Curious George goes to Beijing (and incurious Steve stays home)

UPDATE: The link has been taken down for the usual copyright reasons, but Fox has a transcript of the interview. Bush is taking predictable heat in the rantosphere for saying there’s nothing wrong with the USA, but what I liked about this interview are two things: First, Bush’s repeated emphasis on the need for engagement, for the US to be in that part of the world, meeting leaders, showing respect, but respectfully disagreeing when necessary. Second, I liked Bush’s candour when Bob Costas asks him how much impact he can have:

Q As you attempt to press these points with them, do you find Hu Jintao not just warm toward you personally, but is he receptive? Do you sense any movement?

THE PRESIDENT: It’s hard to tell. I mean, it’s — all I can tell you is, is that it is best to be in the position where a leader will listen to you. I went to church here, and I’m sure the cynics say, well, you know, it was just a state-sponsored church. On the other hand — and that’s true. On the other hand, it gave me a chance to say to the Chinese people, religion won’t hurt you, you ought to welcome religious people. And it gave me a chance to say to the government, why don’t you register the underground churches and give them a chance to flourish? And he listened politely. I can’t read his mind, but I do know that every time I met with him I pressed the point.

The sad part is that this is the sort of candour that Stephen Harper is capable of, when he isn’t pulling iinexplicable suck attacks. Why isn’t Harper in Beijing right now? David Emerson says it would be “nice” if our Prime Minister got around to visiting the most important country in the world, but Jason Kenney doesn’t agree:

But Conservative officials said that Mr. Harper met with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Group of Eight summit in Japan in July, and that Mr. Harper had no reason to go to Beijing for the opening ceremonies.

“Why would a political leader go to a non-political event?” Secretary of State Jason Kenney said yesterday on CTV’s Question Period.

What a colossal idiot.

In which George W. Bush goes to the Olympics, sees some events, meets other world leaders and engages in diplomacy. Amazing what can happen when world leaders actually go where other leaders are.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.