Chen Shui-bian, You’re no Thomas Jefferson
From Formosa to Gulag
October 30, 2005
Executive Summary: American interventionists across the political spectrum insist that “Americans have a moral obligation to come to the military defense of Taiwan because Taiwan upholds sacrosanct American values of freedom and human rights.” American interventionists are wrong on both counts. One, even assuming the ruling regime on Taiwan was a principled upholder of freedom and human rights, its military defense would nevertheless be its own responsibility, not the responsibility of foreigners. Two, the ruling regime on Taiwan is not an upholder of freedom and human rights. Not by a long shot. The unelected US puppet regime on Taiwan is composed of right wing fascists whose highest priority is not freedom and human rights, but “Taiwanese” identity politics and “Taiwanese” nation-building. For them, the ends justifies the means. For them, insincere mechanical lip service to freedom and human rights serves to gain international sympathy for their cause, nothing more. Their leader, Chen Shui-bian, has made a habit of quoting Thomas Jefferson’s famous remark about preferring a free press to government. That however was before Chen Shui-bian and his fellow Taiwan independence Quislings became the government. Now that Chen Shui-bian and his fellow Taiwan independence Quislings are the government, it’s “L’etat, c’est moi,” and “Vox Chen, Vox Dei.”
President Chen Shui-bian yesterday reiterated his staunch resolution to protect the freedom of press, quoting former US president Thomas Jefferson, saying that he would choose media over government. Chen said he knows personally the injustice of an unfree media. In [an] article entitled “From Gulag to Formosa,” Chen said that it takes extraordinary courage to criticize a totalitarian regime, whereas democratic countries blossom freely because they are not “Gulag Islands.” “Though there have been quite a few shortcomings in Taiwan’s democratization process, the transfer of political power set free the `Gulag’ in everyone’s mind.” Chen paraphrased Jefferson’s famous remark, saying, “If I had to make a choice, to choose the government without the press or to have the press but without the government, I will select the latter without hesitation.” Chen also quoted Formosa magazine, which once wrote “Dark nights cannot last long, the tide will change mightily.”
— “President seeks to assure public he is all for a free media,” Taipei Times, March 29, 2002
Over the years, Chen Shui-bian has made a habit of quoting American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson on the issue of freedom of the press. The above mentioned incident in 2002 is neither the first time nor the last time Chen has attempted to bask in the light from Thomas Jefferson’s halo.
The only problem is, Chen Shui-bian is no Thomas Jefferson. Not even close.
During the 1988 US presidential campaign, Republican vice-presidential candidate Dan Quayle told Democratic vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen that “I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency.”
Bentsen snorted in response, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
Bentsen’s rhetorically devastating comeback was something of a cheapshot. After all, Quayle was not claiming to be the equal of Jack Kennedy. Quayle was merely claiming that he had the same amount of experience as Kennedy when Kennedy ran for president.
Chen Shui-bian on the other hand, has been mendaciously pretending to share the same reverence for press freedom as the great Thomas Jefferson, and that even if press freedom threatened him personally, he would defend it to the death. Chen’s pretense is an insult to the memory of Thomas Jefferson, and an insult to the intelligence of the Chinese people on Taiwan.
As a champion of the Jeffersonian principle that those people are governed best who are governed least, I am tempted to respond to Chen Shui-bian by saying, “A-Bian, I am a student of Thomas Jefferson’s political philosophy. I studied Thomas Jefferson’s writings. Thomas Jefferson is a hero of mine. A-Bian, you’re no Thomas Jefferson.”
