Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Narcissism of Small Differences

The Narcissism of Small Differences
by Bevin Chu

November 1, 2009

Taiwan Independence Movement Banner reading: "Taiwan on one side, China on the other"

Champion of a "Taiwanese, not Chinese" ethnic and national identity desperate not to be mistaken for a "Chinaman."

The China Desk: I recently stumbled across the following item of black humor about "The Narcissism of Small Differences." Founder of Psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud once noted that people often feel greater hostility towards those slightly different from them, than those dramatically different from them.

Freud considered this an example of narcissism, because the emotional distress that individuals afflicted with the Narcissism of Small Differences is the result of looking into a mirror but seeing an intolerable blemish on one's own face.

Hence the incomprehensible and irrational hostility self-styled champions of a "Taiwanese, not Chinese ethnic and political identity" feel towards "Chinese" (i.e., fellow Chinese on either Taiwan or the Chinese mainland).

Champions of a "Taiwanese, not Chinese ethnic and political identity" are deathly afraid of being "mistaken for Chinese." God forbid anyone should lump intrinsically superior "Taiwanese" together with superficially similar, but congenitally inferior "Chinese."

The narcissism of small differences most often applies to politics, but one of the best jokes on the subject pertains to religion.

The Narcissism of Small Differences

I was walking across a bridge one sunny day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over to him and said: 'Stop. Don't do it.'

'Why not?' he asked.

'Well, there's so much to live for!'

'Like what?'

'Are you religious?'

He said: 'Yes.'

I said. 'Me too. Are you Christian or Muslim?'


'Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?''


'Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?'


'Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?'

'Baptist Church of God.'

'Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?'

'Reformed Baptist Church of God.'

'Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?'

He said: 'Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915.'

I said: "Die, you heretic scum!" and pushed him over the railing.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is Taiwan's Status Undetermined?

Is Taiwan's Status Undetermined?
by Bevin Chu
October 11, 2009

Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Soong Mei-ling at the Cairo Conference

On September 11, former Republic of China President Chen Shui-Bian was convicted on four counts of corruption, and given a life sentence.

Chen is now demanding that the U.S. Court of Appeals order his release, arguing that the United States still has authority over the island of Taiwan.

Chen says that under the terms of a 1951 peace treaty with Japan, the United States remains the "principal occupying power" of Taiwan, and that as president of the Republic of China, it was his duty to accept orders from U.S. military officials.

Chen says that because of his unique relationship with the United States Military Government for Taiwan, he enjoys immunity from prosecution by the very government for which he was president for eight years.

Chen, in short, has invoked the "Taiwan's Undetermined Status Theory."

Does Chen's argument have any merit?

None whatsoever.

Taiwan is China's sovereign territory. Taiwan is one of China's thirty odd provinces and autonomous regions. Taiwan has belonged to China since the Ming dynasty, longer than the United States of America has been in existence. The island of Taiwan was once part of Fujian Province. In the late Qing dynasty Taiwan was upgraded to the status of a province.

Japan extorted Taiwan at gunpoint from China on April 17, 1895, but was forced to return it to China on October 25, 1945, following Japan's defeat during WWII. October 25 is celebrated annually on Taiwan as Taiwan Retrocession Day.

Japan formally returned Taiwan to China in two official Taiwan Retrocession signing ceremonies, one in Nanking, the other in Taipei.

Japan knew who Taiwan belonged to when Japan annexed it, and Japan knew whom to return it to 50 years later.

The so-called "Taiwan's Undetermined Status Theory" is sheer sophistry, and amounts to a brazen attempt to annex another nation's sovereign territory.

In the Cairo Declaration of 1943, the United States, Great Britain and China jointly agreed that:

"All the territories that Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Formosa and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China."

On July 26, 1945, the three governments followed this up with the Potsdam Proclamation, which affirmed that:

"The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out."

Those who allege that "Taiwan's status is undetermined" ritually invoke the Treaty of San Francisco of September 8, 1951. But this treaty is not binding on China, because neither the Republic of China government in Taipei or the Peoples Republic of China government in Beijing signed it.

What is binding, is the Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan, which was signed by Yeh Kung-chao, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of China, and Isao Kawada, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Plenipotentiary of Japan, in Taipei, on April 28, 1952.

