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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 01/19/2011

Sen. Harry Reid calls Hu Jintao a 'dictator'

By Rachel Weiner

In an interview in Nevada Tuesday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) waded into dicey diplomatic territory by referring to Chinese President Hu Jintao as a "dictator."

Asked about the tax-cut compromise at the end of last year, Reid said our system requires compromise. "I am going to go back to Washington tomorrow and meet with the President of China," Reid told reporter Jon Ralston. "[Hu] is a dictator. He can do a lot of things through the form of government they have."

Reid quickly realized he could have chosen his words more carefully, quickly adding, "Maybe I shouldn't have said dictator, but they have a different type of government than we have and that is an understatement."

Hu is in Washington for a summit and state dinner with President Obama. It will probably be his last visit as China's president. After coming into office with a gentle approach towards China, Obama has become more hard-nosed and pugnacious in clashes on economic policy, human rights and North Korea.

The full interview (Reid's comments on Hu come around 4:15)

By Rachel Weiner  | January 19, 2011; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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I am no Harry Reid supporter, but I would want at least one of our elected officials to call a spade a spade and not bow and genuflect to a criminal enterprise with state dinner.

Posted by: fakedude2 | January 19, 2011 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Harry Reid is probably the worse senate leader ever. This is clueless and has failed the Democrats and whole country.

Read Webster's definition below:

Hu Jintao does not have absolute power. He served at the behest of a representive system of representive. The system is not democratic nor too representive but it's not a dictorship.

What you have in China is a rule by committee.

Harry Reid should know better but he's too much of a clown.

"a : a person granted absolute emergency power; especially : one appointed by the senate of ancient Rome b : one holding complete autocratic control c : one ruling absolutely and often oppressively "

Posted by: mr_hudson | January 19, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

In fact, Mr. Harry Reid wants a war with China so he could have a chance to be re-elected next time or to occupy White House.

Posted by: George6819 | January 19, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Reid is an embarrassment. Why did he have to show the world that our leader in the Senate is clueless about the other most importance country in the world?

Harry, you got to read some books, any book about morden China.

Posted by: Jeremy13 | January 19, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

@ captainkon

He is not a dictator. He is a representative of a small group of people who collectively dictate as one entity.

Posted by: aakk123 | January 19, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Uh...Hu IS a dictator. Does anyone here actually think he's duly elected in a free electoral environment?


Posted by: captainkona | January 19, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

They're afraid that if they use the word authoritarian, people may actually look into it's meaning, ruining left/right politics for everyone.

Posted by: RandomAnon | January 19, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

This is not diplomacy it is incredible stupidity from a clueless elected official.

Is Harry Reid and other powerful politicians just trying to make another enemy to keep the war machine fueling their re-election campaigns?

Do some research on what Harry Reid's State means to gain for continued military contracts and expansion. Insulting a visiting dignitary is low class and creates a bad image for the U.S.

Posted by: Ancalimon | January 19, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

@BarrySanders - Thanks for that, it was amusing.

As for Reid, skipping a state dinner with a Chinese head of state is a snub that won't be forgotten. The Chinese were already pissed off they didn't get a state dinner during the last visit, and that Falun Gong thing in Lafayette Park didn't go down to well either.

Obama would do well to stanch any controversy this time around, while still remaining firm in the presence of our guests. This means avoiding any chance for the Chinese to lose face. China should be engaged directly, meaning face to face, since they do not read sunbs correctly.

Posted by: ennepe68 | January 19, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Harry Reid calls Hu Jintao a 'dictator'.

This coming from a guy who rammed the health care takeover through Congress over the loud protests of 2/3 of the nation.

Posted by: penniless_taxpayer | January 19, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

It is Dear Leaders instead of Dear Leader, but I understand what he was trying to say.

Posted by: Elisa2 | January 19, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

It is Dear Leaders instead of Dear Leader, but I understand what he was trying to say.

Posted by: Elisa2 | January 19, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Hu's not a dictator. He's a first baseman.

As part of the cultural outreach, Obama is hosting a softball game between White House staffers and the Chinese delegation. Obama is coaching the Chinese, nicknamed the "Reds," and Biden is coaching the staffers. Biden tried to get some intelligence from Obama to prep his team. A transcript leaked of Obama's conversation with Biden before the game:

Biden: Well then who's on first?

Obama: Yes.

Biden: I mean the fellow's name.

Obama: Hu.

Biden: The guy on first.

Obama: Hu.

Biden: The first baseman.

Obama: Hu.

Biden: The guy playing...

Obama: Hu is on first!

Biden: I'm asking YOU who's on first.

Obama: That's the man's name.

Biden: That's who's name?

Obama: Yes.

Biden: Well go ahead and tell me.

Obama: That's it.

Biden: That's who?

Obama: Yes.


Biden: Look, you gotta first baseman?

Obama: Certainly.

Biden: Who's playing first?

Obama: That's right.

Biden: When you pay off the first baseman every month, who gets the money?

Obama: Every dollar of it.

Biden: All I'm trying to find out is the fellow's name on first base.

Obama: Hu.

Biden: The guy that gets...

Obama: That's it.

Biden: Who gets the money...

Obama: He does, every dollar. Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.

Biden: Who's wife?

Obama: Yes.


Obama: What's wrong with that?

Biden: Look, all I wanna know is when you sign up the first baseman, how does he sign his name?

Obama: Hu.

Biden: The guy.

Obama: Hu.

Biden: How does he sign...

Obama: That's how he signs it.

Biden: Who?

Obama: Yes.


Biden: All I'm trying to find out is what's the guy's name on first base.

Obama: No. What is on second base.

Biden: I'm not asking you who's on second.

Obama: Hu's on first.

Biden: One base at a time!

Obama: Well, don't change the players around.

Biden: I'm not changing nobody!

Obama: Take it easy, buddy.

Biden: I'm only asking you, who's the guy on first base?

Obama: That's right.

Biden: Ok.

Obama: All right.


Biden: What's the guy's name on first base?

Obama: No. What is on second.

Biden: I'm not asking you who's on second.

Obama: Hu's on first.

Biden: I don't know.

Obama: He's on third, we're not talking about him.

Biden: Now how did I get on third base?

Obama: Why you mentioned his name.

Biden: If I mentioned the third baseman's name, who did I say is playing third?

Obama: No. Hu's playing first.

Biden: What's on first?

Obama: What's on second.

Biden: I don't know.

Obama: He's on third.

Biden: There I go, back on third again!

Posted by: BarrySanders20 | January 19, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Hu is not a dictator by any means; he is a leader of an authoritarian government who only gets maximum of 8 years as the president of China. Reid, a top US official, thinks and openly calls Hu a dictator, an ideology as old as his age, is exactly the reasons that makes the relationship with China so difficult.

Posted by: dec102 | January 19, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Hu Jintao "a dictator?" I don't see thousands of Chinese disappear as it happened under our own -CIA installed- former dictators in Latin America, Anastasio Somoza, Rios Mont, Augusto Pinochet, Jorge Vindela, Alfrendo Stroenner, Manuel Noriega, and other lesser brutes.

I definitely love Harry Reid, and I have used many frank and wise quotations from him in my writings. But I believe he was mauled in the Nevada polls, and he barely survived re-election with a razor thin
vote margin. It is natural, therefore, for him to try to re-capture some of his lost prestige and influence by falling back to the "name calling" anti-communist rhetoric of the Cold War era.

I give him credit for recanting his statement as soon as he uttered. I hope that next try he would try something smarter to lift his status and prestige up to the the pre-election level.
Nikos Retsos, retired professor

Posted by: Nikos_Retsos | January 19, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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