It may sound strange, but the only way the President thinks he can forge any kind of relationship with Chinese President Hu Jintao is over a meal. When Mr. Bush went to China last fall, he said he wanted to spend more time getting to know what this enigmatic figure running a country of 1.3 billion people really thinks. Hu's response: Let's talk at dinner.
Fast forward to today's rather awkward White House meeting -- again the two leaders had their most heart to heart moments at lunch. The formal meetings, you see, are attended by too many aides. Even the one-on-one meeting has 12 people I'm told.
Today, most of Mr. Bush's job was keeping smoke from coming out of Hu's ears.
If you watched TV at all today, you saw a protester from the spiritual group Falun Gong slipped into the White House today as a reporter (she's been here before in fact) and proceeded to shout at Hu during his remarks. The gaffe was a major embarrassment for the White House and a major irritant to China. The Chinese negotiated every detail with the administration to make sure Hu was greeted as a full U.S. partner -- an equal on the world stage. And then this.
This was a visit about images today. The Chinese took care of that. Back home, the protester getting all the coverage in this country was never seen on Chinese television.