Lost in mistranslation
Further to this, it appears that, while participating in that Q&A with Congolese students, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not replying to a mistranslated question, she was indeed asked what her husband, former President Bill Clinton, thought.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was onstage in Kinshasa, Congo’s shabby capital, in an auditorium packed with Congolese students.
And then came the question, from a young man in a suit.
“Mrs. Clinton, we’ve all heard about the Chinese contracts in this country,” he said. “The interference is from the World Bank against this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton?”
Mrs. Clinton’s answer on Monday has quickly become the No. 1 sound bite from her trip. Her whole seven-nation Africa tour, which has had quite serious intentions, like combating Congo’s appalling rape epidemic and raising her personal profile within President Obama’s administration, may end up being reduced to this:
“Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the secretary of state, I am. So you ask my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband.”
After the forum, her aides told the traveling press corps that there might have been a mistranslation, and that the student actually wanted to know the opinion of her boss, not her husband. But that interpretation did not dispel the controversy either, since it gave new life to the nagging question of whether Mrs. Clinton felt marginalized in the Obama administration.
Later, her aides released the transcript of the question, as it had been translated to English from French, and further inspection of the audio recording of the event indicated that the translation was fine; the student had indeed said “Mr. Clinton.”
You know, because Congo is so great on recognizing women's rights.
Given that it now appears that the question was translated correctly — and that the male student wanted to know not just what Bill Clinton thought of Chinese relations with Congo but also what the former N.B.A. star Dikembe Mutumbo, who was present at the event, thought, too, but expressed no interest in the perspective of America’s female secretary of state — is it possible that Mrs. Clinton has gotten a raw deal from commentators in the United States for her angry reply?
More to the point, while most of the derisive commentary on Mrs. Clinton’s flash of temper contextualized it by noting that her husband had just been lauded for his trip to North Korea, few noted that she was in the middle of a trip to Congo, where the plight of women, many of whom suffered violent sexual abuse during recent fighting, is a major issue.
I'm shocked. Shocked I tell ya.