While most of the news these days seems to be an endless train of unrelated tittle tattle, every so often two stories coincide in a way that sheds new light on our society. More to the point, it allows a writer such as myself to take two apparently unrelated issues and smoosh them together because they both involve someone, or something, named Bo.
Upon waking up this morning, I was greeted with the news that the trial for disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, former mayor of the city of Chongquing and prominent voice within the Chinese Communist Party, had begun. He stands accused of bribery, corruption, and abuse of power, the latter charge stemming from his alleged involvement in covering up the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, whom Bo’s wife has already been convicted of murdering.
Apparently, Bo was quite feisty during today’s proceedings. The BBC said that he claimed to be “coerced into making a confession and rubbished testimony from witnesses who included his wife.” You can tell this quote is from the BBC, because it uses the word “rubbished”. Bo also told the court, “I hope the judge will try this case fairly and justly according to the law of the country.”
Not likely, say those who believe this trial to be political in nature. Bo Xilai was a rising star in Chinese politics, winning enormous support in his home city with a populist message that hearkened back to the early days of Chinese communism under Mao Zedong. That likely made him a threat to the ruling establishment in Beijing, which is currently more concerned with maintaining GDP growth than staying true to Maoist ideals.
The controversy surrounding Heywood’s murder was, depending on how you look at it, either the final straw for reputation-conscious party leaders or the perfect opportunity that they had been looking for to take Bo down. Either way, there are concerns that Bo’s trial could be less than fair. The BBC noted that, “Foreign journalists have not been allowed in,” though there is an official microblog updating the public on the days events (provided you speak Mandarin). This sets my mind at ease, because they say anything you read on a blog must be true.
Bo Xilai was not the only Bo who was displaced from his high-ranking position this week. The Obama family’s top dog also found himself no longer the center of attention when new “sister” Sunny arrived from Michigan all shiny and new. In a news update containing no less than three exclamation points, the White House website announced the addition of a new female Portugese Water Dog puppy to the Obama ranks. The breed was chosen because it is supposedly hypoallergenic, though Wikipedia assures me there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog and this breed simply sheds less than others. (One more Obama not quite living up to their original promises? Oh, slam!)
Bo was once the talk of the town in Washington, D.C., a gift to the Obama family from former Senator Ted Kennedy. Walk into any D.C. memorabilia shop, and you were sure to see Bo plush toys, books about Bo, pictures of Bo, etc. And unlike George W. Bush’s dog Barney, who once was videotaped biting a Reuters reporter, Bo has been fairly well behaved: no murders or abuses of power to speak of for this guy.
So why is Bo being forced to surrender his top spot to little miss Sunny? Typically, the White House blog announcement tried to put a positive spin on the situation, saying it was for Bo’s own good since he often got lonely without the company of other dogs. (Apparently, Bo is too much of a celebrity to make an appearance at the local dog park.) Normally, I wouldn’t buy such an explanation, but since it came from a blog…
And thus it was that the two “Bo”s were each brought down by scheming politicians, forced to yield to a new generation that had only their worst interests at heart. Many years they will they spend locked away, pondering the injustice of their respective situations. Who would have thought that two figures so unrelated in appearance and yet so closely intertwined in their convictions would have both made it into the news this week? And who would have thought I could have written a blog post making it seem like the two stories were somehow connected? But you know what they say about things you read on blogs: they must be true!!!
(With all those final exclamation points, I’m hoping to get promoted to official White House blogger any day now!)