Let's face it: whatever happens in today's debate, cable news will proclaim US President George W. Bush the winner. This will reflect the political bias so evident during the party conventions. It will also reflect the undoubted fact that Bush does a pretty good Clint Eastwood imitation. \nBut what will the print media do? Let's hope they don't do what they did four years ago. \nInterviews with focus groups just after the first 2000 debate showed vice president Al Gore with a slight edge. Post-debate analysis should have widened that edge. After all, during the debate, Bush told one whopping lie after another -- about his budget plans, about his supposed prescription drug proposal and more. The fact-checking in the next day's papers should have been devastating. \nBut front-page coverage of the 2000 debates emphasized not what the candidates said but their "body language." After the debate, the lead stories said a lot about Gore's sighs, but nothing about Bush's lies. And even the fact-checking pieces "buried inside the newspaper" were, as Adam Clymer delicately puts it, "constrained by an effort to balance one candidate's big mistakes" -- that is, Bush's lies -- "against the other's minor errors." \nThe result of this emphasis on the candidates' acting skills rather than their substance was that after a few days, Bush's defeat in the debate had been spun into a victory. \nThis time, the first debate will be about foreign policy, an area where Bush ought to be extremely vulnerable. After all, his grandiose promises to rid the world of evildoers have all come to naught. \nExhibit A is, of course, Osama bin Laden, whom Bush promised to get "dead or alive," then dropped from his speeches after a botched operation at Tora Bora let him get away. And it's not just bin Laden: most analysts believe that al-Qaeda, which might have been crushed if Bush hadn't diverted resources and attention to the war in Iraq, is as dangerous as ever. \nThere's also North Korea, which Bush declared part of the "axis of evil," then ignored when its regime started building nuclear weapons. Recently, when a reporter asked Bush about reports that North Korea has half a dozen bombs, he simply shrugged. \nMost important, of course, is Iraq, an unnecessary war, which -- after initial boasts of victory -- has turned into an even worse disaster than the war's opponents expected. \nThe Kerry campaign is making hay over Bush's famous flight-suit stunt, but for me, Bush's worst moment came two months later, when he declared: "There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on." When they really did come on, he blinked: US forces -- obviously under instructions to hold down casualties at least until November -- have ceded much of Iraq to the insurgents. \nDuring the debate, Bush will try to cover for this dismal record with swagger, and with attacks on his opponent. Will the press play Karl Rove's game by, as Clymer puts it, confusing political coverage with drama criticism, or will it do its job and check the candidates' facts? \nThere have been some encouraging signs lately. There was a disturbing interlude in which many news organizations seemed to accept false claims that Iraq had calmed down after the transfer of sovereignty. But now, as the violence escalates, they seem willing to ask hard questions about Bush's fantasy version of the situation in Iraq. For example, a recent Reuters analysis pointed out that independent sources contradict his assertions about everything "from police training and reconstruction to preparations for January elections." \nBush is also getting less of a free ride than he used to when he smears his opponent. Last week, after Bush declared that Senator John Kerry "would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today," the Associated Press pointed out that this "twisted his rival's words" -- and then quoted what Kerry actually said. \nNonetheless, tonight there will be a temptation to revert to drama criticism -- to emphasize how the candidates looked and acted, and push analysis of what they said, and whether it was true, to the inside pages. With so much at stake, the public deserves better.
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At a time when China continues its assertive policy toward its neighboring countries, the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Bhutan last month to resolve a longstanding border dispute. However, this is not the first time China and Bhutan have taken such efforts on this issue. Over the years, China has expanded its claim over territory in Bhutan. China claims over 764km2 of Bhutan’s territory, which includes Doklam, Sinchulung, Dramana and Shakhatoe in the northwestern region and the Pasamlung and Jakarlung Valleys in the central part of Bhutan. Although the two sides held
Among the voices expressing concern for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai (彭帥) over the past two weeks, one was barely audible — that of her long-time former doubles partner Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇). Following their defeat in the WTA Finals championship match in Mexico on Nov. 18, Taiwan’s Hsieh and her Belgian partner Elise Mertens fielded questions via a Zoom call. Chinese state media had just released an incredibly suspicious e-mail, purportedly from Peng, and Canadian tennis Web site Open Court broached the issue. With the entire tennis world chiming in, seeking Hsieh’s opinion seemed obvious. However, the Web site’s reporter prefaced her question
At the Sixth Plenary Session of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 19th Central Committee, held earlier this month, attendees passed the “Resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party Over the Past Century.” The resolution divides the CCP’s rule of China into three historical phases. The first phase was led by Mao Zedong (毛澤東), who enabled Chinese to “stand up.” The second phase occurred during the tenure of Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), who enabled China to “become rich.” The third phase began with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), who