What started out as a festive, laugh-a-minute journey through Africa, replete with dancing and quirky questions about marriage proposals, is increasingly turning into a Heart of Darkness–like nightmare. Well, all right, it's not quite that bad. But Hillary hasn't been her usual preternaturally steady and collected self lately. When she's not scolding students because of unfortunately mistranslated questions, she's making dubious statements that seemingly undermine the legitimacy of former American presidents. While discussing the importance of free elections at a town hall in Nigeria yesterday, Hillary said this:
"Our democracy is still evolving. We had all kinds of problems in some of our past elections, as you might remember. In 2000, our presidential election came down to one state where the brother of the man running for president was the governor of the state. So we have our problems too."
Well then. Is the implication here that tampering from Jeb somehow led to victory for brother George? That's certainly what it seems to be on its face. Luckily, the State Department was more than willing to clarify this puzzling statement. "Not only is that NOT an indictment of anyone," an anonymous official told ABC's Jake Tapper, "it's actually touting all the participants and the system and the peaceful transfer of power. The reference to 2000 in particular was from the Nigerian perspective of anyone who looked at the relationship and thought anything of it."
If that was Hillary's message, it still doesn't explain why she referred to the relationship between Jeb and George as a "problem" of our evolving democracy, not, say, a potential conflict of interest that we were able to overcome because of the strength of our democracy. We imagine a rested and refreshed Hillary would have phrased her point much better, but Hillary has opened herself up to criticism for what she did say. There's only one more day left in Hillary's African journey before she returns home, and it probably can't come soon enough.
Out of Africa [Political Punch/ABC News]