Chen Shui-bian is Laughing at Us from the Window of the Presidential Palace
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 3, 2008
The Chen administration is usually not referred to as the Chen administration, but as the "Bian administration." The Chen Hsieh rivalry is usually not referred to as the Chen Hsieh rivalry, but as the "Bian Hsieh rivalry." The media long ago became accustomed to referring to Chen Shui-bian as "Bian" instead of his surname "Chen."
This manner of address may well be unique. The media never referred to Lee Teng-hui as "Hui." Nor is it likely ever to refer to the Ma administration as the "Jiu administration."
Chen Shui-bian will henceforth be known simply as "Bian." The word "Bian" is the most distinctive character in his name. It captures the essense of Chen Shui-bian, in form, in sound, and in meaning. The nicknames "A-Bian," "Bian Zai," and "Bian" have a ring to them, a folksy feeling. They have a rustic air about them. The nickname "Bian" can mean that Chen Shui-bian has been shaped involuntarily by outside forces, that he was flattened after being stepped on. It can also mean that he lacks depth, that he lacks a fixed shape, that he is not "foursquare," but instead can be molded into any shape required.
Ironically this sums up Chen Shui-bian's character. He has a knack for sensing the public mood and for exploiting the dark side of human nature. He knows how to manipulate that dark side, how to incite grass roots discontent, how to exploit that discontent to subvert right and wrong. That is his essence. It is impossible for him to masquerade as a responsible national leader. His chameleon like character compels him to act out victimization dramas, to prove that he is the victim, when obviously he is the victimizer.
In the popular imagination the earth has two universal meanings. One. The earth is our mother. It nurtures us and gives us life. Two. Buried deep within the bowels of the earth is a dark realm known as Hell. Chen Shui-bian is a person who has transformed life on earth into a living hell.
Chen Shui-bian has occupied the office of the president, the highest office in the land, for eight years. During these eight long years he has revealed his true character. Chen character represents a peculiar sort of evil, an infantile evil. To cover up their roles in the State Confidential Expenses scandal, First Lady Wu Shu-chen used phony invoices. Chen Shui-bian invoked a transparently phony "Southern Front." The manner in which they attempted to cover up their corruption, is the manner in which some rural precinct chief would cover up his corruption. This lies they told are the kind of lies a kindergarten student tells. When Chen Shui-bian linked his UN Plebiscites with the ROC Presidential Election, he prayed that Washington would look the other way and forgive his antics as "election rhetoric." He hoped Beijing would make angry threats. He hoped the public on Taiwan would polarize itself into two camps. These are the kinds of amateurish stunts some ward heeler would pull, all the while fancying himself a Sunzi or a Clausewitz. Chen was simply not up to the challenge of balancing the strategic relationship between Beijing, Taipei, and Washington. Therefore when Chen Shui-bian was bad, he appeared bad to the bone. But from another angle, he may simply have been taking a few short cuts.
As a result, the public on Taiwan has been of two minds about A Bian. Nativists have long shouted "Way to go, A Bian!" Whereas the opposition has long shouted "Down with A Bian!"
After eight years in office however, Chen Shui-bian has been triply damned. He has been damned by the Democratic Progressive Party, he has been damned by the Taiwan independence movement, and he has been damned by political reformers. One. He was shamelessly corrupt. That goes without saying. Two. He has betrayed the Taiwan independence movement. He has thoroughly undermined the Taiwan independence movement's moral and political legitimacy. Three. He has betrayed political reform by engaging in ruthless political intrigue. He has betrayed constitutional government, the rule of law, even society's fundamental standards of right and wrong. He has set a negative example, persuading some segments of society that winning is everything and the end justifies the means. Chen Shui-bian is the embodiment not of constitutional rule, but of Machievellian deceit. Democracy to him is nothing more than a tool of deception. This is how A Bian and the DPP have lost the hearts and minds of the people.