Treaty of Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan

Article 4 of this treaty clearly and unambiguously states that:

"It is recognised that all treaties, conventions, and agreements concluded before 9 December 1941 between Japan and China have become null and void as a consequence of the war."

In other words, the Makuan Treaty of 1895 (aka Treaty of Shimonoseki) has been rolled back, and Taiwan, including Diaoyutai, as well as Penghu, revert to China.

As Ching Cheong, writing in Singapore's Straits Times, correctly notes,

Prior to the Korean War, the US accepted Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. But the fighting that broke out in the Korean peninsula in June 1950 changed the US attitude. Seeing Taiwan's value as an 'unsinkable aircraft carrier', a famous characterisation by General Douglas MacArthur, the US began to say that 'the status of Taiwan was undetermined'. To give legal basis to this claim, the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty with Japan merely committed the latter to surrendering Taiwan but did not specify to whom the island was to be returned. This amounted to a repudiation of US treaty obligations as spelt out in the Cairo and Potsdam instruments.

It is unconvincing to say that when a Chinese territorial issue was at stake, the Cairo and Potsdam declarations, to which the ROC was a signatory, should carry less weight than the San Francisco Peace Treaty to which China was not.

Simply put, Japan annexed Taiwan by defeating China, which regained the island by defeating Japan half a century later. This historical fact is so crystal clear that in pre-1945 days, no one in the international community had ever raised doubt about it.

The 1972 Shanghai Communique codified this US position.

"Principle One: There is one China, and Taiwan is part of China. There will be no more statements made to the effect that the status of Taiwan is undetermined."

Taiwan's status is not "undetermined." Taiwan belongs to China.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Russians Not Forced to Detour during 9/21 Earthquake

Russian Search and Rescue Team on a Mission in 2008

China Desk: During the 9/21 Earthquake of 1999, Taiwan independence propagandists disseminated a Big Lie. They alleged that Russian rescue workers were forced to detour around mainland Chinese airspace, delaying their arrival on Taiwan, possibly costing human lives. This allegation was a flagrant lie.

Below is a letter from Julian Clegg to the Taipei Times refuting this urban legend, which stubbornly persists even though it was discredited a decade ago.

The Moscow correspondent for the China Times who refuted this urban legend, was Arkady Borisov. His name in Chinese is 包理述 (Bao Lishu).

The Chief Coordinator of the Russian Emergency Assistance Team (Emercom) when the 9/21 Earthquake struck, was Vladimir Boreiko. His name is also Latinised as Boreyko and is given in the China Times article as 博雷科 (Boleike).

Media Myth Lives On:
Russians Not Forced to Detour during 9/21 Earthquake
by Julian Clegg, Taipei
September 18, 2009

Monday marks the 10th anniversary of the 921 Earthquake of 1999. Members of rescue teams who came to Taiwan’s aid after the quake have been invited to attend a series of commemorative events this week.

On Sept. 25, 1999, four days after the earthquake, the Taipei Times ran an article entitled “Taipei accuses China of exploiting quake.” The newspaper followed the government and Chinese-language media in reporting “a Russian earthquake relief mission en route to Taiwan was forced to make a lengthy detour over Siberia because [mainland] China refused to allow the Russian plane carrying the team to pass through its airspace.”

On April 1 this year, the Taipei Times reported that “a group of Russian search and rescue workers that helped local teams during the 921 Earthquake in 1999 will come to Taiwan this September to take part in an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the quake ... At the time, Russia dispatched a group of 83 professional search-and-rescue personnel to help in the search for survivors. Because of [mainland] China’s refusal to allow Russian planes to fly through its airspace, the help was delayed for 12 hours.”

I must point out that this accusation, though widely believed by people in Taiwan, is untrue.

When the accusation first appeared in the media, I felt doubtful for three reasons. First, different media disagreed widely about the length of the delay. Second, according to my understanding of relations between Russia, [mainland] China and Taiwan, I thought it unlikely that [mainland] China would refuse such a request. Third, the source of the report was said to be a Russian-language newspaper Segodnya (Today). I found this odd because it is very rare for Taiwanese media to report stories from the Russian media, especially when the original article is in Russian.

