The China debate continues

Plus: A new, Bush-spoofing sitcom from the creators of "South Park," and the most annoying catch phrase on the Internet

By Anthony York
Published April 3, 2001 7:02PM (EDT)

Drudge Report: "China Claims Right to Inspect Plane" "Global Warming: Brought to You by the World Bank" "Standoff in New Cold War Drama"
Modern Humorist: "Co-opting the Internet's Most Annoying and Inscrutable Catch Phrase"
WorldNet Daily: "Bush-Spoofing Sitcom Hits Comedy Network"

Big buzz

The Table Talkers are far from confident in Bush's ability to navigate a precarious international situation. "I heard that he will use Tom Clancy's 'The Bear and the Dragon' as a guide for policy decisions," writes one.

He knows as much about the fate and condition of the airplane and its crew as I do," writes another. "His response to China is ... well, it's not just weasely, it's nonexistent ... Our self-professed 'leader' is simply clueless, utterly deficient."

Much of the venom on was reserved for the Chinese, who most posters refer to as "Chicoms." "Revoke MFN now!" writes one. "It sounds very much to me that China is trying to provoke an incident and is encouraging all the commie snips in college to attack our embassy," says another.

Most, but not all. "Aren't we being a bit sanctimonious here?" asks one poster. "It was a spy plane we were flying - sure we had a right to do that but they also had a right to scramble a couple of fighters. Then there was an accident, one of their pilots died. It is not clear to me whose fault that was. Our plane landed on Hainan, and they promptly arrested the crew. Would someone please tell me - that if the circumstances had been reversed would we have acted any differently? All of this was our fault and the Chinese acted exactly as we would have done under the same circumstances. Let's stop pontificating about the evil Chinese, it's plain stupid!"

And, as always, a little left over for former president Clinton. "It will be interesting if the Chicoms conclude that the equipment on the plane is inferior to the stuff Clinton already gave them. "

The anti-China rhetoric got so hot on the Free Republic that one Freeper started a new thread. " I've seen quite a lot of heated rhetoric on Free Republic concerning the Surveillance Plane and China. I want to know how many Freepers want to go to a shooting war over this ? Alternatively, who wants a trade war over this? Finally, who wants to settle diplomatically? Your comments?"

The Freepers seemed ready with a ten-point plan. "We tell the ChiComs that we want the plane and crew back immediately," comes the response. "If that is not accomplished, we start winding down our contacts with them ... removal of ambassador, closing of embassy, voiding of all trade agreements, freezing of all assets in country, restriction of movement of their nationals in the country, etc, etc, etc. Just put the screws to them. Give Taiwan the AEGIS destroyers and radar sets that they want, as well as any advanced fighter aircraft that they can afford.

"If they want a war, let it begin here."

Anger management

Conservatives and liberals alike took great joy in a Roll Call story about a memo sent from Barbra Streisand to Democratic lawmakers, urging them to take the gloves off.

"We have a President who stole the presidency through family ties, arrogance and intimidation, employing Republican operatives to exercise the tactics of voter fraud by disenfranchising thousands of blacks, elderly Jews and other minorities ... " Streisand writes. "Why be afraid to speak out and remind the public of what happened last November? Maybe it's because some of you are up for reelection and, therefore, might be afraid to rock the boat. Well, I disagree. Rocking the boat is what wins elections!"

Net-bound liberals greated the memo with boisterous cheers. "I read the memo in its entirety this past weekend. It was eloquent, direct, and very sorely needed ... I hope the Dems take it to heart."

But one poster on makes this convincing argument. "If the Democrats are down to taking advice on politics from Streisand then they are screwed."

Most others in the Plastic thread were surprisingly unsympathetic to the Streisand clarion call. "She's a f***ing singer ..." writes one. "There is not one god reason to care what she has to say. Breaking news: being famous does not mean you have a clue. Just a contract."

The criticism was even nastier on the conservative sites. "Somebody throw that dog a bone and maybe it'll shut up," writes one poster at

For more Red vs. Blue, click here.

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Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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