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Be Honest About Right-Wing Meddling

Sat., Aug. 5, 1995

To: Washington power guys and pretenders

Subject: Swaggering and other foolishness

Gentlemen, this week yet another poll said something like three out of four Americans think their government is as trustworthy as an unsupervised toddler with an open can of Hawaiian Punch. Gee, I wonder why.

Possibly part of your problem is that pretext politics don’t work anymore. You guys look dumb when the real goal of your actions has nothing to do with the stated goal - as is the case of attempts by Sen. Bob Dole & Co. to curtail U.S. participation in the Fourth U.N. World Conference on Women.

We may not be geniuses out here, but it is insulting to hear what you guys are saying is your reason for trying to cut the U.S. out of the conference that begins late this month in China.

You are saying, and came near to getting a vote to that effect, that we can’t participate in the U.N. conference because China is abusing Harry Wu’s human rights.

Gentlemen, gentlemen. Leave the women out of your swaggering attempts to control U.S. policy toward China.

The point of the offensive against the women’s conference is not to create leverage for China to let Wu go or to improve its human rights behavior. The point of the Senate’s offensive is to reduce the influence of the president over foreign policy and to score with narrow domestic constituencies that have great influence in Republican presidential politics. The point is to manufacture yet another pretext against the conference because it represents a progressive, internationalist agenda for women.

U.S. goals at the meeting, U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright said this week, are to promote and protect the human rights of women, end violence against women, expand women’s participation in political decisions, assure equal access to health care and education, and strengthen families.

“American withdrawal would not stop the conference or cause it to be moved,” she said. “It would lead instead to a conference in which 130 million American women would be unrepresented and in which our influence and leadership would not be felt.”

Yes, China is acting badly these days from a U.S. perspective. Since June 19, Wu, an American citizen and rights activist has been jailed and charged in China for doing what would be legal in this country: watchdogging the government and criticizing it.

China and the U.S. are at each other’s throats for many reasons. This is a terrible time between the two giant nations. But to link the U.N. women’s conference with any of this dreadful bilateral stuff is bunk.

Why not try honesty to advance your agenda? Go to the American people and say, “The United States has no business living up to its pledges of leadership in international family planning and women’s health care education. The United States has no interest in speaking up for women’s rights as human rights. The United States doesn’t want to contribute to the international movement to stop violence against women.”

Why not be forthright? Say “We think the Senate has a right to micromanage and redirect U.S. foreign policy and that we are showing you leadership by trying to make that happen.”

Could the reasons be that you look as foolish as you are when these goals are stated plainly? Could you look as sexist as you are? Could you look more like exploiters and less like presidential timber? Could you look like you are wasting taxpayer money on perverse legislation to provide you ego trips?

Could you be going for four out of four Americans who have lost confidence in your trustworthiness to govern?


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