Thursday, January 20, 2011

Not Only Was Reid Not Condemning Dictatorships; He Seemed to be Musing Wistfully About Them

The story about Harry Reid calling China's president a "dictator" — and that, "on the same day Hu Jintao arrived on a diplomatic visit to the U.S. to discuss their at-times rocky relationship" — has been described, including by conservatives, as a faux pas and/or an insult, deliberate or otherwise, to a foreign superpower. (The BBC: "Mr Reid [went] so far as to call Mr Hu 'a dictator' in an interview with KSNV television".)

But read the remarks again, and you will see that the reality might be even more troubling. First of all, since the "Nevada senator quickly backtracked from his statement" (and since Democrats love meeting with foreign leaders, whatever their level of oppression of dissidents at home), one wonders to what extent Reid really wanted to take a moral stand and "snub" the Chinese strongman — beyond it being necessary for the voters of Nevada and for public relations in America.

More importantly, the remarks might in fact be an insult (if unintended) to America, to its form of government, and to its Constitution. For not only does the Senate Majority Leader seem not to be condemning dictators and/or dictatorships per se, one wonders if he is not in fact musing wistfully about them.
…the president of China … is a dictator," Reid has told local TV talk show "Face to Face with Jon Ralston." "He can do a lot of things through the form of government they have."

The inflammatory remarks were made after Ralston asked if Reid thought the lame-duck tax cut deal was a good one. The Nevada senator quickly backtracked from his statement.

"Maybe I shouldn't have said dictator, but they have a different type of government than we have and that's an understatement," Reid said.
Notice that the Nevada senator never specifically condemned Hu Jintao for being a dictator or dictatorship itself as a form of government. The Nevadan who used heavy-handed methods — including sweet deals, bribery, and intimidation (for members of his own side of the aisle), along with ignoring Senate rules and bullying the opposition — to ram bills, often unread, through the Senate (and now that the filibuster is irritating to him and his party, he is famously trying to get rid of it) immediately followed the depiction of Hu Jintao with the remark that a dictator "can do a lot of things through the form of government they have."

That is hardly a condemnation of any kind; it is a rather objective statement, a mere descriptive that, if anything, seems to be leaning towards the positive-sounding. Indeed, what are we told that this descriptive was in response to? A question regarding the vexing (for the liberals) deal the Democrats had to embark on regarding the tax cut.

We are told that the "Nevada senator quickly backtracked from his statement", with Jon Summers, the Senate majority leader's spokesman, telling the Daily News that "Reid was referring to the differences between the American and Chinese governments", adding that "Obviously, he believes strongly in the American political system and our form of government". But does Reid indeed so believe?

Again, Reid's statement — "Maybe I shouldn't have said dictator, but they have a different type of government than we have and that's an understatement" — is hardly a principled indictment of the strongman's system; it sounds more like a devious statement coming from someone who cannot bring himself to condemn what is (nothing more, from his viewpoint, than) a "different type of government" and who uses weasel words to pretend that he is indeed denouncing that type of government.

Like Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and many many other liberals — the New York Times' Paul Krugman comes to mind — Harry Reid can think of nothing better, if and when liberals are in power and are combating one "crisis" after another (heroically, of course), than for Washington to enjoy have the same powers that Beijing wields — including the curtailment of lethargic democracy with its messy rules, its legal impediments, and its annoying opposition members; the need for reeducation centers for the clueless clods who are preventing the élites from implementing their dashing avant-garde ideas; and the (subsequent) need to dictate their (benevolent) policies to the nation.

Related: The Logical Conclusion of the Leftists' Talking Points