Nancy Pelosi Goes To Taiwan, Uh Oh, That's A Warrin'!
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went to Taiwan this week, pissing off China and whiny Republicans at home. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and doesn’t appreciate foreign government officials seemingly recognizing Taiwan’s sovereignty. Imperialists are so sensitive. Pelosi isn’t just any tourist, either. She’s the highest-ranking US official to visit the island.
Michael Schuman at the Atlantic seems certain that "Pelosi’s visit was a step in a process transforming a war over Taiwan from a remote likelihood to a real risk that should worry the world.” Well, maybe! But we made it through four years of Trump without a nuclear war, so I’m willing to trust Pelosi’s diplomatic skills.
Ms. Pelosi met with Taiwanese lawmakers and then with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, offering strident assurances of United States support for the island democracy that China claims as its own. In the whirlwind day of events, she was welcomed by crowds of supporters waving banners and followed by the news media and protesters, her closely tracked meetings and movements streamed partly online.
Of course, there's also this:
In her wake, she left a crisis, setting the stage for new brinkmanship between China and the United States over power and influence in Asia. Taiwan is now bracing for Beijing to begin live-fire military drills on Thursday, an escalation without recent historical precedent that could encircle the island and drop missiles into seas only 10 miles from its coast.
This sounds an awful lot like Pelosi has brought the nation to the brink of a military mess. (Those military exercises have now begun, hit up the Washington Post for the latest.) Of course, it's possible Chinese President Xi Jinping was just puffing out his chest when he told President Joe Biden last week that “whoever plays with fire will get burned.” Or not!
During an interview Wednesday with Fox News non-blonde Harris Faulkner, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said Pelosi’s trip gave “China an opening” to unite around a common enemy. McCarthy added that he “supported” Pelosi going to Taiwan — a number of Republicans publicly supported her trip, while President Joe Biden specifically asked her not to go — but McCarthy said that “where she really made a mistake” was not inviting him. Pelosi doesn’t need a chaperone, least of all Trump’s hand puppet.
Last year, McCarthy “joked” about bludgeoning Pelosi with the speaker’s gavel if Republicans regain the House. No one can fault Pelosi for not considering McCarthy an ideal traveling companion. He further whined that Pelosi "didn’t take one Republican. When she went to Ukraine, she didn’t take one Republican.” You guys are assholes who shrug off if not outright encourage violent rhetoric against Pelosi and other Democrats. Now, you wanna do Rick Steves’s Taiwan together?
MCCARTHY: So if you really want to make a strong statement, that America’s making a statement, don’t make it partisan, don’t take all Democrats. If you want to have Congress … speak with one voice, take people from both sides of the aisle.
We all realize that if McCarthy were speaker, he’d never invite a single Democrat on an important trip abroad.
MCCARTHY: It didn’t have to be me. But just take another Republican. And had she done that, it’s a much stronger voice of what she is trying to do.
He really wanted it to be him. If Pelosi doesn’t at least return with a souvenir for him, he’s gonna freak out.
This shouldn’t shock you, because McCarthy is a singularly graceless liar, but Pelosi did invite at least one Republican on her trip. She asked the top-ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul from Texas. He declined because of a personal conflict.
Wednesday, Pelosi, the first woman speaker, met with President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first woman president (America continues to hang its head in shame). She noted that a group of (male) Congress members had visited Taiwan in April and cast some fierce shade on China’s current bluster.
“They made a big fuss because I’m the speaker, I guess. I don’t know if that was a reason or an excuse,” she said. “Because they didn’t say anything when the men came.”
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."