Where was Tsai?

One of the most important and overlooked developments of the Golden Weekend involves President Tsai. Where the hell was she?

She was out on the campaign trail, but she was working the secondary races like some unimportant party functionary who used to be important. Why was she in Penghu and doing evening rallies in Changhua and Nantou? She was in Taichung, but only in the morning for a car parade in rural Ta-an district.

This weekend was almost perfect for her. She needed to stand up in front of a huge crowd and let them cheer for her. It would have sent a clear message to the country that her party still strongly supports her and that she is confident and in charge. Further, she had an important message to send. After the controversy at the Golden Horse awards show, she said publicly, “There is no China Taiwan. There is only Taiwan.” That is a message that she should have delivered on a huge stage in front of a roaring crowd of Taiwan nationalists.

The marquee rally of the weekend was Sunday night in Kaohsiung. However, that was not the right place for Tsai. That rally had to be dominated by Chen Ju, who did a masterful job of turning a personal insult into a more general insult to all Taiwanese people. The appropriate rally was in Taipei, where the DPP is trying to hold its base rather than appeal to the median voter. Yao Wen-chih had a sizeable crowd dominated by independence fundamentalists. That is not Tsai’s natural base, but it would have been perfect for her to stand up in front of them, in the nation’s capital, and assert her authority as the nation’s and party’s leader by declaring forcefully that she never has and never will accept being called China Taiwan.

The fact that Tsai did not demand to be front and center on this crucial weekend does not bode well for her moving forward. Yes, her position as party leader will be strengthened more by winning Kaohsiung and Taichung than by insisting on a high profile speech. Still, her absence is a stunning admission of weakness.

The KMT has picked up on this, though not as much as one might expect. Eric Chu sarcastically invited her to come campaign for Su Tseng-chang in New Taipei, since every one of her visits costs Su 10,000 votes. I’m sure there are other commentators pointing out Tsai’s low profile, though I would have thought that it would be one of the KMT’s main talking points.

Actually, none of the main presidential contenders is having a banner election year. Wu Den-yi is having a worse campaign than Tsai. The KMT is basically in open revolt; every day another KMT person openly attacks or tries to distance himself from Wu. Chu and Lai are campaigning, but they are not being treated as superstars. This year, everyone in the KMT wants Han Kuo-yu, and the DPP’s most sought-after speakers are Chen Ju and Cheng Wen-tsan. (By the way, has anyone heard anything from Wayne Chiang recently? Didn’t he used to be the one that all the KMT people wanted to be seen with?)

6 Responses to “Where was Tsai?”

  1. John Says:

    If Han loses by a small margin (say <5%) he immediately becomes the KMT presidential frontrunner, doesn't he? He'd basically be Beto O'Rourke if the Democrats had basically no other fresh candidates.

  2. Joseph Says:

    I usually hate messaging-based arguments, but I feel like Tsai has really dropped the ball in this regard. Last week she put out one of those “I know everyone’s disappointed” announcements. I think that was a terrible idea. She should be trumpeting her policies, and at least give her base and light greens something like leadership. She could also indicate the direction she’ll go in to rebuild trust.
    Generally I think we’re at weird moment in Taiwan where everyone is unsatisfied but the vast light green/light blue majority don’t really know why. Tsai’s moderate DPP isn’t it, Han’s KMT is just a better-marketed retread of Ma’s KMT, at the end of the day Ko is just one guy struggling to stay relevant… so what’s next?

  3. rustie Says:

    Do you think momentum is against the KMT these last few days? The timing of the Golden Horse speech & its fallout, Wu Dun-yih’s fat female pig remark, & Han’s horrible debate perf is quite inconvenient for the KMT. It’s rather reminiscent of the Chou Tzuyu incident just before the 2016 election.

  4. Will We See A Ko Victory Or A Ting Victory In 2018 Taipei Mayoral Elections? Says:

    […] against Ko is strong enough in the pan-Green camp that they would not vote for Ko instead of Yao. Despite months of a subdued presence when it came to campaigning, Tsai has also finally come out to stump for Yao in the past month. Likewise, Ko voters may be […]

  5. Ed Says:

    Speaking of Wayne Chiang, Is this him standing next to Wang Jin-pyng and Han Kuo-yu at their rally last month? Perhaps he’s playing the long game.

  6. Ed Says:

    Oops, didn’t include the link: https://youtu.be/ASoM8UBhhpc?t=1293

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