As famed investigative journalist and 1972 Pulitzer Prize winner Jack Anderson noted, even when Jefferson was being pilloried by America’s free press, he refused to betray his principles by demanding or imposing censorship:
The need for the press to occupy an adversary role was clear to America’s founding fathers. That is why they made freedom of the press the first guarantee of the Bill of Rights. Without press freedom, they knew, the other freedoms would fall. For government, by its nature, tends to oppress. And government, without a watchdog, would soon oppress the people it was created to serve. Thomas Jefferson, that wise man, that sophisticated man, that cultured man, that rich man … a plantation owner … understood. He was savaged by the press … excoriated by the press … abused more by the press than Bill Clinton, or Richard Nixon, or anybody in recent times. He didn’t like it. He said to one Philadelphia paper: “Nothing in this paper is true, with the possible exception of the advertising, and I question that.” And yet Thomas Jefferson said, “If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.”
How, by contrast, have Chen Shui-bian and his allegedly “democratic” and “progressive” DPP responded to growing media criticism?
According to an October 29, 2005 Taiwan News news article entitled “DPP lawmakers accuse TVBS of being funded by PRC capital — GIO to suspend licence if station found to have hidden ownership change,” lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party yesterday demanded the closure of TVBS Cable TV, the very day after a TVBS talk show presented evidence pointing to former national policy adviser Chen Che-nan as a key figure in the Kaohsiung MRT scandal, and Chen Shui-bian’s possible involvement because of their close relationship.
The TVBS talk show [“21:00, The People Speak”] made public a photo of Chen Che-nan visiting a casino on Cheju island in South Korea in 2002, causing great embarrassment for the illegal Chen regime and the DPP, as Chen Che-nan had already denied visiting South Korea.
Accusing the station of being financed by capital from mainland China and collaborating with the mainland Chinese government to topple the “Taiwan” government, Government Information Office Minister Pasuya Yao threatened to suspend TVBS’s license to operate in Taiwan.
KMT caucus whip Pan Wei-kang said the DPP appears to be trying to cover up for officials involved in the scandal. TVBS spokesman Yeh Yu-chun said the GIO had looked into TVBS’ financial structure six months ago and found nothing wrong with it.
In other words, according to Chen Shui-bian and the DPP, the public shouldn’t concern itself with whether the Chen regime ripped off ROC taxpayers to the tune of billions of their hard-earned dollars. Instead, the public should concern itself with who embarrassed the Chen regime, and join Chen and Taiwan’s Quisling nomenklatura in denouncing them as “Chinese Communist agents.”
According to an October 30, 2005 Taipei Times news article entitled “GIO readies the blowtorch for TVBS,” [sic!] Government Information Office Minister Pasuya Yao yesterday said that the GIO is authorized to suspend all operation licenses for TVBS’s four channels. The GIO levied a NT$200,000 fine on TVBS after a well-known and widely watched talkshow on TVBS alleged that a number of top government officials were corrupt, including former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Chen Che-nan.
Yao denied there was any connection between the allegations and the probe into TVBS.
Asked whether TVBS regarded the GIO’s action as akin to “white terror” and a retaliation against its allegations of official graft, Yeh said “We still want to believe that truth and justice still exist.”
Translation: “We no longer believe that truth and justice exist under the DPP’s Taiwan independence Green Terror, but what can we do except hope, against all evidence to the contrary, that someone in the DPP’s rubber stamp judiciary will develop a conscience?”
Chen has paid lip service to freedom of the press. He has quoted Thomas Jefferson. He has insisted that he would choose media over government. He has waxed poetic about transitioning “From Gulag to Formosa.”
So much for talking the talk. But what about walking the walk?
Chen has conducted Gestapo raids on newspapers and searches of reporters’ homes, alleging “violations of national security.” He has betrayed Thomas Jefferson’s ideals by choosing ominipotent government over an untrammeled media. Far from leading the Chinese people on Taiwan “From Gulag to Formosa,” he has led them “From Formosa to Gulag.”
Chen Shui-bian, you’re no Thomas Jefferson. Taiwan independence Quislings, you’re no champions of human rights and political liberty. And Americans have no obligation whatsoever, moral, legal, or otherwise, to defend such a corrupt and unregenerate political regime.
The consolation for the Chinese people on Taiwan, ironically, is that “Dark nights cannot last long, the tide will change mightily.”