April 26, 2001
9:22 AM   Subscribe

Oops! "Weren’t you supposed to watch him?" "Me? I thought you were watching him."

This is what happens when they let the Shrub pretend he is actually in charge.
posted by mapalm (46 comments total)
I was wondering why this hadn't shown up here yet. It's basically a case of

1. open mouth
2. insert foot
3. fuck things up with China even more than you already have

There's a great little teaser (no story to go with it) on The Onion today. It reads: "First Chapter In History Of Sino-American War Of 2011 Already Written"
posted by jpoulos at 9:39 AM on April 26, 2001

I was astonished this morning on FOX News, where Brit Hume gave him the merest softball of a question, about whether he prayed while at work, and he punted.

If you watch the video of the interview where he answered the China question, there's a lovely half-second where the wide-angle camera catches Bush's knee nervously jerking before they cut in to close-up and he answers. Either Georgie needs to go to the bathroom, or he didn't prepare for the test.
posted by dhartung at 10:16 AM on April 26, 2001

aaron is going to go into spasms over the three of you.
posted by lia at 10:38 AM on April 26, 2001

snifff....sniff....yep, this smells trollish to me....funny, but trollish....

I'm surprised aaron, et.al. haven't already pounced on you guys.

Speaking of softballs, Matt Lauer's interview with Dubya on Today was nothing but slow-pitch.
posted by briank at 10:40 AM on April 26, 2001

dang....lia beats me to the punch....
posted by briank at 10:41 AM on April 26, 2001

bullshit, trollish. the chickens are coming home to roost. every day we trash relations with (arguably, aside from the US) the most important country in the world. today it's because the President doesn't understand the absolute basics of US Foreign Policy, or even of basic diplomacy.

sure, it's fun to mock bush, and we do quite a bit of that here. but i'm genuinely scared for the future of our relations with China--and with whoever else bush decides to talk about next.
posted by jpoulos at 10:46 AM on April 26, 2001

Then don't pose the subject in a way that is guaranteed to set off the flamethrowers from the rightwingers.
posted by briank at 10:51 AM on April 26, 2001

Perhaps it was tactless, and yes, Bush should be more careful with China...but I don't see a problem with championing Taiwan's independence.

I just can't fault Bush for this one.
posted by frykitty at 11:00 AM on April 26, 2001

It's not the championing Taiwan part I have a problem with. It's the tactless, careless part that I fault him for.
posted by jpoulos at 11:06 AM on April 26, 2001

My problem is with Dan's mixed metaphor; how the hell do you punt a softball?
posted by Avogadro at 11:09 AM on April 26, 2001

What you characterise as tactless and careless some could easily characterise as bold and determined. We all pick our positions.

Now, it seems to me that if the cause for trouble is the form and method of delivery, that's just more anti-Bush sentiment bubbling to the surface and it's par for the course. If it's the policy, we've got something to discuss.
posted by Dreama at 11:11 AM on April 26, 2001

I'm genuinely scared for the future of US-China relations because both nations are overflowing with national pride and nuclear weapons, and both would if push came to shove probably rather bomb each other than lose face.
posted by lia at 11:14 AM on April 26, 2001

Dreama, please, "bold and determined" has got to be stretching things by Reed Richards proportions.
posted by lia at 11:24 AM on April 26, 2001

if the cause for trouble is the form and method of delivery, that's just more anti-Bush sentiment bubbling to the surface

This seems like a non-sequitur to me. "Form and method" of delivery is an important part of diplomacy. You can love what Bush says and still think that the way it's being said is counter-productive. As with the ANWR flipflops, the message that's being sent is one of division, disarray and indecision. Right or wrong, this isn't what you want the world to see (unless it's all a too-clever-by-half subterfuge and you're going to try to shoot the moon).
posted by rodii at 11:27 AM on April 26, 2001

Actually, this seems to be a smart move to me. I've heard that a misstatement by a U.S. diplomat may have led Saddam to think the U.S. would stand by and let Kuwait be taken.

Given Bush's remarks, you can bet the Chinese won't have any doubts now as to how GW feels on the issue. By removing any doubt, he sets the rules, which will prevent China from mistaking U.S. intent as to the defense of Taiwan.
posted by CRS at 11:36 AM on April 26, 2001

Where've you been, Dreama? I missed you (sincerely). If Bush meant to suggest that we would send troops to defend Taiwan, why are all his people backtracking like mad? If he didn't mean to say it, why are his frequent miscues and failures to say what he means somehow out of bounds?

It all reminds me of the debates, when Gore asked a very pointed question about (I think) the state of public services for children in Texas, and Bush's response was "If you mean to suggest that I'm a bad person, you're wrong." Sure, I think he's a bad person, but that's not my point. My point is he's doing great damage on the foreign relations front (and not just with China). If you consider that some sort of personal attack, then I don't know how we can discuss anything at all.
posted by jpoulos at 11:39 AM on April 26, 2001

It should be noted that Bush did backtrack from his statements shortly after he made them - his handlers were there to make sure of it.

