The United States will no longer treasure stability over democracy in the Middle East, according to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's speech Monday in Cairo. But what about in the Far East? Today's lead editorial in the Washington Post reminds us that Vietnam is a place "where a citizen can be sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment for the crime of denigrating Communist Party officials in e-mails." But what to do about it? The editorial can't come up with much of a stick for President Bush to wield in today's White House get-together with Vietnam's prime minister.
The Post grudgingly concedes that human rights shouldn't get in the way of Vietnam's bid to join the World Trade Organization; nor should it get in the way of improving military ties between the two nations. No, human rights and democracy are best brought up separately, as part of a "two-sided agenda." The U.S. should preach democracy, the editorial goes on to read, because of its interest in "stable development" in the region. Which begs the question: Does China seem unstable to you? Don't blame the Post for failing to have all the answers, but it could have at least ribbed the Bush administration for pretending that it does, or for pretending that the days of weighing democracy against other interests are over.
Today's Wall Street Journal editorial page worries that senators are being silly for starting to get religion on global warming. But after a desperate effort to discredit the prevailing scientific consensus, the Journal editorial abruptly shifts gears: "A warmer Earth may not be any worse than a colder one." Lawyers call that alternative pleading.