Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fuzzy Diplomacy

At last night’s state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao, President Obama announced that, “Under a new agreement, our National Zoo will continue to dazzle children and visitors with the beloved giant pandas."

Wait, wha--??? The first state visit from China in over a decade and all we get is to keep the pandas we already have? What the hell kind of agreement is that? One of the primary reasons I voted for Obama was for his diplomacy skills, but this is a complete and utter failure for the Administration.

Here’s how US-China diplomacy is supposed to work: They do whatever the hell they want and we look the other way. Specifically, in the direction of our adorable little panda cubs. Call it fuzzy diplomacy. For the human rights violations China is churning out (and yes, I do consider barring access to Google a violation of basic human rights), we should get at least two cubs. Plus a third for all the flimflammery with the currency.

And, China, as long as you’re forking over the good stuff, you might as well put another one in there as a consolation prize now that the US is only the number 2 emitter of greenhouse gases. I mean, no one wants to cheer “we’re number 2!” at the UN pep rally, but a something soft, black, white, and butterstick-shaped would certainly soften the blow. You’re the one who wants to be the good neighbor and whatnot.

This latest disappointment only adds to the Obama administration’s dismal record on panda policy. Here in DC, our hearts broke and our traffic jammed (seriously, they shut down Connecticut Ave, one of the major arteries of the city, for three hours in morning rush hour traffic to take the panda to the airport) when our beloved Butterstick was taken from the National Zoo and thereby nudging the national landmark on to the shortlist of most depressing places in DC.

Atlanta’s panda fared even worse: no one even bothered to teach her Chinese (which was apparently an issue). I have enough trouble finding interpreters from Spanish to English; I can’t even imagine the hoops you’d have to jump through to find someone who can translate from Panda to Chinese.

I realize we’re all caught up in pressing domestic issues, like health care debate (wait, is that right? I thought we finished that months ago?!). But I implore the Obama administration and Secretary Clinton to press President Hu to panda up.


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