In 2000, Blue camp support was divided between Lien Chan and James Soong, enabling Chen Shui-bian to squeak into the presidential office. At the time Chen promoted a "New Centrist Path." Before and after he was sworn in to office, he paid visits to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, he presented a wreath at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial, he openly paid indirect homage to Chinese national unity by swearing to "defend to the death the Republic of China." As we can see, Chen Shui-bian is a highly malleable piece of clay, capable of assuming any shape. But poor performance and pressure from Taiwan independence forces caused him to backslide. During his 2004 reelection campaign, he returned to demagoguing "Rectification of Names and Authoring of a New Constitution." He illegally linked plebiscites to the presidential election, determined to tear the nation apart merely so he could be reelected.
Chen Shui-bian's real downfall began in 2004, following his "reelection by a 30,000 vote margin." His "Bulletgate" election ploy caused voters to lose confidence in him and the system. The "Bulletgate" incident was highly suspicious. Even Vice President Annette Lu does not believe the government's conclusions. When this all too convenient incident happened to Chen Shui-bian, a habitual practitioner of political dirty tricks, the public had good reason to suspect its veracity. They concluded that "Without the truth, we have no president." They concluded that Chen was a "counterfeit president."
Thereafter, a bizarre succession of corruption cases broke, like explosions in an illegal fireworks factory. The economy became mired in depression. Entire families committing suicide by starting charcoal fires or jumping from buildings became routine news. To avoid political responsibility and legal prosecution, Chen Shui-bian attempted to save his own hide by trumpeting Taiwan independence, by reaching out to "Nativists" and immersing himself in "Nativism."
First Chen Shui-bian used the "Rectification of Names and the Authoring of a New Constitution" to consolidate support from Deep Greens, using them to shield himself from reformist elements within the DPP. Then Chen demolished the plaque on the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Ceremonial Gateway, slandered Chiang Kai-shek's reputation, purged traces of Chiang Kai-shek's legacy, and illegally linked his plebiscites to the legislative and presidential elections. He hijacked DPP legislators, the legislative elections, and the presidential election. His modus operandi was clear. Use Taiwan independence to polarize the DPP and the nation, in order shield himself from prosecution and evade justice.
The nickname "Bian" is as rustic as the land it comes from. It befits someone billed as the "Son of Taiwan." Does anyone remember that? Chen Shui-bian proclaimed himself the "Son of Taiwan," the rightful heir to 400 years of blood and tears, the embodiment of "Taiwanese values." But Taiwan has awoken from its pipe dream. The "Son of Taiwan" has become the "Shame of Taiwan." Chen has tarnished that 400 year heritage. Chen has nullified the Democratic Progressive Party's claim to the "Nativist" crown. Chen has discredited the DPP nomenklatura Chen has inflicted deep and lasting damage on Taiwan as a whole. The "Son of Taiwan" has become the "Prodigal Son of Taiwan," the wasteful playboy who squanders the family fortune. The nickname "A Bian" is no longer a folksy term of affection. It now emits the stink of decay.
In 2000 Lee Teng-hui destroyed the Kuomintang. For this he was drummed out of the KMT. In 2008 Chen Shui-bian destroyed the Democratic Progressive Party. He destroyed the Taiwan independence movement. He destroyed Taiwan. Yet he still presumes the right to determine Taiwan's future. He presumes the right to lead the DPP's reform, and aspires to the party chairmanship. Chen Shui-bian hopes to continue operating between cracks he himself created within his own party. He hopes to use the forces of Taiwan independence to shield himself from the consequences of his own corruption.
Chen Shui-bian is probably standing at the window of the presidential palace right this moment laughing at everyone. Chen Shui-bian likes to laugh at others' gullibility. He laughed at the gullibility of 23 million voters on Taiwan. He laughed at their eagerness to swallow his "Nativist" rhetoric. He laughed at their naive faith in "Taiwan's democracy." He laughed at the comrades in his own party. He laughed at the gullibility of True Believers in the Taiwan independence movement.
2008.04.03 04:05 am