The Charlie Rose Show is the hour of television that America’s brain dead elites watch to reaffirm the tired cliches that constitute their provincial cosmopolitan worldview. Rose himself, the favored Mouth of Elite Opinion, is the ultimate nadir of the American elites’ corruption of the traditional American can-do spirit. Rose constantly badgers his guests about what the solution is to intractable problems.
For instance, Rose incessantly asks what the solution to the Israel-Palestinian issue is, implicitly assuming it’s the two-state solution where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side in peace. Some guests dutifully echo the conventional elite wisdom that all that has to happen is happy reason to infect a brave Israeli leader and a brave Palestinian leader and peace will break out all over. This ritualistic performance of elite liturgy is usually sufficient to satisfy Rose and his audience’s need for cliche validation.
Some guests, however, occasionally accidentally hint that they know the real solution will be one of two outcomes:
- Israelis in the Mediterranean
- Palestinians in the Syrian Desert
Ted Koppel once had the bright idea of having a televised “town meeting” that was half-Palestinian and half-Israeli. The concept was based on the naive elite view that, once you eliminate the misunderstood, whatever’s left, however improbable, must be unconditional love. Even Koppel, with Reality Elimination Field turned to full power, was taken aback by the crackling energy of the hatred in the room. There was dark primordial enmity there that does not sleep, even under the tender ministrations of American elite enlightenment.
At the two minute mark in his interview with Dr. Kissinger, Rose asks the good Doctor about one of the Twenty Key Quotes that make up conventional American historical wisdom. Dr. Kissinger once supposedly asked Chou En-lai, one of Mao’s chief stooges, what he thought the impact of the French Revolution would be. The story goes that Chou face assumed a wise and inscrutable look as he answered, “It’s too soon to tell”.
Or, as a laundry detergent commercial of my youth jingled, “Ancient Chinese secret”.
In responding to Rose, the Doctor does his best Chou imitation and inscrutably remarks that he doesn’t remember an incident like that but that it makes a good story.
And good story it probably is, being more truthful than factual. According to the Financial Times:
The former premier’s answer has become a frequently deployed cliche, used as evidence of the sage Chinese ability to think long-term – in contrast to impatient westerners.
The trouble is that [C]hou was not referring to the 1789 storming of the Bastille in a discussion with Richard Nixon during the late US president’s pioneering China visit. [C]hou’s answer related to events only three years earlier – the 1968 students’ riots in Paris, according to Nixon’s interpreter at the time.
At a seminar in Washington to mark the publication of Henry Kissinger’s book, On China, Chas Freeman, a retired foreign service officer, sought to correct the long-standing error.
“I distinctly remember the exchange. There was a misunderstanding that was too delicious to invite correction,” said Mr Freeman.
He said [C]hou had been confused when asked about the French Revolution and the Paris Commune. “But these were exactly the kinds of terms used by the students to describe what they were up to in 1968 and that is how [C]hou understood them.”
Asked to comment, the Mouth of Kissinger reported that the good Doctor:
…has no precise recollection but that the Freeman version seems much more plausible
The Financial Times can’t help itself and concludes with a cliche about a cliche:
The oft-quoted Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”, does not exist in China itself, scholars say.