Apparently, only when they perceive that it’s a Republican doing it:
WASHINGTON – SENIOR Chinese leaders have privately voiced fear over the soaring US budget deficit and are increasingly looking to diversify from the dollar, a Republican congressman said on Monday.
‘We heard across the board – in private – substantial, continuing and rising concern,’ Representative Mr Mark Kirk said after a trip to China that included talks with government officials and central bank chief Dr Zhou Xiaochuan.
‘It’s clear that China would like to diversify from its dollar investments,’ the lawmaker said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank.
Mr Kirk’s assessment differed with that of Treasury Secretary Mr Timothy Geithner, who said last week on a separate visit that Chinese leaders had expressed ‘justifiable confidence’ on the future of the recession-hit US economy.
Mr Kirk traveled with Representative Mr Rick Larsen, a member of President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party, who also painted a less gloomy picture of Chinese officials’ views.
China is the largest creditor to the United States with some 700 billion dollars invested in Treasury bonds. Dr Zhou earlier this year floated the idea of replacing the dollar with a basket of currencies as the benchmark global unit.
Mr Kirk said that Chinese leaders were sharply critical in private of the US Federal Reserve’s policy of ‘quantitative easing’ – a form of flooding the financial system with cash, which critics deride as printing imaginary money.
The United States has been running large budget shortfalls since the tenure of president George W. Bush.
Government officials estimate a deficit of 1.841 trillion US dollars for the 2009 budget.
Mr Kirk, a former diplomat who remains an active reservist in the US Navy, is seen as a rising star in the Republican Party and is eyeing a run next year for Mr Obama’s former US Senate seat in Illinois.
‘One of the messages I had – because we need to build trust and confidence in our number one creditor – is that the budget numbers that the US government has put forward should not be believed,’ Mr Kirk said.
‘Congress is actually going to spend quite a bit more,’ he said.
Probably, but I think the Chinese could have figured that out on their own without Kirk’s “help.” He should have saved his comments for stateside rather than blabbing to Chinese officials.
Kirk’s remarks have prompted both implied and stated criticism in the lefty blogosphere:
Eric Kleefeld – TPMDC: “Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) now appears to have taken a bold step in the debate over the budget deficit: Openly telling a foreign government not to trust the administration in Washington.”
Steve Benen – Washington Monthly: “In general, criticizing U.S. politicians by questioning their patriotism is cheap and unnecessary. But once in a while, Republican opposition to the administration is so counter-productive to the nation’s interests, it’s hard not to wonder whether the GOP official is deliberately trying to undermine the United States. ”
“Misguided bravado in advance of a campaign is understandable. Traveling overseas to undercut confidence in the United States is not.”
“possiblefuture”- Daily Kos: “If not exactly treasonous, isn’t this at least unpatriotic, for a minority Congressman to pretend he can speak for the American government and, in doing so, sabatoge our nation’s efforts to stabilize the global economy? […] So, why wasn’t Kirk censured? He has a right to his opinions, but when he speaks with foreign leaders who have a big influence over our economy, he has no right to misrepresent America’s interests.”
Isn’t it so nice to finally see liberals worried about Congressional politicos undermining a sitting President while on foreign soil? I remember when Pelosi went contra-US policy by travelling overseas and meeting face to face with Syrian president Bashar Assad, the most “senior official” to ever meet with Assad – which turned out to be a disaster. Syria, as I’m sure you know, was then and still is providing safe-haven for AQ terrorists who want to kill our troops in Iraq and Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists who don’t believe Israel has a right to exist. Liberals defended this attempt by Pelosi to (ahem) “normalize” relations with Syria, and the only “outrage” they could muster up about the controversy was over the fact that there was so little outrage over reports that Republican congressmen had visited Syria around the same time, too, and the trip didn’t generate the fanfare that Pelosi’s did.
Oh, and speaking of Syria, there’s another attempt at undermining a sitting US president that comes to mind, this time from Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-VA). He admitted in November 2005 that he visited several Middle Eastern heads of state in January 2002 to tell them that he believed the POTUS was planning on attacking Iraq. Direct quote:
WALLACE: Now, the President never said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat. As you saw, you did say that. If anyone hyped the intelligence, isn’t it Jay Rockefeller?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. The — I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I’ll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq — that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.
Bill Bennett had it right in his response to Rockefeller’s admission:
While Democrats in Washington are berating the White House for having prewar intelligence wrong, a high-profile U.S. senator, member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, who has a name more internationally recognizable than Richard Cheney’s, tells two putative allies (Saudi Arabia and Jordan) and an enemy who is allied with Saddam Hussein (Syria) that the United States was going to war with Iraq. This is not a prewar intelligence mistake, it is a prewar intelligence giveaway.
Syria is not only on the list of state sponsors of terrorism and the country many speculate is where Hussein has secreted weapons, it is also the country from which terrorists are flowing into Iraq to fight our troops and allies. Jordan and Saudi Arabia have had, over the years, conflicted loyalties. What was Senator Rockefeller doing? What was he thinking? And all this before President Bush even made a public speech about Iraq — to the U.N. or anyone else.
Liberal hero and icon Glenn Greenwald – who can now be read daily on the ultra-liberal Salon.com – wrote a response typical of the “defenses” being offered up about Rockefeller’s confession at the time. On the other hand this is what the liberal “outrage” sounded like:
I could go on and on about liberals going overseas and attempting to undermine sitting Republican presidents (Howard Dean, John Kerry, Jimmy Carter, and Baghdad Jim come to mind), but the point’s already been made without having to elaborate much more. Then it was a “free speech” issue. Now it’s “How dare a Republican Congressman attempt to undermine the Obama administration when we need to be putting up a united front!”
I welcome these bloggers to the mindset most conservatives have about politicos needing to be careful about what they say – and do – while they’re on foreign soil. It’s sure taken them long enough to come around.