No Apologies From Mandela

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CAPE TOWN: You gotta problem with Nelson Mandela hanging out with Fidel Castro and Muammar Ghaddafi? Go throw yourself in a pool. That was the South African president’s message today at a joint press conference with President Clinton.

Clinton may have spent most of the week uttering mea culpas up and down Africa, but Mandela was anything but apologetic: “We should not abandon those who helped us in the darkest hour of the history of this country,” he said, referring to alliances criticized by Washington. If the U.S. aspired to world leadership, it should set an example by making peace with its enemies, Mandela added. The tone of today’s events -- which included a visit to Robben Island, the prison where Mandela served much of his 27-year sentence -- was mostly positive, with the two leaders showering praise on each other.

At a state dinner tonight, Mandela will present Clinton with South Africa’s highest honor, the Order of Good Hope. Of course the joke may be on Clinton, since Mandela awarded the same medal to that man Ghaddafi.