Out of curiosity, I visited the Russian trade office on Xinyi Road to ask whether the reports were true. The Russian trade representative and other staff said they had not heard of it.

The Russian representative said: “Not everything you read in the newspapers is always true.”

He explained that he had played a key role in facilitating the rescue mission. He assured me that the Russian team had never requested to fly through [mainland] Chinese air space, since the quickest and most efficient way for them to come here was to follow their established domestic route from Moscow to the Russian Far East, and from there across the sea to Taiwan.

He said the route from Russia to Taiwan was registered with international aviation authorities, although it was not in commercial use. It had only been used once before, for a private flight to Taiwan by Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky (who visited Taiwan from Oct. 18 to Oct. 22, 1998.)

The trade representative said [mainland] China could not have refused permission for the Russian plane to fly over [mainland] China, because the Russians never made any such request.

Following those reports in 1999, however, Taiwanese politicians, including then foreign minister Jason Hu (胡志強) and then Taoyuan County commissioner Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), publicly condemned [mainland] China for its supposed callousness in delaying the Russian rescue mission,.

The incident was cited as a pretext for refusing material aid, such as tents, prefabricated houses and so on, from [mainland] China, and turning down Beijing’s offer to send a medical team, although a cash donation from [mainland] China was accepted. Incidentally, Taiwan also refused aid offered by the Philippines.

After leaving the Russian trade office, I told what I had heard to Time magazine’s Taiwan correspondent Donald Shapiro, and called in to Li Ao’s (李敖) television call-in program and another call-in program on radio.

On Oct. 1, 1999, Taiwan’s representative office in Moscow invited members of the rescue team, who had just returned to Russia, to dinner.

Arkady Borisov, Moscow correspondent of the China Times, asked the rescue team whether it was true that they had been refused passage through [mainland] Chinese airspace. Team leader Vladimir Boreiko replied that it was not true, and proceeded to give the same account that the Russian representative in Taipei gave to me. This report appeared in the China Times on Oct. 3, 1999, and is still available online.

These are the facts of the matter as far as I know. Anyone who is still in doubt will have a chance to ask the Russian rescue team members during their visit to Taiwan this week.


China Desk: below is the China Times article mentioned in Julian Clegg's letter. This China Times article, submitted by Russian reporter Arkady Borisov, refuted this Taiwan independence Big Lie back in 1999, less than two weeks after the quake struck.










Thursday, June 11, 2009

Him Mark Lai, Dean of Chinese American History

The China Desk: The following is a eulogy to Him Mark Lai, written by my good friend Ling-chi Wang, who considers Lai the "Dean of Chinese American History."

I never knew Lai. My own political views are quite different from Lai's. Lai was a socialist. I am a free market anarchist.

But I do share one thing with Lai and my friend Ling-chi. I share their sworn hostility toward racism and racial inequality.

Him Mark Lai helped set the record straight about the history of ugly bigotry against ethnic Chinese in America. And for that he deserves the highest recognition.

-- Bevin Chu

Him Mark Lai, 1925-2009: the Dean of Chinese American History
by Dr. Ling-chi Wang,
Professor of Asian American Studies
UC Berkeley

Him Mark Lai, 1925-2009: the Dean of Chinese American History

Him Mark Lai, an internationally renowned archivist and historian of Chinese America and a highly respected leader of the community, died peacefully on Thursday, May 21, after a long struggle with cancer and other complications. For his immense contributions to Chinese American history, Prof. L. Ling-chi Wang of Asian American Studies at UC Berkeley called him “the Dean of Chinese American history.” He was 84 years old.

Him Mark Lai was born on November 1, 1925 in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Lai was the first in his family to begin life in America. His mother, Dong Hing Mui, was raised in Guangzhou while his father Maak Bing—from Chunghaa Village, Nam Hoi county—entered the United States under the paper name of Lai. But he passed his true ancestral roots to his five children by giving them each the middle name of Mark.

Since his childhood in Chinatown, he was an avid reader and collector of books in both Chinese and English. Like many Chinatown children before World War II, he started schooling at both Commodore Stockton Elementary School and Nam Kue Chinese School. From there, he went to Francisco Junior High School and Galileo High School. He excelled in both public and Chinese schools. During his final year at Galileo High, he also won a citywide essay contest for which he was honored at a student body rally.

