Obama’s China Trip Failed Everywhere But China

A follow up to “How the Liberal Media Behaves With Abject Obsequiousness to Barack Obama” — now some fellow at Spiegel is jumping into the “Obama’s China trip a failure” pool. Apparently Chris Matthews (and we know how sterling his judgment is) is calling Obama “Carteresque,” meaning weak. Conventional wisdom is saying that Obama is a sock who doesn’t now how to behave around those tough Chinese.

However, people who actually know something about China, especially those living there or who have lived there, are saying just the opposite.

Richard at Peking Duck writes, “The townhall was a triumph, and it is beyond comprehension why the media is determined to brand it – and all other aspects of the trip – a failure.” Well, it’s because that’s what our media does — somebody feeds them a narrative, and they write their news stories around the narrative. And the narrative they settled into is “the China trip failed.” What actually happened is irrelevant.

The townhall event was a live broadcast that went to 100 million Chinese. This is remarkable, because the Chinese government really doesn’t like live broadcasts. But they caved in. Obama spoke to an audience of young people — Communist Party youth, yes. James Fallows quotes a Mandarin speaking businessman who was in China at the time:

But the comment from President Obama that I think will have the most impact inside the firewall was not the one about US principles that you quoted in your followups. It was this one:

‘Now, I should tell you, I should be honest, as President of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn’t flow so freely because then I wouldn’t have to listen to people criticizing me all the time. I think people naturally are — when they’re in positions of power sometimes thinks, oh, how could that person say that about me, or that’s irresponsible, or — but the truth is that because in the United States information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don’t want to hear. It forces me to examine what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis to see, am I really doing the very best that I could be doing for the people of the United States.’

“Wow! As a resident of China for two decades and a Mandarin-speaking China-watcher for three decades, I can say without any doubt that those words will resonate far more deeply — and potentially more “subversively” or “destabilizingly” — than any overt thumb-in-the-eye hectoring that any foreigner or foreign leader might muster, in public or private. Those words are ***precisely*** the kind that Zhongnanhai [Chinese term equivalent to “the Kremlin”] fears the most, and rightly so.”

This was reported in the U.S. as a failure. The Communist government outmaneuvered the Obama advance team by allowing him only a local broadcast (that went to 100 million Chinese), and Obama backed off from saying anything about human rights.

You see the disconnect. Obama’s words are not remarkable to an American, but apparently they had an entirely different effect in China.

Fallows quotes some other people who had a closer look at the China trip than most of us did, and they were far more positive toward the trip than anyone watching from here.

22 thoughts on “Obama’s China Trip Failed Everywhere But China

  1. What a remarkable and refreshing difference from our last Resident!

    First, our last Resident never got to hear that there were actual dissenting opinions; second, a President that knows how to do actual diplomacy, and not the Sharp Stick In The Eye braggadocio of our former Resident, is quite a wonderful change.

    There is hope; now if we only had a real news media to get the message out to actual voters…

  2. The lesson is pay no attention to the stupid media in this country. I learned that one a long time ago.

    We’re becoming more and more like the USSR in the sense that you have to learn to ignore the official story and read between the lines. Unlike the USSR, we have the internet and ways that anyone can ferret out the truth if they’re willing to work at it a bit.

  3. It’s easier to just spout Faux Nooz talking points then it is to actually do something like journalism. Who expects main stream media which is owned by major corporations to even pretend they like this administration? The reich wingers have their marching orders from Rush himself. Dittoheads don’t think twice – not that they ever think in the first place. Everything President Obama does is a fail for them.


  4. Colbert called it Truthiness: “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true” (American Dialect Society, January 2006)

    While the Chinese got a live video feed, we got truthiness out of the tee vee machine. Who had a more free flow of information in this instance?

    moonbat: I heard the best line from my “Modern Russian History” professor regarding Pravda (which I believe means “truth” in Russian): “Never in history have so many lies been written under the banner of truth.” Maybe. But our MSM, with Faux Nooz in the lead, are giving them a run for their money.

  5. I don’t know how the can call the trip a “failure.” He bowed too low in front of the Emperor of Japan! Oh my gosh it means he is a coward who is afraid of the Japanese Emperor! Get out your guns the Emperor is going to invade! Was there something more to criticism than this? Just to support what moonbat and libururl media said: what we call “the media” is owned by the following companies:
    CBS news: Viacom, which owns loads of media outlets, and expects them all to spend zero money and make profits.
    NBC news: General Electric! Yes, the company that used to make light bulbs, now owns all of NBC…
    ABC news: Walt-Disney! Its true, the Mickey Mouse Empire is making money this way too.
    Fox news: say no more…

    The point is they are all just huge media conglomerates and to make them profitable they have to just repeat whatever talking point the boss tells them to. Occasionally you might hear something informative but only rarely will you learn anything worthwhile from your television.

