Saturday, October 08, 2005

Unleash Chang...

This story about Jeb Bush came out recently...

Unleash the who? ...

Amid all the stories about destruction from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it was easy to miss other happenings around the world over the past month.

Take, for example, a story out of Florida that chronicled Gov. Jeb Bush ending a state congressional swearing-in ceremony by telling attendees of his imaginary warrior friend named Chang.

Bush shared that Chang is a mystical hero who believes in the purest of conservative political ideals, and that when Bush is politically perplexed, he "unleashes the Chang" to help him make the right decision.

After a standing ovation, Bush unveiled a golden sword that he presented as a gift to Rep. Marco Rubio, the new speaker of the state house and advised him to become a great conservative warrior.

Luckily, Brad De Long has an explanation:

When George H. W. Bush in the 1970s and 1980s threatened to "unleash Chang" on his tennis opponents, he was referring to China's onetime strongman and thereafter Taiwan's dictator Chiang Kaishek, leader of the Nationalist Party, the man who had largely reunified China in the 1920s with his army's "Northern Expedition," lost the Chinese Civil War to Mao Zedong's Chinese Communist Party, and then taken refuge with his Guomindang party cadres on Taiwan. After the start of the Korean War, the American 7th Fleet protected Chiang (and Taiwan) from Mao's People's Liberation Army.

Republican wingnuts, however, pretended that the 7th Fleet actually protected Mao's Communists (who had, after all, won the Chinese Civil War) from Chiang's Nationalists (who had, after all, lost it) by keeping Chiang Kaishek leashed. They periodically called for the U.S. to "unleash Chiang Kaishek"--so that Chiang, you see, could invade and conquer the Chinese mainland.

When George H. W. Bush, playing tennis (and losing) in the 1970s and 1980s, would threaten to "unleash Chiang," he was mocking the right-wing nuts of his generation.

That clears that one up...

On second thought, though, I think "JEB" Bush actually knows the origin of Chang, and despite De Long's opinion that Jeb's incurious, I opine otherwise: no, he's cynical, and assumes incuriousness on the part of his fellow conservatives. Which I think would be a spot on assumption.

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