So Eric Chu has announced that he will be missing the KMT Central Standing Committee meetings for the next three weeks because he has more important things to do. Specifically, he has to be present at the New Taipei City Council for interpellations. Well, this is another unexpected twist.
Surprisingly to me, many politicians are not calling him out on this obvious ploy. So let’s humor him and assume for a minute that he is telling the truth. I guess that makes him a very conscientious mayor. It also makes him something of a simpleton. On the one hand, it means that he thinks it is much more important to answer routine questions about local minutiae such as whether a particular road in Linkou will be paved in July or August than to oversee a momentous decision that will affect the entire country for the next four years. Moreover, it means he has no sense of flexibility. Mayors take leave all the time from these types of duties. That’s why they have deputy mayors. Besides, didn’t he spend a whole lot of money and political capital to bribe the TSU councilor to vote for his speaker candidate precisely so he could control the agenda of the council? Isn’t this the perfect time for the KMT speaker to decide that it is imperative to interrupt the interpolations on Wednesday morning so that the entire city council can go on a fact-find mission to Wulai to ensure that the recent drought hasn’t affected the mineral levels in the water at all the illegal hot springs resorts? Really, it’s so unflattering to Chu to take him at his word. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is lying for political purposes.
I can think of two reasons that Chu might not want to be at the CSC over the next three weeks. First, he might not want to take the blame for killing Hung’s chances at the nomination. He’d rather someone else chair the meetings when they determine that the procedures used ensure she doesn’t pass the threshold and when they confirm those results (or, if she passes the threshold, to accept or reject those results). If this is the case, he’s a spineless, gutless leader. He’s also not very good at hiding his fingerprints. If he wanted Hau to take the blame, he should not have had his man, Lee Si-chuan, overrule Hau’s decision to let Hung have four public forums to present her ideas to the electorate and to hold the polling at the end of June. I don’t think this is the answer.
Second, I think he wants to be elsewhere in the third week because that will be the meeting in which the CSC has to decide what to do next. Let’s back up. Hau’s original plan was for the polling to be done in late June, but Lee overruled him and moved the polling up to mid-June. Chu purposely moved the polling up so that the results would be presented during the New Taipei City interpellation. He intentionally created this scheduling conflict so that he would not be in the room on June 17. He must have decided on some strategy for that meeting that requires his absence. This is apparently a fairly recent decision on Chu’s part, because Hau didn’t know about it when he agreed to stretch the polling out until late June.
I’m not sure what Chu’s endgame is. My best guess is that he has finally come to the conclusion that he may have to accept the nomination. This would be difficult if he were chairing the meeting because it would require him to recognize a motion putting him in the running and then tacitly accept that idea by not shooting the motion down immediately. It will be much more publicly presentable if he is not there. Hau could accept a motion to hold a poll between Chu, Wang, Wu, and whoever else, with the nomination being offered to the winner. They could even hold the poll immediately. That way, when the poll results are presented to the CSC, Chu will simply be able to bow to the party’s decision and reluctantly accept the burden of the nomination. Everyone saves face. Of course, there is really no need for all this tortuous theater. Chu could have simply announced that he was willing to take on the duty of running for president at any time – including right now – and the KMT would happily have nominated him. Sometimes people overthink things.
If Chu still doesn’t want to be the nominee, I don’t know why he doesn’t want to chair the June 17 meeting. It can’t be because he has agreed to let Hau ramrod some decision through. Hau wasn’t privy to the scheduling ruse, or, presumably, to the grand strategy. If he wants Wang or Wu to be the nominee, he would do better to chair the meeting and shepherd that decision through.
Frankly though, I have very little confidence in predicting or explaining Chu’s actions because I have no idea what his underlying goals are. Nothing he has done since taking over the party chair has made a whole lot of sense. Maybe we will understand this particular decision in three weeks. Maybe we will still be scratching our heads in confusion.
[Update 14 hours later: Never mind. Apparently Chu has decided that he doesn’t need to be present at the June 17 interpellations, so he can chair the CSC after all. Whatever he was thinking, he changed his mind again. I’m starting to wonder if he thinks ahead at all. At any rate, I think the KMT had better start looking for a new future leader. The current one seems completely lost in national politics.]