Saturday, April 22, 2006
THAT BIG RED DOOR
atching the Washington Journal call in program on C-SPAN last night reminded me of something I'd wanted to mention here since President Bush's last visit to Beijing. The first hour of last night's program was devoted to the news coverage of the Chinese protester who yelled at President Hu at the White House, and discussion of its possible effects on relations, the importance the Chinese side places on protocol and the amount of honour extended to the Chinese president. Several of the callers brought up President Bush's "gaffe" in Beijing, when he had delivered a speech and then tried to leave the stage through a large, red, and very locked door. It was of course a "gotcha" moment for the media, which replayed the tape many times during that period for maximum presidential embarrassment. A few of the "don't support President Bush" callers last night surmised that the Chinese protester at the White House had actually been planted by the administration to embarrass President Hu, and to get even for the locked door incident last year.
This is of course a pretty stupid conspiracy theory, but fairly standard fare for Bush haters. In fact, when the media was making much of Bush's supposed ineptness for yanking on that locked door, all over Asia people were seeing a different video clip of President Bush, on the very same stage, opening that very same big, red door, and exiting through it. The clip was part of a montage of news events in an advertisement for StarTV News (StarTV comes out of Hong Kong). You see, Mr. Bush had been in Beijing some months earlier (I forget if it was an APEC summit, or what). He had spoken in the very same venue, and had used the infamous red door to leave the stage. Six months later (or whatever it was), he attempted the very same exit strategy, and it was locked. What a bozo, eh? I don't think so, and neither would any fair minded person. But that was the dominant narrative at the time.
It would surely be interesting to know who decided that the door should be locked the second time around. Something simple, like he wasn't supposed to go that way in the first place, so a functionary decided to lock it the second time? Or was it a conscious plan, knowing that he would go the same way as he did previously, to make him look awkward? Planned or unplanned, we'll probably never know. Most likely it was a simple mistake, and the door was supposed to be unlocked for him. It was probably an innocent error on someone's part, for I would hope the Chinese officials wouldn't stoop so low as to do it intentionally. It most certainly wasn't an example of President Bush's alleged stupidity, as spun repetitiously by the mass American media.