  6. I posted this in response to Doug Hughes but thing it was too late in the thread. Can I repost it here? off topic but important.
    Doug Hughes, “Will the detractors please tell me how NO bill – with the suffering and death that entails – is better than an imperfect bill.

    Most of the things you talk about will not happen till 2013, yet we start paying for it right away. By then we could have had single payer in place for at least 2 years and it would cost NO MORE MONEY than is in the system now. When we already spend 2X what every other developed country pays, is the answer really more money? Is that going to be the ‘uniquely American way’ forever? People are fearing change because they are still too comfortable with the present. In the next year, things will get more uncomfortable with what they have and single payer will look better. If the reforms all took place next year, I could support your idea of ‘better than nothing.” Lives saved now are worth the inferior produce, But that is not the choice. It is lives wasted for 3 more years and then no real reform anyway. This reform is ‘a PIECE OF SHIT’ and ‘no way jose’ will stand right now. Lives lost are not going to change for 2-3 years what ever happens with this bill. WHen this one fails, the country will be in worse shape and possibly unable to minimally care for the uninsured. For more information about the timing of reforms, refer to PNHP.org…./americas-affordable-health

  7. I have for a long time had misgivings about meetings which were nothing more than photo-ops for American presidents and the foreign counterparts. When the outcome is pre-arranged, negotiated and settled, the meeting has the significance of an encouter at a brothel. It might be good, but it aint romance.

    I would like the American president to have ideas and ideals. If the foreign counterpart is also more than a political talking head, the meeting (in private) MIGHT be a free and open exchange of political ideas and the basis for future progress to the benefit of BOTH parties. The mainstream US press corp seems to expect all foreign governments should lay back and spread their legs when the USA comes to town.

    The asumption seems to be that if China wasn’t screwed in some deal, then the USA must have been. Sometimes a great first date only sets the stage for a meaningful second date. It’s not an automatic failure if no one got laid.

  8. Obama: “… it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don’t want to hear.”
    Bush: “Hey, Hop Sing, skip the MSG’s, OK? What, you’re the leader of China? OK then, Hop Sing, skip the WMD’s. Where’s the door? Ooops, wrong one! Heh, heh, heh… Rummy, you sure we can’t nuke these slant-eyed bastards? No huh? To bad…”
    What a difference a year makes. Why doesn’t the MSM play side-by-side video’s of Obama’s ‘failure’ this year to Bush’s last trip. With Dumbaya, as usual, there was “No Exit.”

  9. The Righties seem to think that the purpose of an official state visit is for our president to publicly lecture those “inferior countries” on human rights, the trade imbalance and other issues.

    I wonder how they’d react if Chinese Premier Hu Jintao came over here and made a live broadcast lecturing America about its ludicrous health care, its prison gulag (bigger than China’s) and economic mismanagement. Yeah, I’m sure the Righties would welcome that, wouldn’t they?

  10. “This (China Town Hall) was reported in the U.S. as a failure.”

    Of course, unfortunately our media is incapable of reporting anything as successful or promising. They like to call it critical reporting but it really serves two important objectives for the media.

    1. It keeps the media consumer pissed off, liberals are pissed that Obama gets such bad coverage, dimwitted teabaggers are pissed that the afrosocialistdespot is ruining everything “they” have worked for. Pissed off people keep tuning in to the Opinion based reporting that pretty much dominates the TV news business these days, left and right. Pissed off people are waiting for the next big story, pissed off people are more likely to consume the talking point laden news that our mass-media passes off as journalism. Pissed off people can’t consume news objectively.

    2. Negative reporting (especially about Obama) keeps the “liberal media” moniker at bay. Thirty years of the wing-nuts crying about media bias has worked. Even on MSNBC they don’t really report anything positive about the Obama administration or the latest Healthcare Legislation they just report how the “other” networks are so biased against it. Sometimes I think Glenn BecKKK gets more airtime on MSNBC than he does on FAUX. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  11. . When the outcome is pre-arranged, negotiated and settled, the meeting has the significance of an encouter at a brothel. It might be good, but it aint romance.

    Nicely put, Doug!

  12. dyedinthewool – We are in agreement about single payer. Hypothetically, it could reduce costs by nearly 25% across the board because that’s how much MORE private insurance spends on non-medical expenses compared to Medicare.

    Unfortunately, it’s not on the menu and it’s not gonna be on the menu for practical political reasons you and I can’t change. 85% of Americans have private insurance and 70% of them are ‘satisfied’. That 70% would be better off with a well-designed single-payer system, but they aren’t going to trade what they have for something untested. Health insurance IS a matter of life-and-death and people with tried-and-true coverage won’t trade it for what’s behind Door Number One.

