Wed, Jan 19, 2000 - Page 8 News List

A slumping Lien Chan must find his form

By Wang Chien-Chuang

Vice President Lien Chan (連戰) has always done a good job at hiding behind the scenes. However, he recently allowed himself to see a little of the light of day when he dared to voice some of his own opinions -- only to find himself dodging brickbats and criticism.

He could not have foreseen this result.

Meanwhile, some people are deliberately trying to stir up bad blood between Lien and President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), by accusing him of hoping to force Lee's abdication from the KMT throne and then take over Lee's power.

As a result, he is faced with both external threats and internal turmoils.

Frankly speaking, if the situation continues, it is questionable whether Lien will ever have the courage again to express his own opinions.

Lien had hoped to play the role of an ideas man by proposing placing the KMT's assets into a trust.

He preferred to address the party's pitfalls rather than passively waiting for his opponents to launch attacks.

However, Lien aired the proposal without support or a timetable in place. As a result he left himself wide open to harsh criticism and was badly hurt as a result.

In the end he was trapped by a situation he created. Lien's luck could not possibly get worse.

In addition, when compared to other candidates, Lien simply lacks the talent for campaigning.

Other candidates are able to put on dramatic news conferences, while Lien sounds like a professor giving lectures.

Although what Lien lectures about may make a lot of sense, his listeners remain unmoved.

Anyone who has ever participated in an election knows that nothing moves voters more than those statements that not even the candidates themselves believe.

He can promise to build a bridge where there is not even a river. He can draw a beautiful portrait of the future to hang on the wall, so that you have something to hope for.

He can even solemnly say that he lives for the people of Taiwan.

These words may be no better than the sweet nothings lovers exchange, but the voters are mesmerized and take them for real.

Unfortunately, Lien lacks the ability to do the same and he does not have the genetic makeup for popular moves.

He does not sound humorous when he tells a joke.

He does not sound mean when he condemns others.

He sounds awkward when he tries to sell himself.

He is like a poker player who can screw up a great hand.

James Soong's (宋楚瑜) financial scandal did not ruin Soong.

But the proposal to place the KMT's party assets in a trust did not increase Lien's popularity.

As for Lien's concern that others are stirring up ill feeling between him and Lee, if Lien could communicate openly with Lee and reach a consensus that "that was then and this is now," what is there to fear?

Let's use the US as an example. Vice President Al Gore and President Bill Clinton have reached a silent consensus on four points: "I share all of your accomplishments; all of your faults have nothing to do with me; you endorse all the checks that I have issued; and I act for myself and you encourage me."

Gore's popularity has gradually improved from the slump he was in as a result of this tactic.

If Lien cannot reach a similar consensus with Lee,he must follow of all Lee's game rules and keep his mouth shut about his own opinions or he will find himself bogged down by rumors for the rest of the campaign.

If that happens, can he remain in the race?

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