Saturday, April 22, 2006

Rollin Out the Welcome Wagon

Originally uploaded by cudave60.
The latter part of this week in DC was marked by the visit of Chinese Premier Hu Jin Tao, the man HU'se name has been the source of an endless number of not very amusing puns. In addition to the endless line of Cadillac Limos on Penn. Ave in front of Blair House (for that blistering 350 yard ride to the South Lawn of the White House), there were endless lines of demonstrators: perfectly dressed, often in folklorique costume teams of Hu supporters - Chinese flags in hand, with really bad street demo music (from battery powered megaphones being held next to cassette players) dancing and holding signs with that very ESL style of writing: "Supporting the Visit of Premier Hu Jin Tao"; across the street were hundreds of nay sayers, the Falun Gong/Free Tibet/End the CCP groups. Their English skills weren't much better, but the visual aids were a bit more stark: alleged pictures of Falun Gong victims having had their organs harvested after being arrested in China. The remarkable thing was how civil everyone was, even though their screams were at maximum decibel level. There were a few Park Service cops, apparently given a reprieve for a day, from giving speeding tickets on the GW Parkway, but they never had to use their truncheons, not even once. Inside the White House compound, it was a picture of hospitality: The usual Grand Plan south lawn reception (my first was July 1967, LBJ welcoming the Thai King) highlighted by the fife and drum corps marching to and fro in front of the honored guests, ran for about an hour. One colleague seemed to think, when a 15 passenger van pulled up to the reviewing stand, just moments before Hu arrived, that one of the people to step out, might be the elusive General Tso himself. But, no chicken. There were only a few screw ups, the most obvious one being the Chinese woman, a doctor apparently, who gained access with a temporary press pass to the main Media stand, who started yelling in the middle of Hu's speech, decrying him and his regime, and imploring the President to send him packing. It is always a jarring moment when a surprize happens like this: the cameras all swirled in her direction, (and apparently the CNN feed to China was somewhat sublimated during the 'embarassing moment') as she railed for several minutes. [Note: this is the cool thing about Blobbing: I dont have to back any of this crap up with actual facts, I can just repeat some of the good gossip I heard downtown.] The interesting thing is, no one saw this coming. Do we live in a time where the Plan is always run without incident? That everything goes according to the minutely detailed schedule? [Gee, after we forgot to be welcomed with flowers in Baghdad 3 years ago, maybe we should have noticed that things don't always work out like you think they will.] Anyway, it would have been a great moment for Pres. Bush to nudge Hu, remind him that Free Speech, even when it's embarassing socially, is something near and dear to us. But no, in the fashion of guest rather than host, the woman was taken away and according to press reports {boy, I LOVE that phrase...) was arrested by DC police for Disturbing the Peace. That aside, the most telling moment, the one we ll look at in two or three years, was when Hu thought that he and Bush were supposed to walk down from the stand again, and the President reached over and grabbed him by the sleeve. That was an "Economist" magazine cover moment. Subtle, full of wierd meaning, and something that may end up on one of those demonstrators placards the next time they meet. At the very least, it could be the picture to remind us that even though we'd like them NOT to be using so damn much gasoline, that they seem hell bent on having as many cars, and choking the streets and atmosphere as badly as we have all these years. All that petroleum going up in smoke. Hey, We're just sayin.


1 comment:

Walt said...

But think of the royalty-free checks from the protesters using your tug on their placards.

Thank you China for the General Tso Chicken on my plate.

Let's eat! But don't get ahead of me as we rush the buffet. That's not how we do things here in Texas.

Now here's my question. Why do Texans think anyone would waste their time messing with them?