To be honest though, I don't think it's really all that big of a deal. The media is jumping on it, and the diplomats are all getting on their soap boxes, but it'll all blow over in a couple weeks. Guananteed.

All the recent "conflict" with China is really rather benign. As was pointed out with this spy plane deal, none of it even comes close to our bombing of their embassy a while back. Though no fan of Dubya, I don't recall much Clinton bashing when that went down.

What's really happening is that Bush is attempting to create an "evil empire" toward which he can rattle his sabre (SDI part II, arms sales to Taiwan, increased defense spending, etc.). The guy is looking more and more like Reagan with each passing day, and that's exactly what the white house spin people want.
posted by aladfar at 12:09 PM on April 26, 2001

but I don't see a problem with championing Taiwan's independence.

he's not championing Taiwan's independence. look into my eyes and say it with me: "there's only one China"
posted by tolkhan at 12:13 PM on April 26, 2001

Like an article I read a few days ago said (that I can't for the life of me remember the url of or how I got there, but I'm sure someone else will), not only are 80s fashions coming back, but apparently, so are 80s U.S. politics.

Legwarmers are atrocious, but the thought of Reagun redux is unsettling.
posted by lia at 12:19 PM on April 26, 2001

Dreama, please, "bold and determined" has got to be stretching things by Reed Richards proportions.

Man, no kidding. Any or all of the Bush men (with the exception of Poppy, back when he was fighting in the Pacific) are about the last guys you'd describe as "bold and determined".

That phrase, when applied to presidents, always puts me in mind of this guy. And yes, I'm well aware that he was a scion of wealth, just like W -- just not so much the coke-addled, beer-drunk yahoo.
posted by dcehr at 12:24 PM on April 26, 2001

Though no fan of Dubya, I don't recall much Clinton bashing when [the bombing of the Chinese Embassy] went down.

No one bashed Bush when the Greenville killed those Japanese kids. There's no analogy there, unless you think that we bombed the embassy on purpose....

I do agree that they're trying to bring Ronnie back. Maybe he could dumb Laura and shack up with Nancy. I hear she's about to be single again. [Now that's trolling... :-) ]
posted by jpoulos at 12:33 PM on April 26, 2001

oops, i meant dump Laura, of course.
posted by jpoulos at 12:44 PM on April 26, 2001

Wait. I thought we already had a treaty with Taiwan. What, specifically, is everyone objecting to?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:51 PM on April 26, 2001

everyone already knows gwb knows nothing about anything, why is it still worth the point and giggle? aer you people bullies?

i mean, if you didn't go out and wrecked havoc over his election victory, you've pretty much accepted the failure of american democracy and a politically clueless president.

not everyone can be president becuase the job requires an amount of awareness. so we are accepting bush why?

becuase he'll start ww-iii, every nuclear nation will be sufficiently weakened such that we would have a time window in which to uproot the two party system and start something else. yea, thanks georgie. but what about the aliens?
posted by elle at 1:09 PM on April 26, 2001

Paris, there's been an American policy of some standing to avoid saying that we're willing to use military intervention to protect Taiwan from invasion. (The simplest explanation for that is that currently the U.S. doesn't officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country; that's the "one China" policy mention in the article linked.) People are upset that, apparently, Bush made an off-the-cuff statement without considering that it would be taken as a major policy shift. Since China has made it clear that they'll invade Taiwan should Taiwan formally declare independence, there are some clear geopolitical ramifications here.
posted by snarkout at 1:10 PM on April 26, 2001

Bush's poll numbers are very good, especially for his handling of foreign policy. Our allies and most political scientists are turning pale, but who gives a damn about them?

And poll numbers are ALL he cares about. He is one savvy campaigner, who knocked off Ann Richards and Al Gore, both of whom were regarded as very smart, hard-to-beat politiicians before they ran in to Bush. But he doesn't give a little rat's ass about policy, foreign or otherwise.

Plus, he's lazy, which is why is this sort of thing happens. Reagan, pro that he was, memorized his lines carefully before walking out on stage.

Karl Rove, who's got the balls of a brass monkey, claims that everything his boss does is part of some wise scheme. If he'd been working for the old man, he would have looked straight at the camera and said that vomiting on the Japanese officials was all part of the plan.

But my cocker spaniel could tell you this was a serious blunder, if only we could bark.
posted by steve_high at 1:33 PM on April 26, 2001

aaron is going to go into spasms over the three of you.