Upon graduation from high school, he expressed his desire to go to college. However, his father urged him to go for a job in the city’s shipyards, pointing out that racism had prevented his own employer, a university graduate, from working in his profession. Him Mark refused and his irresistible desire was supported by his mother. Toward this end, he worked part time for 25 cents an hour at a sewing factory while attending first in the City College of San Francisco for two years. He completed his mechanical engineering degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1947.

Between work and study, Him Mark found time to join the San Francisco chapter of the Chinese League for Peace and Democracy, an organization opposed to American interference in China’s Civil War, 1945-1949. In late 1949, he started volunteering for the Chung Sai Yat Po, the first daily paper to support the new People’s Republic of China, and became also a member of organizations active in persuading students to return to China to serve the new government. He also joined the Chinese American Democratic Youth League, more familiarly known as Mun Ching, where he met Laura Jung, a young new immigrant, whom he eventually married in 1953. Laura became his life-time companion and steadfast supporter and collaborator in his work on Chinese American history until he died. Since he never learned how to drive, his countless research trips criss-crossing the U.S. could not have been accomplished without the ever-present love, care, and devotion of Laura.

With his hope of returning to China thwarted, he settled for a job in Bechtel Corporation as a mechanical engineer. The profession provided him both security and income and allowed him to pursue his real passion: the study of Chinese history and culture. During the McCarthy era in 1950s, introducing the Chinese community to the songs, music, folk dances, and vernacular dramas of the New China through Mun Ching—now renamed the Chinese American Youth Club—proved immensely satisfying despite the cost of constant FBI surveillance and intimidation. In the process, he also gained mastery of both spoken and written Chinese, skills turned out to be most useful for his later interest in doing research in Chinese American history.

When Mun Ching lost its clubroom in 1959 and was forced to close, Lai felt intellectually restless. The following year, he enrolled in a course, “The Oriental in North America,” a relatively new course taught by Stanford Lyman at the University of California Extension in San Francisco, which exposed him for the first time to the histories of the Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos in America. He subsequently read a half dozen or so titles on Chinese in America published in the early 1960s and joined the Chinese Historical Society of America soon after its founding in 1963.

These events, together with contemporaneous changes in the status of minorities spurred by the Civil Rights movement, led Lai towards developing a Chinese American identity and history. In 1967, he accepted an invitation by the East/West, the Chinese American Weekly, a Chinese bilingual weekly published and edited by Gordon Lew, to write a series of articles on Chinese American history. This marked the beginning of his interest and devotion to reclaiming Chinese/American experience—a fortuitous confluence of his passion for history and his deep commitment to his bicultural heritage and democratic principles.

His most significant contributions to Chinese American history fall in three broad categories: research and publications; archival collections; and nurturing and mentoring of young Chinese American historians.

In all, he published and edited ten books and more than one hundred articles in English and Chinese on all aspects of Chinese American life. His East/West articles—revised and annotated—became the basis for the classic A History of the Chinese in California, A Syllabus, coedited with Thomas W. Chinn and Philip P. Choy, as well as for the first Chinese American history course in the United States, which Lai team taught with Choy at San Francisco State College in Fall 1969. Their joint teaching resulted in another classic Outlines: History of the Chinese in America. Lai’s first scholarly essay, “A Historical Survey of Organizations of the Left Among the Chinese in America,” published in the Fall 1972 issue of the Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars—together with subsequent revisions—remains a standard reference. So do Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island 1910-1940, co-authored/translated with Genny Lim and Judy Yung; Lai’s “Chinese on the Continental U.S.” in the Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups; his From Overseas Chinese to Chinese American: a History of the Development of Chinese during the Twentieth Century (in Chinese) and articles in the Encyclopedia of Chinese Overseas and Huaquiao Huaren baike quanshu [Encyclopedia of Chinese and people of Chinese descent overseas]. Under his guidance and editorial leadership, no less then ? volumes of monographs, entitled, Chinese America: History & Perspectives, have been published. Each monograph contained original historical studies on subjects in Chinese American history by historians, young and old. Among his most important books is Becoming Chinese Americans: A History of Communities and Institutions, published in 2004.

