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 (
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.
Okay, how about two flips out of three?
Hey, a similar method was good enough for the dispute over electoral redistribution, which, as this paper and others reported, was settled by drawing lots, after Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
Perhaps it's not the ideal method of conflict resolution in what's supposed to be a fully functioning democracy. But hell, it worked -- and it might even be constitutional.
Wang and Su could be on to something here themselves. What to do with the controversial bill to purchase US arms? Roll those dice -- snake eyes says we go the whole hog and buy everything, boxcars says we call the whole thing off. The standoff over the KMT's Central Election Commission membership bill? Nothing a few rounds of "Rock, paper, scissors" can't fix.
Meanwhile, Beijing has its undies in a bunch over recent changes to high-school textbooks that no longer identify Sun Yat-sen (
The People's Daily took notice, though sadly it failed to attain its usual heights of near-poetic, mangled English propaganda:
`"We've noticed the developments. The political motive behind it is to transform the island's education into an ideological tool for `Taiwan independence,'' Yang Yi (楊毅), spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, told a regular briefing. `Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. No matter what tricks the secessionist forces play, they cannot change the fact.'
Yang also condemned Taiwan's National Palace Museum for removing all the labels that identify half a million exhibits as originating from the Chinese mainland, calling it a `despicable act.'"
Sheesh. You would have thought the government had proclaimed Doraemon the new father of the country (he's probably got more name recognition than old Sun among the kiddies these days). Or that it had spray-painted green the most priceless treasures from the Forbidden City.
Come to think of it, a splash of bright green might be just the thing to jazz up that piece of fake pork (and if that pork thing is the pinnacle of Chinese art, no wonder the museum wants to branch out a bit).
Then comes the best part:
"Mainland scholars have condemned the change, saying the revised regulation ignores historic fact and is just another attempt to cut Taiwan's links to the mainland. `Regulations can be changed, but history cannot,' said Liang Jinsheng (
History can't be changed? Now that's rich, coming from the Chinese Communist "What Tiananmen Massacre?" Party.
Last I checked, a typical Chicom textbook briefly glosses over the 1950s Great Leap Forward, in which untold millions starved to death, as a minor patch of bad planning. The brutal 1950 invasion and subsequent occupation of Tibet? Nary a mention. And aren't they still questioning whether Mao Zedong (
If it's so hard to decide, maybe they should just draw lots.
Heard or read something particularly objectionable about Taiwan? Johnny wants to know: firstname.lastname@example.org is the place to reach me, with "Dear Johnny" in the subject line.
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