Sat, Feb 03, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's NewsWatch: Heads, you spin - tails, I lose face

What hope does the average punter have when politicians talk in tedious riddles that defy sensible analysis? At least you know where you stand with the People's Daily's truth distortion quota. You gotta respect a rag that's consistent.

By Johnny Neihu 強尼內湖

Fans of US politics may remember the famous -- and effective -- line against Democratic Party candidate John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race: He was for the Iraq war, before he was against it.

Now we've got former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who apparently was for Taiwanese independence before he was against it, before he was for it again.

Said the sly old fox to Next Magazine on Monday: "I am not for Taiwanese independence, and I never proposed it ... People call me the `godfather of Taiwanese independence'; this is a commonly held view. My book [on political matters] has 25 chapters: where among them did I stress Taiwanese independence?"

Then, on Tuesday, Lee "clarified" to cable station TVBS that: "Taiwan is independent ... It is wrong for an independent nation to seek independence."

Hey, godfather: First, we really didn't need to know that your anthology of statements had 25 chapters.

And second: Huh?

Then there's Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who was against independence before he was for it, before he decided he was against it again last weekend. A year ago he said his party's ultimate goal was unification; then he said independence was an option; then, most recently he said it's not an option for his party.

Just for the record: Johnny Neihu was for independence before he was for it, was for it before that, and is still for it today.

Actually, it's not that Lee and Ma have inconsistent positions. It's just that understanding them takes a degree in international law, another in French literary theory and a corporate liability lawyer's appreciation of "nuance." Didn't these two jokers ever learn the old standby for politicians -- and all communicators, for that matter? Keep it simple, stupid.

Lee seems to be saying he never supported pushing for de jure independence -- and still doesn't -- because Taiwan is already independent in fact. Ma is trying to say that he holds with his party's stance -- which favors eventual unification with China -- but respects the right of the Taiwanese people as a whole to decide the nation's future.

There, now wasn't that easier? Of course, if you're deliberately confusing people in a last-ditch bid to extend the life of a small party on the verge of extinction, clear communication may not be your goal. And I may have missed some other "nuance" -- but if I did, you can stick it where the soleil don't shine.

In fact, Lee had some harsh words for his fellow waffler, saying Ma lacked "courage and determination."

According to the China Post, this broadside prompted Ma to respond that he would "show Lee his `courage and determination' if he had a chance to talk to Lee."

Now I don't care what bizarre euphemisms Ma uses for his personal equipment -- but talking to an old man like that is just sick. And wrong.

But the reluctant spiritual icon of Taiwan's de facto independence was on to something when he told Next Magazine the following: "The DPP creates the bogus agenda of `pursuing Taiwanese independence,' then the KMT plays the `anti-Taiwanese independence' card, but both blue and green camps are just using independence and unification issues. They talk about independence and unification everyday, but it's all fake, all power struggles."

Amen to that, brother.

We ought to force all these blowhards to give it a rest by settling the tiresome and distracting independence-unification debate the only fair way: flipping a coin. Heads, we join up with the Chicoms; tails, we create an independent Republic of Taiwan.

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