If You Run with Dogs, You Get Fleas
Connection to Mugabe Threatens South African President's Legacy
By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, July 15, 2008; A13
JOHANNESBURG -- At first glance they are nothing alike. Zimbabwe's aging president, Robert Mugabe, is, at 84, among the last of a generation of African Big Men, clinging to power through brutal repression. South Africa's suave President Thabo Mbeki, nearly two decades younger, rules by popular mandate as the elected leader of one of the continent's most robust democracies.
But Mbeki's long -- and so far, failed -- diplomatic bid to ease Mugabe into retirement after 28 years has tied the legacies of the two men together, and badly damaged Mbeki's reputation as the exemplar of a new kind of African president. The leader President Bush described as "the point man" on solving the Zimbabwe crisis in 2003 now is widely regarded as an obstacle to freeing that nation from its steep descent into political and economic ruin.
"I think he's part of the problem at …