    If and I emphasize IF we pass Health Care with a government option — even on a limited basis then over time we can kick that door open wider and give more Americans access to a cheaper bettter-run system, and let private insurance die on the vine over time.

    I misspoke previously – it was almost 16 years ago (not 12) when Clinton proposed health care reform. You act like single payer is waiting in the wings to be introduced next year when we have a truely progressive Congress. We are going to loose seats in the House AND the Senate in the mid-terms. Health Care IS the presidents signature item – if we can’t get it pased it WILL be at least a decade or maybe two before it’s reintroduced if history is any guide.

    Are you interested on getting health care for as many Americans as possible ASAP or are you motivated by hatred for the Insurance Companies? Because if you are out to ‘get’ them, you will find it hard to ‘sell’ your point-of-view. Being for the guy who works at Wall-Mart or Taco Bell, the single working mom who makes too much for Medicaid, but not enough to afford insurance, these are people that others can identify with. Be for something achevable.

  13. Well, it’s because that’s what our media does — somebody feeds them a narrative, and they write their news stories around the narrative.

    On the tombstone of the Republic will be the epitaph “Killed By A Story Arc”.

  14. The rightards’ only concept for foreign diplomacy is bullying – the American president shows up and acts like an asshole, and the hosts are so intimidated by this display of ‘strength’ that they magically give MURKA whatever it wants.
    And most of the press are too lazy to describe any narrative that wouldn’t fit comfortably into a comic book.

  15. A humble spirit transcends language and is universally understood in the same way that arrogance can be perceived without a word being spoken. Picture in your mind George Bush strutting across the White House lawn after exiting Marine 1. What thought pops into your mind while observing his gait and body language? Yep, he exuded arrogance! He reeks of it..it pulsates.

    By the same token, Obama projects humility, a quality of spirit that is just outside the reach of some people’s comprehension..they can only see it as weakness when in fact it is strength. Humility doesn’t fail.

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  17. Obama projects humility, a quality of spirit that is just outside the reach of some people’s comprehension..they can only see it as weakness when in fact it is strength.

    My take is “Obama thinks and talks like a grown-up,” which this country is so not used to anymore. We’ve seen again and again how smug and stupid go hand-in-hand in American public life; now we’ve got a guy who’s so outside the norm, the smug & stupid pundits don’t know what to make of him. It’s infuriating, but also amusing in a way. After all, Obama’s president and they’re not.

  18. I read on one of those links that the news media wasn’t properly “prepped” by the white house on the goals of the visit and that was the reason they got bad press.
    When I read that, it lets me know our press isn’t doing it’s job. They have to be told what is going on? I am very worried about the news media. I think they are busy spewing out the sound bites provided to them. It is rare to have any topic comprehensively covered. I guess that is what we can expect when the papers are busy setting up salons so the medical people can give their side of the story …….and a donation.

  19. Lead by example.

    We can’t lead by going abroad and bullying others with criticism of who they are. We lead by being the nation which our founding fathers “pledged our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” to create. We lead by being something for others to look up to, and live up to.

  20. Gosh, it’s almost as if Obama thought carefully about what message he wanted to send to the Chinese people and then consulted with people who actually know something about China to figure out the most effective way to send it! What a novel concept.

    Since the Republicans are only interested in scoring political points back home, and the corporate media are only interested in keeping score, the concept of actually communicating with the Chinese people is alien to them.

  21. joanr16 saith,
    ‘My take is “Obama thinks and talks like a grown-up,” which this country is so not used to anymore.’

    Exact truth. (Well, a reservation follows this.) It is completely weird to me: a President whom I want to hear, whose talk is human and smart. True, he has an advantage compared to other smart people who have been President, in the contrast to his predecessor; but there’s more. And it’s not just his American accent, in contrast to, say, Carter, Johnson, Kennedy… That’s comforting but not important. He does talk like an adult, and from the Bully Pulpit. Which reminds me–

    Now the nitpick: Just when was the country used to it? I remember, though not with perfect clarity or understanding, the last guy who said he would talk sense to the American people: Adlai Stevenson. 1952. The first campaign I was actually aware of. Also aware that the Real Americans didn’t trust that egghead one bit. I recall a classmate (6th grade) telling a friend how her parents had listened to Stevenson’s speech the night before, and didn’t understand the guy — this was not a clever child’s commentary but a recitation of what the parents had said.

    So, cheer up, things aren’t really getting worse; America has hardly expected or wanted to be addressed by a grownup in the last 60 years or so.

  22. ” They hate us for our freedoms”….You can’t get more condescending to a developed mind than that. Implicit in that statement is the irrationality of moral superiority that’s designed to trigger an emotional response in the most base, and uncultivated minds. No need for your thinking caps here, folks…cause we’re Amurikins ..and damn proud of it!

    God bless America!!!!!!

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