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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Midterm Elections


DE RUEHIN #3834/01 3170916
R 130916Z NOV 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage November 10-13 on the aftermath of the prosecutor's
indictments of First Lady Wu Shu-chen and three Presidential aides
in early November; on the first televised debates among the Taipei
mayoral candidates Sunday; and on follow-on investigations into the
Presidential allowance for state affairs case. Former Academia
Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh and Former Presidential Office
Secretary General Chen Shih-meng, both close friends of President

Chen Shui-bian, over the weekend openly urged President Chen to step
down. The pro-unification "United Daily News" ran a banner headline
November 13 on page two that read "Blue and Green Each Has Its Own
Intent; Osting Bian Has Become an Imminent Consensus." In
addition, the media reported November 13 that two DPP legislators
have announced their resignation effective this week because they
think their party's handling of President Chen's case has failed to
respond appropriately to Taiwan society's expectations.

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2. Most Taiwan dailies continued to editorialize on President Chen's
allowance for state affairs case and his and the DPP's political
future. Several commentaries and editorials tended to compare
Chen's future with the results of the U.S. mid-term elections. A
"United Daily News" column urged Taiwan voters to wake up and vote
against the DPP, as the U.S. voters did vis-a-vis the Republican
Party. An analysis in the pro-status quo "China Times" said the
political earthquake caused by the U.S. mid-term elections has
sounded a death knell for the Republican Party. The article also
urged Taiwan not to nurture any wishful thinking about future U.S.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, because even though she may love Taiwan,
she will not embrace a corrupt Taiwan leader. An editorial in the
limited-circulation, conservative, pro-unification "China Post" also
compared President Chen with President Bush and urged Taiwan voters
to use their ballots to let Chen know their decision. An editorial
in the limited-circulation, pro-independence, English-language
"Taipei Times," however, said the results of the U.S. mid-term
elections will have very little impact on U.S.-Taiwan relations.
End summary.

A) "The United States Wakes Up, While Taiwan Remains Asleep?"

The "Black and White" column in the pro-unification "United Daily
News" [circulation: 400,000] (11/10):

"The 'George W. Bush's lies' have been exposed, followed by
disillusionment with the 'George W. Bush myth.' It is globally
acknowledged that the severe defeat of the U.S. Republican Party in
the mid-term elections stems from the fact that voters have cast a
no-confidence vote against Bush. There were two means Bush adopted
that were behind his ascendancy after the September 11 tragedy: One
was that he chose a foreign enemy, Saddam Hussein, to inflame the
American people's sense of justice and desire for revenge. Second,
he took advantage of [the slogan of] 'anti-terrorism' to uphold
'national security' as the highest criterion for judging political
right and wrong, in an attempt to suppress criticism in the United
States. ...

"Bush has used the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism to build an
autocratic position for himself. But last week's mid-term elections
showed that the American people who had once crazily supported
Bush's war in Iraq have now exposed his lies and spurned this
populist politician after 3,000 American soldiers and 600,000 Iraqis
died in the war in Iraq! ... American voters did not buy Bush's
story, but will Taiwan voters buy Chen Shui-bian's story? The
United States can, but Taiwan cannot? The United States has woken
up, but does Taiwan still remain asleep?"

B) "Political Earthquake of the Mid-term Elections Sounds the Death
Knell of the Republican Party"

Washington correspondent Norman Fu noted in the "Washington Outlook"
column in the pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]

"... President George W. Bush immediately fired universally loathed
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld following the mid-term elections,
replacing him with former Central Intelligence Agency Director
Robert Gates. Bush reluctantly let his confidant Rumsfeld go, and
this is a price that the Democratic Party and future U.S. House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded of him. All Bush could do was to send
his favored right hand man who launched the war in Iraq to the altar
as a sacrifice following the elections. ... One need not look far
for a lesson; [Taiwan] must not nurture any wishful thinking about
[future U.S. House Speaker Leader] Nancy Pelosi. One must know that
Pelosi is a vanguard against Republican corruption. How could she
possibly like and embrace a Taiwan leader who is used to telling
lies every day and who is corrupt by nature? ... It may be true
that Pelosi loves Taiwan, but it is definitely not Chen Shui-bian
whom she loves."

C) "Can President Chen Learn from Bush's Defeat?"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (11/13):

"George W. Bush's defeat at the polls on Tuesday should have
surprised nobody. Although his name was not on the mid-term
election, the election was all about him - a referendum on his
leadership, in general, and his war in Iraq, in particular. After
six years in the White House, Bush has proved one thing: he is
perhaps one of the worst American presidents since World War II, if
not of all time. He has made lives miserable for both Americans and
Iraqis. ...

"Like his American counterpart, President Chen is also famous for
his hubris, fickleness, and chicaneries. Although his name is not
on the ballot for next month's election, the election is all about
him - a referendum on his integrity and performance. America's
mid-term election has proven one thing: that the American people
are no longer stupid, at least not as stupid as Bush and his top
political strategist, Karl Rove, had presumed. Are voters in Taiwan
getting smarter? We'll have the answer next month."

D) "Don't Bother Reading US Tea Leaves"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (11/10):

"Political analysts look for changes in the Taiwan-US relationship
after even the most insignificant events, so it is not surprising
that they will jump into overdrive after a major development such as
the US midterm election. ... So when the usual commentators start
putting their cutting insights into print, telling us how the US
election is good for the pan-blues, or good for the pan-greens, for
good for Taiwan, or bad for Taiwan, or whatever their formulation
might be, we would do well to remember that the election will
probably have very little impact on US-Taiwan relations. There are
manifold reasons for this, but primarily it is because Taiwan is on
the periphery of political debate in the U.S. American voters and
politicians are worried about a lot of things, but on the whole,
Taiwan isn't foremost among them. ...

"The common ideological thread that most of these people share,
however, is support for Taiwan's right to self-determination. That
support will continue so long as Taiwanese show that they are
interested in their own future. This is why US State Department
isn't interested in taking sides in the current brouhaha over the
president. From the US' point of view, it is immaterial which
Taiwanese political party or faction has the upper hand from week to
week. The important question relates to process. There is a vast
difference between red-clad rabble-rousers bringing down the
president using mob rule, and a prosecutor bringing down the
president using legal means. The more rabid extremists may not see
this, but we must hope that these people remain where they belong:
on the fringe of popular opinion. And if that happens, there may
come a way when people here are confident enough in their own system
of government that they no longer need to seek affirmation from a
staid foreign bureaucrat speaking from a podium."


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