To dig up the ignored and buried past, Him Mark Lai collected archival materials from Chinese American individuals and organizations across the nation, rescuing documents and old Chinese-language books and newspaper collections from dumpsters, second-hand and rare books stores. With Laura, he traveled to archives and Chinese/American communities on both sides of the Pacific, interviewed hundreds of people, and gathered valuable historical materials. Through his tireless search and rescue came two very important published bibliographies of Chinese newspapers and Chinese language materials: Chinese Newspapers Published in North America, 1854-1975 co-complied with Karl Lo in 1977 and A History Reclaimed: An Annotated Bibliography of Chinese Language Materials on the Chinese in America in 1986. Both are considered indispensable tools and sources for Chinese American history. Five years ago, he decided to donate his entire personal collection of rare documents and journals, monographs and books to the Chinese American Archival Collection in the Asian American Studies Collection in the Ethnic Studies Library of the University of California, Berkeley. Through a generous grant from the National Archives, the entire collection is now processed, catalogued and digitized and available to the public at:

Besides being a historian and archivist, Him Mark Lai was a generous and effective teacher, always ready to share his wealth of knowledge and collection with anyone interested into doing research on Chinese American history. He taught occasional courses in Chinese American history in the Asian American Studies Programs at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley. He provided guidance to hundreds for graduate students and scholars throughout the U.S. and across the globe. It would not be an exaggeration to say that virtually ever dissertation and book on the subject in the past thirty years is indebted to his research, collection materials, or guidance.

Beyond his contributions to Chinese American history mentioned above, Him Mark Lai also maintained his cultural and political commitment to the Chinese American community. For thirteen years, he coordinated a group that produced Hon Sing, a weekly radio program of news commentary, community announcements, and Chinese music under the auspices of the Chinese for Affirmative Action; and he served multiple terms on the boards of many organizations—such as the Chinese Culture Foundation and the Chinese Historical Society of America—often assuming the responsibilities of president. He also encouraged and brought to light new research by others through his decades of work on the editorial committees of Amerasia Journal and other publications.

Not widely known to the public is his lifelong quiet, but consistent support for racial equality and justice for Chinese Americans. He always supported the progressive, and quite often, unpopular, but just causes in the Chinese American community, even though he rarely played a visible role in these struggles.

Finally, Him Mark Lai was a tireless promoter of better understanding and friendly relation between the U.S. and China. He understood the importance of this relationship to the interests and welfare of Chinese Americans and he consistently supported events and projects promoting better relations between the two countries.

In conclusion, Him Mark Lai will long be remembered as the historian who rescued Chinese American history from oblivion and restored Chinese American experience as an integral part of not just U.S. history but the history of modern China.

A memorial service and celebration of Him Mark Lai’s life will be held at the Chinese Culture Center at 750 Kearny Street in San Francisco’s Chinatown on Saturday, June 20 at 2:30 p.m., followed by dinner at Gold Mountain Restaurant, 644 Broadway, at 5 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the “Him Mark Lai Digital Archive Project” of the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA), the “Him Mark Lai Heritage Fund” of the Chinese Culture Foundation (CCF), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), or the charity of one’s choice.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Mainland China to Resume the Use of Traditional Chinese Characters within Ten Years?

Mainland China to Resume the Use of Traditional Chinese Characters within Ten Years?
Nanfang Daily
March 3, 2009
Translated by Bevin Chu

Love without a Heart: Ai, or "Love," in Simplified Chinese 
Love with a Heart: Ai, or "Love," in Traditional Chinese

The China Desk: Taiwan independence demagogues have long denounced Chinese reunification as "surrender to Beijing." 


Champions of free market capitalism, including myself, like to joke that "The Cold War is over. We won." 

The USSR lost the Cold War to the USA. The PRC lost the Cold War to the ROC.  

Beijing was forced to admit that it lost to Taipei. Beijing was forced to admit that it was defeated by Taipei in the War of Economic Systems. Deng Xiaoping on the Chinese mainland, was forced to adopt the free market capitalism practiced by Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo on Taiwan.   

So who surrendered to whom? 

If that isn't enough, now Beijing is being forced to admit that it lost to Taipei in the War of Characters. 

So who says reunification means "surrender to Beijing?"

Closer examination suggests that reunification means "victory over Beijing." 

