Dana Milbank's "Washington Sketch" columns on page 2 of the Washington Post often provide not just Milbank's trademark snark, but some interesting first-person observations on the political scene. Friday's offering on the state visit of communist China dictator Hu Jintao seems to feel Hu's pain. Every perceived slight was magnified. The screaming Chinese woman protester screamed on and on, but Milbank even finds "indignity" in the vice president's choice of eyewear:
The protocol-obsessed Chinese leader suffered a day full of indignities -- some intentional, others just careless. The visit began with a slight when the official announcer said the band would play the "national anthem of the Republic of China" -- the official name of Taiwan. It continued when Vice President Cheney donned sunglasses for the ceremony, and again when Hu, attempting to leave the stage via the wrong staircase, was yanked back by his jacket. Hu looked down at his sleeve to see the president of the United States tugging at it as if redirecting an errant child.
Post readers may think immediately of now Pulitzer-Prize-winning Post fashion critic Robin Givhan, who tried to elevate Cheney's wearing a parka on a cold day at Auschwitz into an international incident. Milbank's suggesting that Team Bush's welcoming of Hu is a bit chilly, which it was. But if it was cozier, they would be more appalling -- and no doubt, the Post would criticize that as well. It's obvious that the "indignities" of having your jacket tugged or being greeted with the affront of sunglasses are nothing compared to political executions, forced abortions, labor camps, and other daily indignities that Hu's dictatorship forces on the Chinese people.