Thursday, July 31, 2008

It’s all part of making sure that our foreign policy is active

In advance of his last presidential visit to Asia, Bush was interviewed back to back yesterday by miscellaneous Asian print media, by Korean tv, Thai tv, and by one...wait for it... Fuqing Yang of Chinese state-run tv.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD WITH HIM: “I’ll see the Prime Minister of Thailand for a nice dinner.”

He’ll also be making a speech in Thailand in his capacity as Reminder-in-Chief: “I will also remind people that I will be sprinting to the finish, that I will finish this job strong.”

WHY GEORGE WON’T ATTEMPT TO GO STRAIGHT: “Part of the reason that I’m stopping in South Korea prior to going to the Olympics -- I mean, one could have attempted just to go straight to the Olympics, but I want to come to South Korea -- I had just come from Japan, and it’s all part of making sure that our foreign policy is active.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “There’s plenty of room for countries to work with -- the three countries you mentioned with other countries in the region in a constructive way. In other words, I don’t view the diplomacy as zero sum, it’s got to be either this country or that country.”

NATIONS ARE SAYING WAIT A MINUTE: “ASEAN is a place where the United States can remain -- should remain actively engaged with nations who are saying -- say, wait a minute, we’re your friends, as well. Don’t just focus on the big guys, think about us.”

VERY: “It’s very important for the President to be very consistent.”

BUT THERE’D STILL BE CAKE: “The fact that both countries [the US and China] are honoring the 30th anniversary of the relationship shows that -- it’s a statement about good relations. If we had bad relations we wouldn’t be honoring the 30th. It would be, okay, here comes the 30th anniversary, who cares?”

Both countries are opening new embassies in each other’s capitals. Bush doesn’t know the name of the architect of the American embassy but does know the name of the architect of the Chinese embassy... I.M. Pei.

GETTING INVOLVED: “I know it’s important for our generals and admirals to deal with their counterparts. And I believe, more importantly, or as importantly, we ought to be getting younger Chinese officers involved with younger U.S. officers. Why? To create a feeling of trust.”

AND AN ALMOST FANATICAL DEVOTION TO THE POPE: “An American President has got to know two things: one, the nature of the person he’s dealing with, and the nature of the government he’s dealing with, and the pressures that government feels.”

AND THE EASTER BUNNY: “As you know, I’m a believer in human dignity and human rights.”

SPEAKING OF WORDS NOT OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH GEORGE BUSH: “And if we do we’ll be gracious in victory, and if we don’t we’ll be humble in defeat.”

ONE OF GEORGE’S CONCERNS: “See, one of my concerns is that we -- that America gets so comfortable they say, who cares; what does it matter whether or not somebody has got HIV/AIDS?”

IN OTHER WORDS: “One thing that interests me is to watch China’s leaders deal with the benefits and challenges of a marketplace. In other words, this is a country that has got a lot of mouths to feed and a lot of people to employ.”

THAT POOR, POOR INTERPRETER: “And yet, I can report to you that we [he and Hu Jintao] do have cordial, relaxed conversations -- in spite of the fact that we both have interpreters. It’s much easier when you are dealing with a person that speaks your own language. Since the only one I speak is English, it’s important to have English speakers. But here is a man who I have had some -- I feel comfortable talking about his family, and he asks about mine. And that may sound trite to you, but nevertheless it’s a part of getting comfortable with each other.” You’ll have noticed he’s forgotten that he’s supposed to know Spanish.

WHAT AMAZES GEORGE: “You know the thing that amazes me? The South Korean women golfers.”

ON NORTH KOREA, GEORGE UTTERS A ZEN KOAN: “There’s a lot of people in this country saying, why are you going forward when you can’t trust them? And my answer is, why don’t we go forward with a process that will enable us to trust them?”

WHAT GEORGE FINDS INTERESTING ABOUT HIMSELF: “It’s interesting that I’m giving a speech about the whole Far East in Thailand.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “Well, because it’s -- first of all, the assumption is that when you give a comprehensive speech in the Far East, it would be in, you know, China or Japan or, you know -- and Thailand is, one, a long-time friend; two, is an important part of ASEAN. In other words, there’s -- the Far East is more than just the countries that dominate the news.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “And so, therefore, if you’re going to give a comprehensive speech, you give it in a country that makes it -- just by the sight alone indicates how comprehensive the policy must be. In other words, you can’t ignore other countries if you focus only on a few.”

WHAT THE THAI PEOPLE WERE AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN: “The Thai -- the Thai people were just fabulous, and always have been.”

ASKED WHAT HE WOULD DO AFTER JANUARY: “Hopefully I will contribute to mankind in positive ways.” Maybe as an organ donor.

THE SPORTSMAN COMETH: “And I’m coming as the president of a friend, and I’m coming as a sportsman.”

BUT MOST OF ALL, HE’S COMING FOR THE FREE GRUB: “I’m going to have a dinner with President Hu Jintao, who I like.”

He reminisced about visiting China in 1975: “People -- I can remember going to a department store, and nobody had seen a Westerner. And they were amazed when I would go. And I would go with my mother and my sister. And they were amazed. It was like we were, like, from a different planet.”

Yes, very like that. Very like that indeed.

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