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Posted by on Nov 11, 2006 in At TMV | 4 comments

GUEST VOICE: Nothing New Under The Sun

The Moderate Voice occasionally runs Guest Voice columns written by people who don’t have weblogs or people who do but wish to contribute to thoughtful dialogue here at TMV. This post is by Robin Koerner, publisher of the MUST READ site Watching America.

Nothing New Under the Sun

By Robin Koerner

Thursday’s photograph of Bush and Pelosi’s press conference showed a controlled, perhaps slightly stiffened Nancy, receiving the reaching out of a more relaxed effusive George. The former on the rise, and the latter forced by political necessity and circumstances that are beyond his control, to extend his hand.

This picture is reminiscent of the very famous moment (and its equally famous photograph) when Nixon disembarked his plane to meet Premier Zhou Enlai at Capital Airport in Beijing in February 1972.

What neither the world nor Nixon knew at the time, was that this historic shot was carefully choreographed by the Chinese. Premier Zhou deliberately stood straight and still as Nixon walked toward him, so that the American leader would be seen leaning toward, and reaching out to the Chinese.

The Democrats aren’t that strategic, and any similarity between the two pictures is of course thoroughly fanciful. But it’s fun to play with. In both 1972 and 2006, a political force that was convinced of its superior power had no choice but to reach out to another group that, as far as any could tell before that moment, was much weaker.

As Nixon was wise enough to appreciate, there are forces of history that made inevitable the Sino-American entente; only the timing was really in question.

Can the same be said of today’s entente? There are many issues any modern society has to embrace just to keep up with the world in which it exists. A body-politic that seeks to insulate itself from a nation – either its own or another -that simply does not share that body’s worldview, always eventually collapses under the stubborn continuing existence of other perspectives and possibilities. Certainly, the op-eds from all over the world that have been published in the run-up to the mid-term elections – many of them translated on –suggest that today’s Republican Congress existed not because of the world, but in spite of it

Reality is what it is. Nixon actually made his own life easier by reaching out to Premier Zhou, and made America safer. It has been said that the positive outcome of his diplomacy depended on just how unlikely a diplomat he was. How wonderful it would be if two years from now, we’re saying the same thing about President Bush. Perhaps the Democratic win has given Bush an opportunity to achieve something that he would have had a hard time achieving with a Republican establishment – the kind of clear success that can comes when two sides of a large divide work together in common cause.

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