U.S. President George W. Bush likes to talk straight. His "bring them on" ranks with former CIA Director George Tenet's "slam dunk" as some of the most memorable quotes during his presidency. Harry Truman once called a critic of his daughter's musical talent an "s.o.b." Bush is said to have used the same kind of language to vent his anger against those he did not like.

This week, before arriving in Beijing to attend the Olympics in his three-country swing, President Bush told his Chinese host bluntly that America stands in "firm opposition" to the way Beijing treats its own people. "I have spoken clearly, candidly and consistently with China's leaders about our deep concerns over religious freedom and human rights," said Bush in a draft speech the White House released Wednesday in Bangkok where he was visiting. 

"We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly, and labor rights not to antagonize China's leaders," the marquee speech says, "but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential. And we press for openness and justice not to impose our beliefs, but to allow the Chinese people to express theirs."

Bush's lecture, in fact, is not new. It's like harping on the old tune. It's interesting to note that Bush chose to make the speech public in Thailand instead of China. Obviously, he did not want to offend his host and spoil the fun he and his family are going to have in Beijing. He said earlier in Seoul that he did not believe the Olympics should be used as an occasion to criticize the host country.

Besides, the speech also contains positive remarks. "I am optimistic about China's future," he said. "Young people who grow up with the freedom to trade goods will ultimately demand the freedom to trade ideas, especially on an unrestricted Internet."

The speech was a slap on the wrist, not in the face. Ever since President Bush decided to attend the Beijing Games last year, he has been under mounting pressure from critics at home and human rights activists abroad who urged him to boycott the games. He has to respond to his critics. The fact is, Bush's attendance lends much prestige and respectability to Beijing. All the protests that have plagued the organizers of the games will be made irrelevant by Bush's appearance -- a pat on the back of Beijing from the world's most powerful democracy.

In politics, what's important is what you do, not what you say. Bush's rhetoric doesn't mean very much compared to what he is doing. No wonder that Beijing's foreign ministry did not take President Bush's speech seriously, saying perfunctorily that human rights are China's internal affairs.

China is America's unlikely ally. But they are drawn together by parallel interests -- security and trade, for example. Before 9-11, the two countries were rivals and their relations were frosty, especially after the collision of a U.S. Naval spy plane with a Chinese jet fighter over the South China Sea in March 2001. But al-Qaida's attacks on New York's twin towers and the Pentagon in Washington had changed all this. China has vested interests in Bush's war on terror, because the mainland faces threats from Tibetan and Uighur separatists in the country's far-flung western region. The bloody attack last week in Kashgar, Xinjiang province, is a case in point. Growing Sino-U.S. trade ties are another factor behind what Bush called "complex relations." Each is the other's second largest trading partner. Besides, China is America's second largest creditor, after Japan.

President Hu Jintao should be extremely gratified by Bush's presence, and pretend he didn't hear anything. Now is party time, to smile and to have fun, not to let nasty politics ruin the auspicious occasion. It is certainly inappropriate for Bush to boo the debutante at her coming out party. 

Nobody is perfect, after all. Regarding human rights, who dares to cast the first stone? When you have Gitmo and Abu Graib, how can you in good conscience lecture others on human rights abuse? Well, better forget the nonsense for a moment. Let the Games begin!

abuse : 濫用,妄用
ally : 同盟國;同盟者
antagonize : 使對抗;使敵對
attendance : 到場;出席
auspicious : 吉兆的;吉利的
boo :  (表示不滿、輕蔑等)噓
candidly : 率直地
cast : 投,擲,拋,扔,撒
certainly : 無疑地;必定;確實
collision : 碰撞;相撞
conscience : 良心;道義心;善惡觀念[C][U]
consistently : 一貫地;固守地
contain : 包含;容納
creditor : 債權人;貸方
dare : 敢;竟敢
debutante : 初次進入社交界的女子
extremely : 極端地;極其;非常
factor : 因素;要素[(+in)]
far-flung : 廣佈的
firm : 穩固的;牢固的;結實的
frosty : 霜凍的;結霜的;嚴寒的
gratify : 使高興,使滿意[H][(+at/with)][+to-v]
harp : 豎琴
inappropriate : 不適當的
instead : 作為替代
irrelevant : 不恰當的
lecture : 授課;演講
memorable : 值得懷念的;難忘的;顯著的
nasty : 齷齪的;令人作嘔的;使人難受的
obviously : 明顯地;顯然地
offend : 冒犯;觸怒;傷害...的感情
opposition : 反對;反抗;對抗[(+to)]
optimistic : 樂觀的
pat : 輕拍,輕打
perfunctorily : 敷衍地,馬虎地,隨便地,得過且過地
plague : 瘟疫
positive : 確定的;確實的
presence : 出席,在場;存在
presidency : 職權、任期
prestige : 名望,聲望,威望[U]
pretend : 佯裝;假裝;[+to-v][+(that)]
quote : 引用;引述[O1]
regarding : 關於;就...而論
religious : 宗教的,宗教上的[Z]
remark : 談到;評論;說[Y][+(that)]
respectability : 可尊敬;體面
rhetoric : 修辭;修辭學;修辭學著作
ruin : 毀滅;崩潰;毀壞[U]
separatist : 分離主義者
seriously : 嚴肅地
spoil : 損壞;糟蹋;搞糟
straight : 筆直的;挺直的
tune : 曲調;歌曲;旋律[C]
unlikely : 不太可能的;靠不住的[F][+to-v][+that]
unrestricted : 無限制的;不受限制的
vent : (通過排放而)減輕壓力

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