Desperate Fear of an Honest Debate
June 11, 2006
A good rule of thumb in political debate is that you can judge the seriousness of an adversary’s argument by the seriousness with which he treats yours. If he takes you seriously, it means he’s pretty certain he’s got you beat on the merits. But if he resorts to hyperbole, parody, and sarcasm, then he clearly fears an honest debate.
— Eric Alterman
columnist for The Nation, regular contributor to MSNBC
Pan Blue legislators applaud the passage of a motion to recall “President” Chen Shui-bian
The Taipei Times is the English language propaganda organ for the Taiwan independence movement. Taipei Times news reports are often indistinguishable from pro Taiwan independence editorials. Taipei Times editorials meanwhile, are often indistinguishable from the ravings of streetcorner prophets.
But with their sophomorically titled, and even more sophmorically written “Taiwan, Banana Republic of China?” the editors of the Taipei Times have truly outdone themselves.
I have been writing about the Taiwan independence issue for over a decade, since the mid 1990s. I can honestly say that in all that time I have never encountered a pro Taiwan independence editorial as full of hyperbole, parody, and sarcasm as this one.
Read it and decide for yourself whether the editors of the Taipei Times believe they have the Pan Blue opposition beat on the merits of the impeachment and recall controversy, or are terrified of an honest debate?
Read it and decide for yourself whether the editorial doesn’t reveal the desperation Taiwan independence spin controllers must be experiencing, more eloquently than anything a Pan Blue pundit might author?
Published on TaipeiTimes
Editorial: Taiwan, Banana Republic of China?
Friday, Jun 09, 2006
Okay, so let’s imagine for a moment that, all reason having been tossed aside, President Chen Shui-bian succumbs to the demands of the opposition parties and resigns.
Such an event would mark the end of democracy in Taiwan and the beginning of mob rule. Taiwan would be left with a mockery of a political system based on the mercurial whims of the entrenched political elite. Heads of state could be selected and overthrown based on deals made in backrooms, by ever-changing alliances of different political factions.
Of course, such a system would leave the general public with little room to exercise its right to choose its leaders, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Let’s take a page from our comrades in Zhongnanhai. They tell the Chinese people that they aren’t ready for democracy — that it is an ugly affair, which inevitably results in chaos.
Well, aren’t they correct? Isn’t Taiwan chaotic, now that it is a democracy? Isn’t the lawlessness of modern Taiwan terrible? Maybe it isn’t exactly the anarchy depicted in the film The Road Warrior, replete with bike gangs who terrorize the populace — but that’s the logical next step, isn’t it? Oh, the horror of our society. Why, one can’t walk the streets at night without fear of being robbed or killed, right?
Luckily, the opposition parties are trying to do something to counteract the vicious chaos of democracy, with its hideous personal freedoms and its awful system of making the government accountable to the people.
They have devised a better system, in which government officials are held to account by other government officials. They can all keep each other honest together, because nothing is so honest as a politician. The more politicians you have, the more honesty you have — that’s the logic behind all of this.
The people need never be bothered by having to make decisions about their country or its leaders — that’s what the political elite is for. The elite is supposed to control things — that’s what makes them elite. And they should control the people, because the people don’t know how to control themselves — that’s why there is so much chaos in Taiwan.
So the opposition parties can solve all of this by forcing the president out of office. They don’t like him and they don’t want him. And why should they? Just because he was duly elected by a majority of the voters? Just because a fundamental underpinning of democratic systems is the belief that governments exist solely by the consent of the governed?
Well, the opposition parties have shown that they believe Taiwan needs no such confusing, namby-pamby hogwash if it wants to get things done. The opposition parties have a better way — a stronger, simpler way of dealing with the problems of governance.
The opposition parties can ensure that the people will never be upset by having to read stories about government corruption again. After all, they have decades of experience in controlling the media and persecuting critics. If a journalist wants to pester the people by talking about government malfeasance and graft, the solution is simple: shoot her.
Isn’t this what the opposition parties envision for us? Can’t they bring back the heady, halcyon days of orderly, calm, controlled society? Taiwan can once again grow and prosper under the loving care and stern gaze of Big Brother. Surely it’s much more preferable for Taiwan to seek the safety and security of totalitarian rule.
So let’s give three cheers for the opposition and their plan to squash the menace and terror of democracy.
Illegitimate presidential and vice presidential usurpers Chen Shui-bian and Annette Lu
Comment: The truth is I’m reluctant to take too much time out to refute the Taipei Times’ editorial. After all, what could I possibly say that wouldn’t insult the readers’ intelligence? What could I possibly say that wouldn’t imply, however inadvertently, that readers couldn’t see through the Taipei Times’ transparent nonsense without my help?
