A few weeks ago, with the fate of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng entirely unclear, Mitt Romney decided to condemn the Obama administration’s handling of the situation, calling Chen’s temporary return to Chinese officials “a dark day for freedom and it’s a day of shame for the Obama administration.”
It was an odd move for a high-profile American politician to take. After all, Romney’s condemnation of U.S. officials came during tense diplomatic talks with a major international rival. Even Bill Kristol said it was “foolish” for the Republican to “butt into a fast moving story when the secretary of state is in Beijing with delicate negotiations.”
Three weeks later, I’m curious: does Romney still consider the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts in this situation “shameful”?
Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal advocate who recently sought refuge in the American Embassy in Beijing, arrived in the heart of Greenwich Village on Saturday, holding the kind of open-air news conference that he could have never imagined while under virtual house arrest in China.
After a daylong and hastily arranged flight from Beijing, Mr. Chen stood on crutches – with a lawyer at his side and facing spectators cordoned off by the police – and addressed a throng of reporters. He said he was grateful to the American Embassy and the Chinese government, which allowed him to leave China, and thanked Chinese officials for “dealing with the situation with restraint and calm.”
Too often in political coverage, there isn’t enough accountability. Irresponsible politicians pop off on the subject of the day, but there isn’t much in the way of follow through, as we chase the ball bouncing in new directions.
So, let’s circle back for a moment. Romney wanted to pretend to be a credible analyst of American diplomacy during sensitive diplomatic talks with China. Does Romney still think he was right to condemn the Obama administration? Or has Chen Guangcheng’s arrival in New York caused him to reconsider his rhetoric about a “dark day for freedom” and a “day of shame for the Obama administration”?