Something shocking happened last week, something possibly unprecedented in the nation's history.
A politician said something that made sense.
Believe me, I'd much prefer to heap ridicule on Prez A-bian (
But in last Tuesday's Double Ten National Day address, Chen Shui-bian actually spoke logically.
What's more, he captured in a few breaths what is perhaps the most compelling reason why the lads and ladies in red trotting around Taipei with their thumbs akimbo -- well-intentioned though a few of them may be -- are no friends of this nation's fragile democracy.
To wit: "I am certain that the vast majority of the people, while adamant in demanding that corruption be curbed, do not endorse trials by public opinion based on tabloid reportage. Those who hold high expectations of anti-corruption efforts should place their confidence in the judicial system ... To lightly dismiss or be suspicious of the judiciary merely because its findings and verdicts do not turn out as one had hoped -- this would be the greatest insult and injury to the democratic rule of law."
This is a dangerous trend. What are us snarky members of the commentariat going to do if politicians start going around sounding intelligent?
Fortunately, Chen didn't entirely disappoint. Just a few minutes later, he was having trouble deciding whether he was Moses or Jesus Christ: "Four years later [in the 2004 election], the great people of Taiwan gave me another chance to lead them toward the promised land. I am willing to dedicate my life to bearing the cross for Taiwan."
Isn't there some kind of rule about how many saviors you can liken yourself to in one speech? And why stop at the Christian references? Why not add: "And Allah be praised, I'm willing to wage jihad on behalf of Taiwan's flat-panel producers?"
But A-bian's otherwise sensible comments fell mostly on deaf ears, as opposition politicians vied to see who could look the worst in a red suit, lead security staff in a comic chase through the honor guard and attempt to rush the speaker's podium.
That childish display was a new nadir for the pan-blue -- I mean red -- camp, but my colleagues over at the China Post concluded in Wednesday's editorial that the whole thing was Chen's fault.
"It's you, Mr. President, who compelled the Redshirts [sic] to take to the streets and the opposition lawmakers to give you the thumbs down before the diplomatic corps and the foreign dignitaries. If you, your family and your top lieutenants had not been allegedly or actually involved in scandal after shocking scandal, none of the people would have turned out to demand that you step down."
Ah, I get it: The president's to blame not because there's any evidence he's done anything wrong. It's because there's so many darn allegations. I mean, with so many accusations flying around, some of them must be true, right?
And if you swallow this swipe at Chen by China Post's editorial writer, you would never guess that anyone came out after the 2004 presidential election demanding Chen step down for paying some clown to have him shot.