- Later this spring, if all goes according to plan,
Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian will receive a most unwelcome
visitor: Mr. Douglas H. Paal. Just over a year ago Paal, a former East
Asia and China policy adviser to the first President Bush, publicly
lambasted Chen for a litany of failures. Chen had "stumbled" in his
first months in office, Paal wrote in a widely noted column in the
International Herald Tribune. His inability to "assemble a working
coalition" had left him "floundering for a strategy to rebuild his
authority. The ineptitude of his administration had the misfortune of
coinciding with a downturn in the global market for Taiwan's high
All of which makes Paal's impending arrival in Taipei somewhat surprising. Because if things go as planned, Paal will be there as director of the American Institute in Taiwan--America's de facto ambassador, given our unofficial relationship with the island nation. "I've been in this business for over thirty years, and I don't know of another instance where we sent someone out as a chief of mission who had publicly attacked the host country's chief executive," says Bill Triplett, a former chief Republican counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "We're clearly plowing new ground here."
He joins such other uniquely qualified Bush appointments as John Poindexter, made head of the Information Awareness Office, a new uber-spy agency (implicated in the Iran-contra arms sales and coverup), the controversial Charles Pickering, nominated to a circuit court judgeship, and a former advocate of (among other things) bans on interracial marriage, Otto Reich, recipient of a recess appointment as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American affairs (who ran, among other things, an illegal propaganda operation during the Reagan administration --- not that we'd consider anything like that now, of course) and J. Robert Brame, briefly nominated for a slot on the National Labor Relations Board (an advocate of replacing the U.S. code with a nasty theocracy based on old testament law).
(Brame has since withdrawn).
Nothing like those sleazy Clinton associates, that's for sure.
(For the dedicated Enronaut, by the way, Marshall also has more on the Ralph Reed angle, including the tangled web between Enron, Reed, and Bush political guru Karl Rove).