Missing the Story

I was going to ignore this snarky WaPo Style section story on how Bush is so stupid and close-minded he refuses to attend anything but the official events when travelling to foreign countries (no museums! no plays! no interpretive dances! the horror!). But then Amy Welborn posted this story from the A section about a side-trip Bush did make.

BEIJING, Nov. 20 -- President Bush challenged China's repression of religion Sunday as he opened a diplomatically sensitive visit here, but he kept most of his focus on an economic and security agenda that included a multibillion-dollar sale of U.S.-built airplanes.
In his first public appearance, even before the welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, Bush attended a service at a state-sanctioned Protestant church to send a message about free expression of faith in a country that harshly smothers it. The president has been offended by the recent harassment of religious people trying to practice their faith without state approval at underground churches, aides said.
"My hope is that the government of China will not fear Christians who gather to worship openly," the president told reporters outside Gangwashi Church, a modest brick building and one of a handful of official Protestant churches in Beijing. "Ahealthy society is a society that welcomes all faiths."

In other words, while in China, Bush politely sidestepped the programmed regime-legitimating photos at the tourist traps and spent his time showing his solidarity with oppressed Chinese citizens who might otherwise have no chance to tell their stories. Unbelievable. Bush brings to mind --in wholesome juxtaposition-- the incident Solzhenitsyn recounts in Gulag Archipelago of the celebrated playwright Maxim Gorky's official visit to the gulag. (But, alas, if only Bush had Clinton's savoir faire.)

UPDATE: My brother stopped by for dinner and I was recounting to him my outrage. "Feh," he shrugged. "It's the Washington Post. It's the Style section. They're paid to be shallow."