March 6, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened her first extended talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by giving him a present meant to symbolize the Obama administration’s vow to “press the reset button” on U.S.-Russia relations.
She handed a palm-sized box wrapped with a bow. Lavrov opened it and pulled out the gift: a red button on a black base with a Russian word peregruzka printed on top.
“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton asked.
“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said.
Instead of “reset,” Lavrov said the word on the box meant “overcharge.”
The country’s in the very best of hands.
UPDATE: Heh: “Even beyond the mistranslation and the annoying cutesiness of the gesture, whose brilliant idea was it to give Russians a button to push? I thought that was what we’ve been working for decades to prevent.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm: “My friends and I have been talking about this all day. The only conclusion we could come up with is Hillary was set up by Obama supporters at State. Nothing else makes sense. Huh. Maybe the last guy wasn’t so dumb after all, picking a gal that spoke fluent Russian.”