Remember in 2009 when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a poorly translated “reset” button?
As it turns out, the red and yellow prop was apparently swiped from a Jacuzzi or swimming pool in Geneva, journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes write in their new book, “HRC.”
The two authors set the stage:
[Hillary Clinton’s senior adviser] Philippe Reines, a lover of both gimmickry and iconic imagery, had come up with a plan to show the world a symbol of the “reset” mantra. Hillary would give [Russian foreign minister Sergei] Lavrov a gift-wrapped button emblazoned with the English and Russian words for “reset.” It seemed like a clever way to draw attention to the message, one sure to be bounced across the globe on television and in newspaper pictures. But Reines had sidestepped traditional protocol by not asking State’s team of translators to help with the project from the start. He later said he was unaware such resources were available to him.
One of the State Department’s top officials didn’t know his agency offered translators?
Allen and Parnes continue [emphasis added]:
[Reines] had asked NSC Russia director Mike McFaul for the word and both McFaul and State Russia expert Bill Burns signed off on the spelling…
Lavrov pointed out that peregruzka – printed not in Cyrillic but in Latin script – means “overcharge.” …
Reines tried to correct the error, asking Russia’s ambassador to Switzerland to give the gift back temporarily so that a new label – with the right word – could be printed and affixed to it.
“This is a gift from the United States. I don’t think I can give it back to you,” the ambassador replied with a smile. “If I did, my minister would be very upset.”
“If your minister doesn’t give that back, my minister,” Reines said, referring to Hillary, “is going to send me to Siberia.”
Reines pleaded his case in good humor, even suggesting they bring a label-maker into the room so that the Russian ambassador didn’t have to let the gift – an emergency stop button that had been hastily pilfered from a swimming pool or Jacuzzi at the hotel – out of his sight. Nyet, the ambassador said.
“We’re in the very best of hands,” National Review’s Jim Geraghty joked.
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