Mainland China to Resume the Use of Traditional Chinese Characters within Ten Years? 
Nanfang Daily 
March 3, 2009
Translated by Bevin Chu

Pan Qingling, a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Committee Member, has proposed that the nation phase out the use of Simplified Chinese characters in stages, and resume the use of Traditional Chinese characters within ten years, for three reasons.

One. The adoption of Simplified Chinese characters in the 1950s, during the last century, was too crude. It constituted a violation of Chinese writing, both artistically and scientifically. For example, the Traditional Chinese character for "love" includes the character for "heart." Upon simplification, the result is "love without a heart."

Two. It was once said that Traditional Characters were too complex, too hard to learn, too hard to write, and not conducive to popularization. But now most people use computers. No matter how complex the characters might be, they are no more difficult to type. This is no longer a problem.

Three. Resuming the use of Traditional Chinese characters is beneficial to reunification. The Taiwan region still uses Traditional Chinese characters, and refers to them as "Standard Characters." This has deep implications. The use of "Standard Characters" as an intangible cultural heritage exerts a form of pressure on the mainland.

2009年03月03日 03:33 


1 上世紀50年代簡化漢字時太粗糙,違背了漢字的藝術和科學性。比如愛字,繁體字裡有個“心”,簡化後,造成“無心之愛”。

2 以前說繁體字太繁瑣,難學難寫,不利於傳播,但是現在很多人都是用電腦輸入,再繁瑣的字打起來也一樣,所以這個問題已經漸漸不存在。

3 恢復使用繁體字有利於兩岸統一。現在台灣依然用繁體字,並稱其為“正體字”,深有意味,還要為“正體字”申請非物質文化遺產,給祖國大陸方面造成了壓力。

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Barack Obama, Washington's Answer to "Hancock?"

Barack Obama, Washington's Answer to "Hancock?"
Bevin Chu
January 20, 2009

Is Barack Obama Washington's answer to Hollywood's "Hancock?"

Popular films, as Jungian psychologists know full well, are highly revealing indicators of society's "Collective Unconscious."

What do the recent spate of superhero movies from Hollywood reflect, but America's desperate yearning for a messiah, a savior, or angel, such as the post-modern angel in "Hancock," played by Will Smith?

Is Barack Obama Washington's answer to Hollywood's "Hancock?"

Barack Obama, Washington's Answer to Hollywood's Hancock?

Will Smith as Superhero "Hancock"

Update October 10, 2009:

Gasps as Obama awarded Nobel Peace Prize
By KARL RITTER and MATT MOORE, Associated Press Writers Karl Ritter And Matt Moore, Associated Press Writers

OSLO – The announcement drew gasps of surprise and cries of too much, too soon. Yet President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday because the judges found his promise of disarmament and diplomacy too good to ignore.

China Desk: Apparently even the Nobel Prize Committee judges are not immune from the yearning for a messiah.

They have essentially awarded Obama the Nobel Peace Prize in advance, in the hope that Obama will deliver on his implied promise.

Let's hope they're not disappointed.

China Desk Update (2011.12.12): The inevitable disappointment has since set in and is now well advanced. Consider the following excerpts from an article by Gene Healy.

Now It's 'Obama the Irrelevant'
by Gene Healy
DC Examiner
December 6, 2011

Obama's current difficulties were entirely predictable, however. It isn't just that he's been a terrible president, it's that no earthly figure could deliver the miracles he promised: among other things, "a complete transformation of the economy, "care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless," to "end the age of oil in our time," begin to heal the very planet and, perhaps most unrealistically, "fundamentally change the way Washington works."

Like they say, though, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Since Obama has stoked irrational public expectations for presidential salvation in virtually every public policy area, it's hard to feel sorry for him.

The Framers' envisioned a modest constitutional "chief magistrate," who would secure the rule of law, not overturn it. But decades of longing for a national redeemer have turned the presidency into a constitutional abomination: an office that promises everything and guarantees nothing, save public frustration and the steady growth of federal power.

The quest for "transformational figures" and "redemptive presidents" reflects a dangerous, adolescent view of the presidency. If only it were limited to the lad-mags.

China Desk: If only it were limited to the comic books, or "graphic novels."