Saturday, June 24, 2006

President Chen and Bush

Via Battlepanda, I see Dymaxion World believes there are similarities between Chen and Bush. I have heard this before. Based on what? Yes, they both have low poll numbers, but is every unpopular world leader one and the same? Some have made the case that Chen doesn't know how to compromise and acts impulsively, and this is like Bush. I don't know; someone else with more experience of Chen's behavior over the last several years can comment on this.

Where I believe their surface-level similarities end is this:
A secret CIA-Treasury program to track financial records of millions of Americans is the latest installment in an expansion of executive authority in the name of fighting terrorism. The administration doesn't apologize for President Bush's aggressive take on presidential powers. Vice President Dick Cheney even boasts about it.

Bush has made broad use of his powers, authorizing warrantless wiretaps, possibly collecting telephone records on millions of Americans, holding suspected terrorists overseas without legal protections and using up to 6,000 National Guard members to help patrol the border with Mexico.

That's in addition to the vast anti-terrorism powers Congress granted him in the recently extended Patriot Act (AP).
Chen doesn't have those powers. I would argue that some of his opponents, the very ones that are thrusting the recall on Taiwan's public, have more of a history of wielding the kind of powers that Bush and Cheney are securing for the White House.

Another difference is that the media--and of course there are exceptions, such as this AP article--are generally supportive of Bush, even as he and his policies sink into the mire of unpopularity. His myriad scandals are flashes of lightning followed by little thunder. That is because the establishment, the big donors, the powerful, are behind him.

In Taiwan, the establishment is against Chen. He is guilty because one or more of his relatives might be guilty, and many of the charges come from a single KMT lawmaker. It is hard to turn on the television in Taiwan without plunging directly into the non-stop babble of pundits--so similar to their American brethren--screaming Chen's son-in-law, Chen's wife, Chen's doctor.

I think a more apt comparison would be with Bill Clinton.


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