Dubyuh's Olympic Interview
Here's a link to the transcript of Dubyuh's interview with Bob Costas yesterday. Here are some excerpts (bolding by me), followed by my comments:
"Q And winning 101 to 70. Our time here is limited. We'll get to as much as we can. The Opening Ceremonies were glorious. There's much to admire about China's people, China's culture, and its present accomplishments. But this remains an authoritarian state
THE PRESIDENT: That's true.
Q -- with an abysmal human rights record. In the long run, is China's rise irreconcilable with America's interests?
THE PRESIDENT: No. In the long run, America better remain engaged with China, and understand that we can have a cooperative and constructive, yet candid relationship. It's really important for future Presidents to understand the relationship between China and the region, and it's important to make sure that America is engaged with China -- even though we may have some disagreements."
ME - What? Ummmm...what about CUBA???
"THE PRESIDENT: ...I've met with Hu Jintao a lot since I have been the President. And, yes, I had a full range -- listen, we agree with them on a lot of things. And we disagree with them on things. And that's the way the relationship is going to be. It needs to be, as I mentioned, constructive and cooperative. "
ME - What? Ummmm...what about CUBA???
"Q But given China's growing strength and America's own problems, realistically how much leverage and influence does the U.S. have here?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I don't see America having problems. I see America as a nation that is a world leader, that has got great values. And leverage is -- I don't think you should look at the relationship as one of leverage. I think you ought to look at the relationship of one of constructive engagement where you can find common areas, like North Korea and Iran, but also be in a position where they respect you enough to listen to your views on religious freedom and political liberty."
ME - Denial much?
"Q If these Olympics are as successful as they are shaping up to be, most people believe this only further legitimizes the ruling party in the minds on most Chinese citizens. And even absent true liberty as we understand it, the lives of hundreds of millions of Chinese people are much better than they once were. Therefore, what's the party's incentive to reform?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, if you're a religious person, you understand that once religion takes hold in a society it can't be stopped. And secondly, I think the Olympics are going to serve as a chance for people to come and see China the way it is, and let the Chinese see the world and interface and have the opportunity to converse with people from around the world. This is a very positive development, in my view, for peace."
ME - ??? Uh what? What does religion have to do with anything Bob Costas said? I'm thinking maybe Costas was supposed to ask a question about religion and for the sake of time skipped it, but Dubyuh had already memorized his answers so he answered a question that wasn't actually asked.
"Q As you attempt to press these points with them, do you find Hu Jintao not just warm toward you personally, but is he receptive? Do you sense any movement?
THE PRESIDENT: It's hard to tell. I mean, it's -- all I can tell you is, is that it is best to be in the position where a leader will listen to you. I went to church here, and I'm sure the cynics say, well, you know, it was just a state-sponsored church. On the other hand -- and that's true. On the other hand, it gave me a chance to say to the Chinese people, religion won't hurt you, you ought to welcome religious people. And it gave me a chance to say to the government, why don't you register the underground churches and give them a chance to flourish? And he listened politely. I can't read his mind, but I do know that every time I met with him I pressed the point. "
ME: I wonder how the translator for Mr. Jintao handled that answer because it's barely coherent in English.
"THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. Yes, there's a great connection. You know, I can remember riding my bike around Beijing in 1975, and it is --
Q Only bikes then, just about.
THE PRESIDENT: -- unbelievable how far this has changed. I mean, it is -- and he feels the same way. And we were honored yesterday when the President, Hu Jintao, invited my dad and me and Laura and my sister and my daughter, my brother, for dinner. It was a -- lunch. It was just a great gesture of kindness."
The mind wobbles...