Enter Stage Right hands out its monthly awards...

The June 1998 Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

When U.S. president Bill Clinton visits China later this month, no doubt to thank a Chinese lieutenant colonel for her $100 000 donation to the Democratic Party, he will visit Tiananmen Square, scene of the June 3 and 4 1989 slaughter of students who demanded only liberty.

But Bill Clinton won't be there to remember the thousands killed and jailed after those magic few days. He won't be there to honor the memory of that unknown man who stood in front of the tanks, or to see the spot where the Statue of Liberty-influenced Goddess of Liberty was erected.

Bill Clinton will be there is an honored guest of the Chinese Communist leadership.

White House press secretary Mike McCurry recently said Tiananmen Square is the White House equivalent of the South Lawn as the formal location for welcoming foreign leaders.

To refuse to go to Tiananmen Square would send the message "we are going to 'diss' you in a very major way," contrary to Clinton's efforts to foster better relations, McCurry said.

McCurry said that refusing to be received in the square "would do some violence to the idea that we are trying to work in a cooperative way to improve this relationship.

"It'd be as if someone visiting here said, 'Well, we really don't want to be greeted on the South Lawn of the White House, even though that's where people are greeted when they arrive for a state visit,'" he said.

The difference between the South Lawn and Tiananmen Square, Mr. McCurry, is that no students have been butchered on the grounds of the White House.

Bill Clinton's relationship with China is a special one, with his actions having led to instability in the entire Asiatic region. From the transfer of sensitive missile technology, to the blind-eye approach of the regime's actions in Tibet (which led to the installation of nuclear missiles there, thereby threatening India and forcing it to test its nuclear weapons), Clinton has proven that those who donate to the coffers of political parties do have their voices heard.

As he walks over the very ground which saw the blood of those students spilled less than a decade ago and just a few weeks after the anniversary, I hope Clinton recognizes the true effect of his Bismarkian realpolitik approach to China. Perhaps he must visit China as the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet, but as the leader of the freest nation he should inject some morality into his visit and refuse to place one foot in Tiananmen Square.

By treating China is a nation just like any other, the American president places China on the same level as those nations who do not routinely kill their citizens, jail and brutally torture them for "crimes" such as advocating freedom, force prisoners to make goods for Western consumption, and harvest their organs after their deaths -- though sometimes not even waiting for that -- for sale to the highest bidder. Some nations respect the rights of their citizens. China does not.

When he walks across the blood soaked square to greet the murderers of China I hope Bill Clinton remembers that. I think, however, that he will not.

The June 1998 Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.

"There's now no question but that Barry Goldwater contributed to enormous political change in the country. He changed the way we look at the American political world - the shift in the nation's political direction to the West - away from the East.

"Goldwater changed the country's political axis not only geographically but in terms of values and beliefs. He introduced modern conservative political thought to the national debate."

David Broder, Washington Post

A lot of things can be said about Barry Goldwater, things that at first may seem to be contradictory. A careful study, however, will show that Goldwater was wedded to one thing, an idea that helped to shift the Republican Party -- and modern conservatism -- temporarily back to its roots.

It was the love of individual freedom and a society of liberty.

The concepts he used in his 1964 acceptance speech to the Republican Party were said many times before and have been said many times since, but it was largely that speech and his candidacy which helped propel the conservative movement to push for smaller government and individual liberty.

Although he lost in 1964 -- in fact, quite badly -- to Lyndon Johnson, Goldwater ultimately won that election and several afterwards. Other more successful candidates, such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, owe much to Goldwater. Although he personally lost, his ideas won.

Liberal commentators often say that Goldwater's loss was a referendum on ideas, where the American public voted for "Great Society" government envisioned by Johnson and not the smaller government ethos argued for by Goldwater. Perhaps, in 1964, the American public did choose Johnson, but they later believed Goldwater.

"My life parallels that of twentieth-century America," Goldwater wrote in a 1988 autobiography. "A man rises from the ancient canyons of the Southwestern desert as his generation grows into the ages of the automobile, airplane, atom, outer space and supercomputers."

His life also changed twentieth-century politics and for that we can be grateful.

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