Friday, April 08, 2005

Differing Views

"It is genteel treason: of the kind that comes with democratic politics, in which the party of opposition sells out vital national interests in order to improve its electoral position at home -- by promising anxious voters a 'peace in our time' that simply is not available. Chamberlains are, alas, a more natural by-product of electoral politics than Churchills. The latter tend to be selected only once the cliff-edge is crossed. "

I will be in Hualien for three days, so blogging will be light to non-existent. This article by David Warren, on the KMT's backdoor deal with the CCP, seems to me an accurate characterization of that deal.

Still, as with my exchange with Bingfeng Teahouse, the people I find especially interesting are intelligent and articulate people who have a completely different take on the issue. A good Taiwanese friend of mine of several years (strongly pro-KMT blue) told me yesterday he considered Lien Chan to be the only top politician in the country who talks straight and says what he means. "Other leaders of the KMT often used the side doors of the party headquarters, but Lien insists on using only the main door. It's powerful symbolism - he's a straightforward guy." My friend also was lukewarm about the skills of Ma Ying Jeou. Surprisingly, he said he preferred DPP Premier (Frank) Hsieh Chang Ting to Ma. "He's a moderate, he makes compromises happen, and the compromises really work on the ground."

It would take an awful lot to shake my opinion of Lien Chan as one of the truly catastrophic figures of the democratic era in Taiwan. Disingenuousness is sometimes a legitimate tool of the disenfranchised (native Taiwanese, in the domestic context; Taiwan in the international context). Lien's "straightforwardness", such as it is, strikes me as the trait of someone perhaps not very smart, who also has not known a day of his life when he was not one of the privileged few. I must admit, the comment about Hsieh did strike home, though. During the last year, Hsieh's stock has risen (both in my personal estimation and, I suspect, in the electorate),while there are real doubts developing about Ma.