Friday, April 21, 2006

Paging Maltese Security: More About that FLG Blip on the White House Lawn

In the course of cataloging the Bush administration’s series of intentional and unintentional slights to Hu Jintao, the Washington Post reveals that the White House security apparatus does not wish to be judged by the rigorous standards of…Malta (emphasis added):

But as protocol breaches go, it's hard to top the heckling of a foreign leader at the White House. Explaining the incident -- the first disruption at the executive mansion in recent memory -- White House and Secret Service officials said she was "a legitimate journalist" and that there was nothing suspicious in her background. In other words: Who knew?

Hu did. The Chinese had warned the White House to be careful about who was admitted to the ceremony. To no avail: They granted a one-day pass to Wang Wenyi of the Falun Gong publication Epoch Times. A quick Nexis search shows that in 2001, she slipped through a security cordon in Malta protecting Jiang (she had been denied media credentials) and got into an argument with him. The 47-year-old pathologist is expected to be charged today with attempting to harass a foreign official.

What the article reveals is a pattern of intentional Bush administration behavior meant to exhibit its lofty disdain for the Chinese Communist Party regime.

There are strategic and political reasons for giving Hu less than a warm welcome. We also can't rule out the demands of President Bush's ego. He does not like to acknowledge equals or near-equals on the world stage, and China's unwillingness to acknowledge absolute US pre-eminence on Iraq, Iran, and other issues is surely a sore point.

Add to this the fact that Bush’s brief visit to China last year did not go well. The lasting memory of that trip is the historic series of photographs on the front page of the New York Times of Bush trying to blunder through a locked door trying to escape unwanted questions.

Given what we know of Bush’s prickly pride, maybe he passed the word that he wanted Hu to have as unpleasant a visit in Washington as Bush had experienced in Beijing.

Whether or not the campaign to discomfit China included maliciously admitting a known Falun Gong activist into Hu Jintao’s presence, or whether the climate of hostility to China simply encouraged some cavalier White House grunt to engage in a piece of free-lance anti-diplomacy, perhaps awaits the revelations obtained by our bulldog White House press corps.

Another great line from the article:

It took so long to silence her -- a full three minutes -- that Bush aides began to wonder if the Secret Service's strategy was to let her scream herself hoarse.

It’s rather remarkable that we live in a burgeoning national security state dedicating to pre-empting threats before they occur, but when someone apparently becomes unhinged and starts screaming in front of the president, it takes three minutes for the Secret Service to get the memo and move in on her.

Maybe the War on Terror has burned them out and we need some fresh blood.

Paging Maltese security!

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