but soap operas last forever. There is no point in fretting about it, you might as well complain about gravity.

  2. lann says:

    Hillary Clinton is in a no-win situation and has been for just about as long as her position in public view has continued. Had she answered the question, as so poorly translated, we would hear how weak she is and dependent upon her husband to think that she would be well-versed in his views. Who is perfectly poised at all times under all circumstances? She is a real human being. Actually, why didn’t she say, I don’t know what he thinks about this but I can tell you what I think. But she was caught off guard with a set-up style question or interpretation whichever. This woman has taken more criticism in what should have been the warmest, most glowing period of life, with accomplishments beyond what many of us dream. But it seems written in stone – she will not receive respect or understanding – only ridicule and blame. She should resign over this and enjoy the rest of her life, instead of trying to give too much of herself to a mostly ungrateful nation.

  3. Pingback: Hillary’s ‘Lash Out’ | Xenia Institute

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