Just What Are James Soong's Intentions?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 19, 2010
James Soong has thrown his support behind Yang Chiu-hsing. He is attempting to persuade voters to "dump Huang to save Yang." He either wants to split the Blue Camp, or to ensure that Yang is elected.
But given the bigger picture, such tactics may not guarantee Yang Chiu-hsing's victory. The move has already led to a complete break between Ma and Soong, and may ensure that Chen Chu is elected.
The reasons are simple. James Soong's move will leave the KMT with even less room to maneuver. Now all the KMT can do, is limit the damage James Soong has inflicted upon the Blue Camp. Soong has clearly made his play. His is attempting to "dump Huang to save Yang" in Kaohsiuing. He has blasted Hau Lung-ping for "failure to make Taipei look like a national capital." Soong has already precipitated a complete schism. This forces the KMT to back Huang Chao-shun in Kaohsiung to the bitter end. The KMT now has no choice but to prevent the "James Soong factor" from spreading to Taipei and Xinbei City. If the situation persists, if both Huang and Yang remain in the race to the very end, if both manage to retain over 10% of their diehard supporters, then Huang Chao-hsun stands no chance of getting elected. James Soong's attempt to ensure that Yang gets elected will fail. Therefore James Soong's move is really intended to split the Blue Camp. His attempt to get Yang elected is merely a pretext
The real problem is that Blue Camp voters no longer have the same opinion of James Soong they once did. Any attempt to promote a "dump/save effect" in Kaohsiung hinges on Pan Blue voters' desire to bring down Chen Chu. But this collective desire rests on the premise of "Blue Camp solidarity." James Soong's attempt to exploit this "dump/save effect" involves flagrant attempts to discredit Ma and Hao. These may be unacceptable to most Blue Camp voters. Therefore Soong's attempt to play the "dump/save card" may on the one hand incite "defeat Chen Chu above all else" sentiment among Blue Camp voters. They may intensify support for Yang Chiu-hsing. They may on the other hand may provoke intense Blue Camp voter anger against James Soong, and persuade them to support Huang to the bitter end. Another possibility is that such offensive tactics may alienate them so badly they boycott the election altogether. These are all reasons why Soong's attempt to persuade voters to "dump Huang to save Yang" may not succeed.
With this "shot in the arm," Yang Chiu-hsing may have overplayed his hand. He has forced the KMT's hand. Now there is no turning back. The KMT must now fight him to the end. Yang's move will inevitably provoke a backlash. It will inevitably incite Blue Camp anger against a common enemy. Also, the Chen Chu camp, seeing Soong and Yang come together, is bound to point to this move and attempt to dissuade Green Camp voters from dumping Chen Chu to save Yang. This will reduce Yang's final vote count. Therefore, once the dust settles, Yang Chiu-hsing may find that his piece of the pie has actually shrunk. The Blue Camp initially had a chance to play the "dump/save card" in the Greater Kaohsiung election. But James Soong's move has mired the Blue Camp in a deadlock.
This is not the first time James Soong has sprung such a surprise. His February 24, 2005 "Bian/Soong meeting" was a classic case. The purpose of the "Bian/Soong meeting" was to "dump the KMT to save the PFP." Soong's methods have not changed. First, he wanted to split the Blue Camp. Secondly, he wanted the People First Party and Chen Shui-bian to agree to "DPP/PFP co-rule." Eventually the "Bian/Soong meeting" led to James Soong's downfall. Why? Because voters disapproved of James Soong's attempt to "sell out the Blue Camp for selfish gain." Even People First Party legislators were troubled. James Soong overestimated his personal charm. In the end, he was forced to withdraw in disgrace.
James Soong's image is not what it used to be. It is no longer what it was years ago. Therefore persuading voters to "dump Huang to save Yang" will be correspondingly difficult. When Soong lashed out, he immediately impacted the larger political picture. Even Hau Lung-bin was dragged in. Soong's public pronouncements will inevitably become increasingly intemperate. This of course will affect the feelings of Blue Camp voters. Some may agree with Soong. But others may become even more contemptuous of him. In short, for Blue Camp voters, this is highly emotional matter. The impact of Soong's move is not limited to "dump Huang to save Yang" in Kaohsiung. It is bound to impact every one of the five cities elections. It is bound to impact the Ma administration's 2012 re-election bid.
In the twenty years since martial law was lifted, the most prominent feature of politics on Taiwan has been "trickery above all." As a result, political moves are never rooted in moral principles, but in political calculation. Lee Teng-hui was once "a party chairman and a half." He was full chairman of the KMT, plus a half chairman of the DPP. In the end however, this was also the cause of Lee's downfall. The aforementioned "Bian/Soong meeting" was classic Machiavelli. In the end however, Soong ended up with nothing. Politicians overestimate their own charm. They underestimate the people's intelligence. They come to believe they can perform miracles, that they can control the political weather in a god-like manner. In fact, voters will not necessarily permit themselves to be manipulated. Twenty years of experience since the lifting of martial law has confirmed that those who live by trickery, will die by trickery.
Yang Chiu-hsing recruited James Soong. Has this made it easier for him to play the "dump/save card?" Or more difficult? James Soong has backed Yang Chiu-hsing. Has this destroyed the Blue Camp, or has it destroyed his own image and credibility? Has he helped out Yang Chiu-hsing, or hindered him? The answer will soon become apparent.