On the other hand, some readers may be coming into this issue for the first time. These readers may be unfamiliar with Taiwan’s Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass political universe, in which “mei you hei bai, zhi you lan lu” (There is no black and white, there is only blue and green). These readers may not have enough background about the presidential impeachment and recall controversy to realize that the Taipei Times’ editorial is nothing more than the raucous barking of a dog that can’t bite.
These readers deserve a cursory rebuttal. A cursory rebuttal however, is all that is warranted. Anything more would do these readers a disservice, giving them the mistaken impression that the Taipei Times actually presented a case at all.
In fact, the Taipei Times failed to offer a single coherent argument. Instead, it made a string of hysterical allegations and advanced a series of logical non sequiteurs totally unrelated to anything the Pan Blue opposition has said or done.
An American or European reader unfamiliar with Taiwan’s politics, after reading the Taipei Times’ editorial, might be forgiven for concluding that the Pan Blue opposition was a military junta about to stage a Latin American style coup d’etat and march into the Presidential Palace.
In fact, the predominantly middle class, law-abiding to a fault Pan Blue opposition has made its intentions crystal clear. The Pan Blue opposition intends to impeach or recall Chen Shui-bian, entirely within the constitutional framework of the Republic of China, in strict accordance with the Republic of China’s Election and Recall Laws, even though these laws make impeachment or recall nearly impossible.
To impeach Chen, a motion must be initiated by over half of the ROC legislature, endorsed by two-thirds of the ROC legislature, then presented to the 15 member Council of Grand Justices for adjudication.
To recall Chen, a motion must be initiated by over a fourth of the ROC legislature, endorsed by two-thirds of the ROC legislature, then approved by at least half the valid ballots cast by at least half of all eligible voters in a national referendum.
As the editors of the Taipei Times are fully aware, the Pan Blue opposition by itself does not constitute a two-thirds supermajority in the ROC legislature. Without the participation of over 30 Pan Green legislators, the Pan Blue opposition does not have enough votes to recall Chen.
Even if the Pan Blue opposition manages to persuade over 30 Pan Green legislators to side with them against the ruling Pan Green kleptocracy, a successfull recall still requires an absolute majority of at least half of all eligible voters in a national referendum.
Even if the Pan Blue opposition manages to impeach or recall Chen, it has made clear it intends to recognize Chen’s running mate and current “vice president” Annette Lu, as his successor.
Do the editors of the Taipei Times care to explain how having Chen’s own running mate Annette Lu replace him as president, in strict accordance with the provisions of the ROC Constitution and ROC Election and Recall Laws, “marks the end of democracy in Taiwan and the beginning of totalitarian rule?”
Be aware that as a matter of law, the Pan Blue opposition is not obligated to recognize Annette Lu as Chen’s successor. The Pan Blue opposition would be well within its rights to recall both Chen and Lu simultaneously. The Pan Blue opposition’s decision to recall only Chen and not Lu is an act of political discretion, not a legal obligation.
Be aware that as a matter of law, Chen Shui-bian and Annette Lu should not be sitting in the Presidential Palace in the first place. Both are illegitimate usurpers.
Lien Chan and James Soong are the duly elected president and vice president of the Republic of China, having won the 2004 Republic of China Presidential Election by a 53% to 47% margin.
The only reason Lien Chan and James Soong are not currently sitting in the Presidential Palace is that the Bush II regime pulled a fast one on them. On March 27, 2004, it promised to back their demands for a new election, providing they released their political chokehold on Chen.
But once the 500,000 to 1,000,000 strong crowd of Pan Blue and independent citizens dispersed, the US government, the “world’s champion of democracy,” stabbed the democratic majority of ROC voters in the back, disingenuously citing the Central Election Commission’s rubberstamping of Chen’s “election” as the official end of the dispute.
I could painstakingly rebut each and every one of the editorial’s hysterical allegations, one after another.
But is that really necessary?
By now, even readers totally unfamiliar with the Taiwan independence issue should be able to see that the Taipei Times’ uncontrolled apoplexy has nothing to do with anything taking place in the real world.
The editors of the Taipei Times, by resorting to hyperbole, parody, and sarcasm, have revealed that they are in desperate fear of an honest debate.
Considering the sorry plight of today’s Taiwan, the result of the DPP’s much touted “lu se zhi zheng, pin zhi bao zheng!” (Green government, quality guaranteed!) they should be.