In a land where “deep respect for elders” has served as a guiding principle for 2,500 years, the White House believes that the Chinese “will appreciate the ties and the bonds that the Obama family have with one another across generations.”
Or so Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff Tina Tchen would have you believe, and thus justify the taxpayers footing the bill for the first lady, her mother, and her daughters’ week-long trip to China, as reported by CNS News.
What other administration officials described as “soft diplomacy,” Tchen emphasized “what a real treat for Mrs. Robinson, for the first lady, for her two daughters to travel together and to see these places and experience them together.” What the American public has to gain by paying for all the Secret Service and military expenses involved in such a lavish excursion wasn’t made exactly clear.
“[Mrs. Obama] will be able to share her experience with Americans,” Tchen added, because “PBS and its network of millions of teachers and students will follow the trip, and the first lady will be posting blogs and travel information for each step of the way.”
Officials noted that Mrs. Obama would not be raising issues of human rights, trade relations, or international hot spots with the Chinese, but that she would meet with her counterpart, China’s first lady.
After skirting the question of cost, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told a conference call that “the purpose of the trip is to build those people-to-people connections; of reaching out to young people in China, broadening the ties between our two countries.”
In a country of 1.351 billion people, it would seem the four ladies certainly have their work cut out for them.
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