Unfortunately, I was off doing other things and didn't see this in time. But in any case, I'm laughing more than spasming at most of their comments. I'm not sure which is funnier, though: The blatant attempt at misportraying an article about a typical opposition-created nonevent as meaningful news, or the implicit belief of the Bush-haters that it's only the US that can possibly destabilize things, whereas China is a peaceful, rational government with no nefarious intentions of any sort, that would toodle along happily and quietly for the next hundred years if only those mean old White House denizens would stop causing trouble. Please.

Besides, as is noted, the originating posts are major league trolls. (Hint: Referring to the president as "Shrub" ,is a dead giveaway as to your true intentions of encouraging mob spewage rathing than discussion.)

PS - I always thought legwarmers were cute.
posted by aaron at 2:17 PM on April 26, 2001

The only legal nickname for the man is "Dubya"-D-40.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:20 PM on April 26, 2001

Any comparisons with the '80s seem, to me, a smidgen overdone, cept for the Bush wants to be retro part. There really was a real fear for a time in the '80s that something incredibly awful would occur. China has more people than any nation in the world, but as dangerous as the Soviet Union during the Cold War? I don't think so, unless you count the late '40s part of the Cold War. Do Americans see China in the same way? No, which is not to say they adore China, but it's not the same all-encompassing 24-7 bad vibe by any means. It's more wildly confused.

As for China's military might, I keep thinking, "Republican Guard is fearsome. Omigod wait until they face the Republican Guard. We must have your support, must declare war Congress, since they're horrific."

I imagine you'll hear more on this angle soon, since Sen. Majority Leader or Nonmajority Co-Leader or Something Trent Lott's is using the Taiwan thing as a chance to make some cash for the shipyards in his hometown of Pascagoula, Miss.

Meantime, as the US sells outdated ships to Taiwan and Colin Powell raves about home China has helped bring us cheap products at Home Depot (take that, Lowe's and Restoration Hardware), and Pat Robertson endorses forced abortions in China and Bush bungles his language again . . . China is managing to screw up pretty well on its on.
posted by raysmj at 2:27 PM on April 26, 2001

Hey anything that we do to piss off PRC is cool in my book. I'm glad that Bush is clarifying his position on China. I'm a strong advocate of Taiwan independence and this is as good of a time as any to do it. Remember, Taiwan is one of the largest trade partner with China. Would China risk economic ruin by trying to forcefully take Taiwan? They would risk losing the past 20 years of economic progress by doing that.
posted by gyc at 2:30 PM on April 26, 2001

um, last paragraph, that was "how"China has helped. . . Exactly words, according to the AP:

Listing such American stores as Home Depot, Office Depot and Kmart, Powell said there are ``a lot of places where U.S. consumers get pretty good deals'' because of Chinese imports. At the same time, he said, ``The more economic activity we give to the Chinese people, the less likely they are to want to put that new wealth at risk.''

``We're not looking for enemies,'' Powell said. ``We don't need enemies. We want to be friends with anyone who wants to be friends with us.''
posted by raysmj at 2:34 PM on April 26, 2001

After President Bush made the remarks about defending Taiwan militarily, the White House had to warn the Pentagon about the interview so they could deal with the "bombshell," according to a UPI report.

If this is a non-event, why was the White House in damage-control mode after Bush said it, and why have Bush and others in his administration been back-pedaling furiously ever since? His statement ran roughshod over many years of careful diplomatic parsing on the volatile subject of Taiwan's relationship to China, and I have to say I'm not comforted to have a subliterate bumbler leading our country when this subject comes up for discussion.
posted by rcade at 2:36 PM on April 26, 2001

It seems like Karl Rove and Colin Powell, both fairly smart cookies, are going to be spending a disappointingly (and disproportionately) large amount of time in the next three and three-quarter years starting public statements with "What the President meant to say was..."

And Clinton never stopped being bashed, during his entire tenure. The only reason he wasn't attacked so much over the Chinese Embassy bombing was because he was being attacked for too many other things that particular week.

Being lambasted is part of being President now. We just happen to have had a few Prezzes in a row who have been easy, slow-moving targets.

The Chinese government are no better, but why is Bush going out of his way to piss them off? Shouldn't we be making even a feeble attempt to get along?
posted by chicobangs at 3:08 PM on April 26, 2001

Would China risk economic ruin by trying to forcefully take Taiwan? They would risk losing the past 20 years of economic progress by doing that.

There seems to be a general feeling here that resistance to Chinese aggression would quickly crumble as it gradually affected the Taiwanese economy. Making money is foremost on peoples minds - not independence (though at the same time no one wants to rejoin the mainland without some kind of democratic representation) .
posted by cmacleod at 3:42 PM on April 26, 2001

i don't think anyone other than partisan democrats are going to make like they believe china's gov't are peace loving. is it any of the US's business, really, that china wants to unify? does the US really care?

taiwan is a dumping ground for obselete technology, all this taiwan talk is for the purpose of maintaining the continuation of this win-win thing. if the administration loses sight of the purpose, they are stupid.

bush's administration has acted as though it lost sight of this, contrasting clinton's administration, which always avoided stating anything solid.
posted by elle at 3:42 PM on April 26, 2001

The president (I agree with Aaron, constantly making up nicknames for people is very disrespectful, childish and indicative of intellectual shallowness) blundered by giving Taiwanese hardliners too much to work with.

