Indonesia's George W. Bush

Indonesia's George W. Bush

Indonesia's George W. Bush

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
July 24 2001 5:34 PM

Indonesia's George W. Bush

Yesterday, President Bush welcomed the decision of the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly to elevate a new president, Megawati Sukarnoputri. "We look forward to working with President Megawati and her team," said Bush. Chatterbox suspects that the more Bush learns about Megawati, the more he'll like her. He should start with the excellent profile of her in today's Washington Post:

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Megawati ... loves cartoons, which she sometimes watches by herself, according to friends. She also has a distaste for policy debates, media interviews, extemporaneous speeches and many other traditional obligations of a national leader. ... She is the daughter of Indonesia's founding president ... Her supporters describe her as politically shrewd and as something of a stealth politician who leaves her opponents ... guessing about just where she stands. ... [S]he remained largely in the shadows, saying little in public and paying scant attention to the pressing tasks delegated to her ... preferring instead to devote much of her time to ceremonial duties. She has gone shopping at moments of political crisis, most notably when the former dictator, Suharto, was driven from power. She has little appetite for lengthy meetings--she is known for walking out after just 15 minutes. She rarely immerses herself in briefing papers. ... None of that seems to matter to her followers, though, who refer to her as "Mother Mega," believing that she, like her father, will restore Indonesia's lost pride and glory. ... Although she grew up in the country's presidential palaces, Megawati displayed no interest in politics until she was 40. ... Megawati is expected to bring a different tone to the presidential palace. After [her predecessor], who has a proclivity for blurting out whatever is on his mind, political observers here say that perhaps it is time for someone more circumspect. "She believes in an economy of words," said Dennis Heffernan, an American political consultant here. "She thinks most talk is noise."

Chatterbox expects Bush and Megawati to get along famously. White House aides will soon be sent scurrying for answers to W.'s questions: Can she golf? Does she fish? How's her slider? What nickname should POTUS give her? How about "Megawatt"? Maybe that one would lighten up the mood in California.

Oh, and one other source of kinship: Megawati's rival is contesting the vote that put her in office. Not to worry. "The people of Indonesia, by addressing their leadership crisis under their constitution and laws, have shown commitment to the rule of law and democracy," said Bush. "We hope all parties will work together to maintain peace, support the constitution and promote national reconciliation." Jim Baker, your flight to Jakarta is waiting.