Sunday, May 07, 2006

From "President Chen" to "He"


"Kremlinology," according to Wikipedia, is the study of Soviet politics and policies based on the inner workings of the Kremlin, the seat of the Soviet government. During the Cold War, lack of reliable information about the country forced Western analysts to "read between the lines" and to use the tiniest tidbits, such as the removal of portraits, the rearranging of chairs, the assignment of positions on the reviewing stand for May Day parades, and other indirect signs to understand what was happening in internal Soviet politics.

Now that the Soviet Union has been relegated to the dustbin of history, today's "Kremlinology" is the study of the politics and policies of the new "Evil Empire," based on the inner workings of the White House, the seat of Imperium Americanus. Now that Washington has unilaterally declared a "New Cold War" against China, latter day Kremlinologists "read between the lines" and rely on indirect signs to understand what is happening in internal Beltway politics.

The State Department's Daily Press Briefings, for example, have been providing unmistakable signs of the Bush administration's increasing frustration with and contempt for its unruly puppet regime on Taiwan.

State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack's Daily Press Briefing on May 4, 2006, was especially revealing:

State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack

Daily Press Briefing

Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 4, 2006

QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. Do you have any updates on Taiwan's President Chen's transit through the United States?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I understand he will, on his outbound leg to his destination in South America, or destinations in South America, that he will not be transiting the United States. It is an open question whether or not -- whether on the way back he will transit the United States. As of this point, we don't have a request for that, but if we do receive the request we will certainly look at it consistent with our past practice on that question.

QUESTION: A follow-up. In the past, the U.S. has approved Taiwanese leaders to transit through other U.S. cities like New York, San Francisco, which were more preferable to the Taiwan side. Can you tell us why this time the U.S. put only stops in Alaska?

MR. MCCORMACK: There was an offer of transit through Anchorage, Alaska, which we thought was appropriate. We take each of these requests on a case-by-case basis. Each of them we take on their individual merits and beyond that I don't have any further comment on it.

QUESTION: One last follow up, sir. In your (inaudible) yesterday, you called Chen Shui-bian "he" and never once did you address his title and you are the spokesperson and a diplomat, I would assume your expressions are --

MR. MCCORMACK: "He" referred to Chen Shui-bian.


QUESTION: Excuse me, can I follow up on this President's transit issue? By rejecting the U.S. offer to transit in through Alaska, President Chen is obviously, you know, showing his displeasure with the U.S. arrangement. Do you think there will, you know, a chilling effect of current and future U.S.-Taiwan relations?

MR. MCCORMACK: First of all, I would refer you to his -- Chen Shui-bian's traveling party for a comment on why they chose not to transit through Alaska. And as for the second part of your question, I would expect that it would not have any effect.

Yes, Nicholas.

QUESTION: The transit -- was that meant to be just to refuel for a couple of hours or was that supposed to include an overnight if the timing coincided or --

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, you can talk to his traveling party about that.

QUESTION: Well, no, but wait a second. This is a serious decision -- was that -- what does transit mean? Does it mean 24 hours, less than 24 hours, 12 hours? What does it mean?

MR. MCCORMACK: It has meant different things at different times.


From "President Chen" to "He"

State Department spokesmen initially referred to Chen as "President Chen Shui-bian."

After Chen reneged on his Five Noes Pledge and began making trouble for Washington, State Department spokesmen began referring to Chen as "Mr. Chen," dropping the title "President."

After Chen ignored the exhortations of US envoys discreetly dispatched to Taipei by the Bush White House, State Department spokesmen began referring to Chen as "Chen Shui-bian," dropping even the "Mr." ordinarily granted to any Tom, Dick, or Harry.

After Chen openly thumbed his nose at the US by changing his flight plans at the eleventh hour, after agreeing to and applying for transit through Anchorage, Alaska, State Department spokesmen began referring to Chen as "he," refusing even to say his name.

None of this escaped the notice of reporters present at the State Department Daily Press Briefing, who asked McCormack to clarify the government's position.

Nor has any of this escaped the notice of Kremlinologists on Taiwan, several of whom joked that at least State Department spokesmen didn't refer to Chen as "it." Not yet anyway.

But stay tuned. Who knows what State Department spokesmen will call Chen next? After all, we haven't forgotten that behind closed doors Bush Jr. refers to Chen as "That SOB," have we?


  1. MR. MCCORMACK: It has meant different things at different times.

    The nature of the beast:

    "Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose falsehood as his PRINCIPLE." Alexandr I. Solzhenitsyn

  2. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Dear Bevin,
    Very nice and clear observation. You have said it quite eloquently. Just compare the treatment of KMT chairman Ma with Chen Shui-bian. It is clear who the US supports, and it is also clear who the mainland supports, and it is also clear who Taiwan supports. Chen Shui-bian should be impeached for his bad performance and dirty tricks. In Western democracies, such politicians would not be allowed to be in office. I recall Nixon.

  3. "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less."

    "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

    "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master-- that's all."

    Both Chen and the Bush administration are Humpty Dumpties who use Orwellian Newspeak.

    What's funny about this latest encounter is that Chen, who has been victimizing the Chinese people on Taiwan, has now been victimized by the US hegemon.

  4. The mastery of falsehood requires a slave to falsehood, a self-delusional dupe or victim, without which the falsehood is known to be false and therefore falsehood is rendered powerless.
    On the other hand: the power to utilize language, as a means of communicating fact, is mastery, and a means by which people manage to exchange, or get along, peacefully.
    The Humpty Dumpty story, for example, highlights these facts. Either an individual commands language or is subjected to it. A person is responsible for their own power of reason or a person pretends to abdicate that responsibility, which is in fact a falsehood since; one must choose to believe in anything - true or false.
    It is unreasonable to believe in falsehood, unless, falsehood is understood, to be, a means by which an end is engineered.
    This is very simple. To suggest otherwise, to suggest that falsehood is anything less than willful distortion of language meant to deceive, on purpose, is to claim, falsely, that human beings do not have the individual power to choose.
    Compared to:
    I choose “liar”. I choose to judge a person, an individual, based upon trust; first.
    If, for example, “Chen” happened to be in front of me, asking for a job perhaps, to baby sit my kids, for example, my pre-judgment of that individual, ‘liar’, will inspire me to test that pre-judgment for factual evidence before hiring that individual for any possible future exchange of any kind.
    I might say:
    “Excuse me please; I have pre-judged you to be a liar. This is a regrettable situation but none the less true. I see only one way to resolve my error, my prejudice, if there is to be any hope, the slightest chance, which can arrive at something similar to mutual trust. You, sir, must answer the charges that have been claimed against you. If you do not answer direct accusations directly, then, I will have my answers. Good day.”