But I can't quite agree that wrecking a carefully-constructed bipartisan 21-year-old foreign policy is a "non-event." This morning, an important meeting between two ancient Chinese antagonists just got torpedoed. This is not good news for free trade, for China, for Taiwan, for the U.S. or for anybody and it was caused by George Bush's mouth.

David Gergen and Winston Lord, both of whom have the unusual distinction of having served in both the Reagan and Clinton adminstrations, agree that this was almost certainly blunder, not a calculated warning.

Gergen makes the excellent point that Bush would not have deliberately stepped on his "first 100 days" story--which is why he was on Good Morning America--if he had known what he was doing.
posted by steve_high at 5:33 AM on April 27, 2001

Bubba, Slick Willy, Al Bore... Eight years we heard that bull-caca

Even though he believes "there ought to be limits to freedom" - we'll call him Shrub, Dubya, Commander In Thief till the cows come home.

(anyhow, the elected president is Al Gore)
posted by owillis at 6:03 AM on April 27, 2001

...constantly making up nicknames for people is very disrespectful...

Hmm. Should somebody have told Bush this before he started coming up with cutesy names for every reporter, legislator, advisor, etc. with whom he comes in regular contact? Or is there some specific subset of nicknames that's objectionable?
posted by harmful at 6:15 AM on April 27, 2001

Dammit, harmful, you beat me to it. Great minds and all that.
posted by lia at 6:46 AM on April 27, 2001

Steve_high: So, when's Gergen going to work for Bush? Why has it taken him so long to start advising? I'm sure McSweeney's would be quite pleased, if he's ready. A grateful nation awaits Gergen.
posted by raysmj at 7:39 AM on April 27, 2001

HEY! I don't sleep with the guy. But if Gergen and Lord, neither of whom is a bomb-throwing leftwinger, say that President Bush screwed up big-time, then this latest foot-in-mouth outbreak is a lot more than "a typical opposition-created nonevent," as Aaron said.

My nickname comment was an attempt at irony, which worked about as well as it usually does in an e-mail world.

If you'd like to know what I REALLY think....
posted by steve_high at 8:12 AM on April 27, 2001

I think Bush's comments were certainly unplanned and arguably stupid (in the sense of "saying something before thinking it all the way through"). But while I strongly dislike Bush and most of his policies, I must say that his detractors who have attempted to capitalize on the incident have actually convinced me that this incident wasn't so bad. They (the detractors) keep saying "this represents a major shift in policy towards China, since Bush plainly stated our position instead of wrapping it up in layers and layers of carefully nuanced and convoluted diplomatic language as has always been the case before". And while I'm as big a fan of diplomacy as the next guy, I can't help thinking that if this is true -- if the only thing that has really changed is the presentation of our position -- then I'll take "plain-spokenness' over "weasel wordiness" any day.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 9:25 AM on April 27, 2001

Weasel words are necessary around powder kegs. Read this short Brookings Institute piece to see why the previous Carter-Reagan-Bush-Clinton policy was better that the current Mongolian cluster-fuck policy.
posted by steve_high at 10:24 AM on April 27, 2001

I'll take "plain-spokenness" over "weasel wordiness" any day.

When it comes to diplomacy, there is no "plain-spokenness". People have this naive idea that the President should always be shooting from the hip, and speaking the God's honest truth. No President has ever, ever been honest with the American people all the time (even most of the time). And remember, too, that he's not just speaking to us, but to China and the rest of the world. Being able to work those "layers and layers" of "weasel wordiness" is the guy's job fer chrissakes.
posted by jpoulos at 10:26 AM on April 27, 2001

Shadowkeeper, you really, really think we're going to strike a match to our Minuteman missiles over Taiwan. ROFL.

There's plain-spoken, and there's a bull in a China shop.

aaron, if the 100 days crap is an "opposition-created non-event", why the hell has White House lapdog network FOXNews spent every waking moment of it celebrating everything right down to a successful Bush urination? Or is FOX just another "liberal" media outlet?
posted by dhartung at 10:56 AM on April 27, 2001

I wasn't even going down to the pond, taking in all the other plastic, generally, can seven different round telephones float like drowned sockets of inert peanut butter clock shoes. Some time earlier, but not under the bed where the black licorice envelope took Germany out for lattes, there were and there weren't. It was because of, and not for, that the high spanking nipple twirls.
posted by honkzilla at 8:34 PM on July 11, 2001

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