You'd think that a president flat on his back in the polls would find time for some righteous panda-baiting.
But in two cases--Chen Shuibian's hegirah of humiliation and the most recent round of jawboning on the RMB--Washington has passed on two chances for some feel-good, base-pleasing, high-profile China-bashing.
It is interesting to speculate what foreign policy objective compels President Bush forgo the pleasure of whacking the panda across the snout, at least rhetorically, after his antics during Hu Jintao's visit and the largely successful effort to steal Hu's thunder in Africa with the Darfur peace settlement.
It is difficult to believe that Washington's restraint is reward for expected Chinese cooperation on Iran at the UN. But what else could it be?