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Monster versus Monster: The Democratic Race

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I don’t think that Samantha Power should have needed to resign from her post as an advisor to Senator Barack Obama after calling his opponent, Hillary Clinton, “a monster.” Far from it; hers was a refreshing breath of fresh air – perhaps the most candor we have heard in American politics since George H.W. Bush called Ronald Reagan’s platform “voodoo economics.”

Of course, it’s not that I’m against Clinton in the Democrats’ nominating race. Rather instead, I am against both of them. If Mike Gravel has not dropped out yet, then I am in favor of his candidacy.

I myself was a general election candidate in 1984; I was the independently running teenager who turned 18 while campaigning for U.S. President. Perhaps there was more candor in politics, between Bush’s 1980 comment and Power’s monster comment of 2008. In 1984, I said, “There are very few people in this nation who could do a worse job as President than Ronald Reagan – Walter Mondale is one of those few.”

So it seems that in my eyes, 1984 was also a “monster versus monster” race, and that it needed a third choice – the 18-year-old alternative candidate. In 1989, I was 22 years old at a time when college students stood up – and were shot down – at Tiananmen Square in Beijng, China. Given the wide sympathy that China’s student-led pro-democracy movement engendered, the impulse was there for America to launch the China Support Network. I just happened to be the fastest one (the first) to name it, draft founding documents, and promulgate the China Support Network (CSN).

Since 1989, I have remained CSN’s leader, closely tied in with leading Chinese dissidents in exile. Despite my loss in 1984, I gained a nuclear-armed, communist superpower as an issue to work with in my in box. We will be rallying on the Boston Common at midday on March 30, and I will go on a speaking tour throughout April. (Does it seem odd to protest in 2008 an event of 1989? –In fact, the activism is timely now due to the upcoming Beijing Olympics, which are slated to open August 8 this year.)

I could be disappointed in Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in two ways. But for civilian human rights campaigners like my CSN group, America is missing any fitting response to Tiananmen Square – an atrocity and a crime against humanity that I have described as huge, epic, monumental, egregious, and not to be forgotten by history. (Some 3,000 people were killed as the Chinese army retook Tiananmen Square.) In the 1990s, mainstream news continued to cover ongoing abuses of human rights in China. Since the 2000 PNTR trade deal with China, that same mainstream news has dropped the human rights issue and coverage of many abuses in China. For the American viewers, this casts a false impression that human rights are better in China.

Really, the news media should answer for their vast violation of estoppel. Their inconsistent narrative has flipped, from “communism as bad” in the Cold War to “communism as good,” a line which seems to be implicit in narratives of “China as our best friend.” However, this conceit in the news media is in keeping with the profoundly flawed and faulty U.S. foreign policy. –Let me get this straight: In the 1980s, a nuclear-armed, communist superpower was a bad thing. Then, on the heels of an atrocity and a crime against humanity, China deserves reward, and a nuclear-armed, communist superpower is a good thing. –It is not only the media; it is America’s politicians who must answer for a vast violation of estoppel.

I mentioned that I can be disappointed in Obama and Clinton for America’s missing response to Tiananmen Square. But, they are only the latest in a lineage of leaders who failed to have a backbone with China. Who has been in the White House ever since Tiananmen Square? George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Either they are sociopathically sanguine with tyranny, repression, and mass murder – or else they should be termed “wuss bunnies of moral cowardice.” In my speech at last year’s Tiananmen anniversary, I called them wuss bunnies.

Now, Samantha Power has added a new vocabulary term to my lexicon, and I realize that monsters have been President throughout my adult lifetime. In some fairness, I realize that neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton voted for China’s PNTR trade deal in 2000. They should be served with notice that Chinese dissidents and the China Support Network were against that trade deal; our vigorous campaigning was met with media censorship. (Monsters in the media is a separate topic, not in the scope of this article.)

Because I was once a U.S. political candidate – indeed, the first of Generation X – I can step back from my China activism for a wider, if brief, look at America’s political situation. During the current President’s term of office, there have been violations of the U.S. Constitution, International Law, the Geneva Conventions, and the Law of Armed Conflict. When people have eyes to see, George Bush and his Vice President, Dick Cheney, should be impeached.

And there is my second disappointment with Obama and Clinton. Neither of them is calling for impeachment in the face of these clear cut violations which are far more serious grounds for impeachment. –More serious than any dalliance with Monica Lewinski. More serious even than Watergate. Would Obama and Clinton like to defend the Constitution, or would they rather inherit the expansion of executive branch powers to become new precedents for how much U.S. Presidents can get away with?

They are reaching for the presidency. On China policy, they are not siding with Chinese dissidents, and on America policy, they are not siding with those who would defend the Constitution through impeachment, the obvious remedy. With that sort of political positioning, they are both monsters, unworthy of achieving the highest office in the land. Perhaps they will change things up before the general election; or else, perhaps I will stay at home and sit out this election of monster versus monster.

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The author was once the 18-year-old candidate for U.S. President ('84) and later the founder of the China Support Network, post-Tiananmen Square.
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