The headline should have been: "U.S. Eats Words, Issues Apology." Or perhaps: "Uncle Sam Says 'Uncle.'"
But what did you expect from your fine purveyors of corporate media? Nothing better than this, from USA Today: "U.S.-China Standoff: No Winners, No Losers." Or this, from Reuters: "Bush Talks Tough After Welcoming Spy Plane Crew." Or this fresh doozie from the Washington Post: "U.S. Faults Chinese Pilot."
I'm sure glad the U.S. is there to assess "fault" in a non-partisan manner. Non-partisan -- only, not at all.
You have to look carefully to see what the real story is, because the real story is an embarrassing one for the United States, and a servile corporate media is not empowered to explain it to you. But the real story is that the Chinese waged a war of words with us. And with Dubya at the helm, they could only win.
They caught us with our pants down, spying on them. Our special secret mission resulted in the death of their pilot, and our plane and crew parked on their land, without permission. They demanded an apology; and sure, we hemmed and hawed, and now we're all but swearing we had our fingers crossed behind our backs when we said it; but we said it.
"Very sorry," those were our words, repeated twice in our letter. The most powerful nation in the world, made to squeak out an apology.
We look like dorks.
Never mind whose fault it is. That is the subject of another column. The asinine, inarticulate Bush Administration's real failure here is a lack of consistency. Had we chosen to issue an apology at the beginning of this "standoff," we could have claimed at least a tiny modicum of moral high ground, the "crisis" would have ended quickly -- and we'd be consistent. Had we held the hard line, insisting we owed no apology, we might still be embroiled in this mess -- but we'd be consistent. But to claim there was nothing to apologize for … until, suddenly, there was, is pathetic. Or: weak, spineless, endemic of a shriveled waffler. You decide.
And even more pathetic are the Administration's attempts to talk tough NOW, now that we've already issued our apology. We are acting, in fact, as if we never apologized for anything at all. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in a pitch to galvanize public opinion against the Chinese, made a presentation today about how the whole accident was really the Chinese fighter pilot's fault.
My, what sincere contrition! How sorry are we about their pilot's death? So sorry that we're willing to pin the whole thing on him. This is "sorry," American style. Love it!
For the most part, it has been just plain 'ol awful to watch the stubborn dumbshits in the Bush Administration work their flaccid magic. From abortion to ANWR to bankruptcy to workplace injuries, the Bushies have demonstrated time and again that they live in a gated community, and that they intend to keep it that way, no matter how high they have to build the walls. What is refreshing, however, is to see that sometimes, instead of being evil and stupid, they end up too stupid even to be evil. This is one of those special occasions. The Chinese will long relish our inane flip-flopping on the issue of an apology; and all our flap now about how we won't take no shorts from the Chinese must only make them chortle.
Too bad we can't hear all that giggling over the din of our complacent media, myopic to the truth of our loss of face.
If I were to guess though, I'd bet their giggles translate out to something like this: