The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

First lady’s China trip is a circus of jump rope, kicking cocks, and an obnoxious Chinese advance man

First lady Michelle Obama plays table tennis as Peng Liyuan (R), wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, looks on during a visit of Beijing Normal School, a school that prepares students for universities abroad, in Beijing March 21, 2014. (REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool) First lady Michelle Obama plays table tennis as Peng Liyuan (R), wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, looks on during a visit of Beijing Normal School, a school that prepares students for universities abroad, in Beijing March 21, 2014. (REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool)  

The press on first lady Michelle Obama‘s taxpayer-funded trip to China has been restrictive, with no reporters traveling with her and little opportunity for media to ask questions. Even so, the White House pool reports from China are nothing short of colorful and weird.

So much for warding off bizarre press reports.

“Event below marred for press by obnoxious chinese advance man screaming and shoving us behind his ever moving red tape line,” wrote NYT‘s Jane Parlez over the weekend in a FLOTUS pool report.

Despite apologies for writing from her iPhone, she managed to keep things exciting. “Word certainly spread about FLOTUS in downtown xi’an,” she explained, setting the scene. “Big crowds on sidewalks as she left city wall complex, three and four deep for a number of blocks. Family welcomed by tall spear carrying men dressed in warrior costumes from Tang Dynasty, 618 to 907 AD.”

There were also shuttlecocks (as in the cone projectiles used in badminton). FLOTUS even kicked one.

“On the walkway at the top of the wall, Flotus and family watched a demo of jump rope and shuttlecock kicking by students from the northwest polytechnic university high school. Flotus accepted invitation to jump rope, doffed kitten heels for flats and did a few turns with the rope. She gamely kicked a shuttlecock …. Very pretty with yellow pink and red feathers – with the side of her foot, the technique shown to her by a chinese instructor.”

And, of course, the girls, Sasha and Malia, received gifts.

“Flotus and girls given some gifts: Rubik cubes (signify wisdom said Mr. Yu) and some paper dragons and phoenixes.” (Who’s Mr. Yu? Yu Dahu, explains the pool report, is a tour guide offered up by the city administration. Parlez repeatedly refers to him as “Mr. Yu.”)

Over the weekend, McClatchy reported that the first lady and her daughters dodged the media at the Great Wall of China by taking a sneaky touristy toboggan exit and thereby avoiding photographers.

“It was a brilliant fake-out by a publicity-weary presidential spouse, who seems to yearn for fun moments that won’t be accompanied by hundreds of camera clicks,” said the McClatchy report. “Reporters thought she would descend on a gondola from the Great Wall, the same way she’d gone up and the journalists had gone down. Instead, the journalists were left waiting in a parking lot until learning about her final descent from White House officials.

Continuing with what has been shoddy treatment of the press even before the trip began, Parlez, in an earlier weekend report, explained that the first lady, her daughters and her mother arrived at the Museum of Terra Cotta Warriors. As the result of the reporter being kept too far from the scene to actually report it properly, it’s a hilarious mix of strange, pointless observations that include the girls, disinterested and in tight pants, and height comparisons between Michelle and a phalanx of warriors.

“Family stood on terrace looking down into what is known as Pit 1, as Cao Wei, gave description. Pool kept far away, no clue what was said. Michelle seemed to ask questions and gesture. Girls dressed in black tight fitting pants seemed vaguely interested. Family walked around one side of pit – about size of two football fields covered with arched ceiling like an airplane hangar. Family stepped into one end of pit to look at a phalanx of warriors being pieced together by archelogists and restoration experts. The line of warriors chosen for inspection seemed to be about same height as Michelle, some of the warriors are shorter. Each has a different facial stenographer. The site attracted 5 million visitors last year, one of China’s star tourist places. It was swept clean of people during Obama visit, a small crowd waited outside until the family left. Pool holding in van as we prepare to head for Xi’an city wall.”

To quell complaints of media access to the first lady, the White House Press Office released an extremely boring, sanitized, vanilla-infused Q & A with the first lady about her visit in China. It is from Caixin Online. Questions included how she prepared for her trip, her relationship with President Xi Jinping’s wife, her legacy, what her “real” life is like, and the “White House Kitchen Garden” as well as her “Let’s Move” campaign.

Here’s an example of the (YAAAWWN) worst of it: “I hate to disappoint people, but real life in the White House is nothing like what you see in that television show. In real life, everyone in the White House — my husband and I and every member of our extraordinary staff —- is there for one reason: because we love our country and want to serve it. And that’s what we focus on every day: how to give more Americans a chance to fulfill their dreams, to get a good education, get a good job to support their families, and so much more.”

The report did include at least some of her thoughts on the media.

Oh boy, the first lady is doing her own press? “During my time in China, I’ll be sharing my experiences via Twitter and Instagram, and I’ll be posting a daily travel blog complete with photos and videos. I’ll be answering questions from students across America, and I’ll be sharing the stories of the Chinese students I meet along with interesting facts about China’s history and culture.”

And on the importance of the media: “It’s important to ensure that information and ideas flow freely over the Internet and through the media because that’s how we learn about each other and it’s how we decide which ideas we think are best, by debating them vigorously and deciding for ourselves. My husband and I know from experience that this can be a messy process — we get plenty of questioning and criticism from our media and our fellow citizens — but we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world because time and again we have seen that countries are stronger and more prosperous when the voices of all their citizens can be heard.”

Right. She wouldn’t trade those media interviews for anything. They’re so important for a “free flow” of information. That’s why she wouldn’t let the stinky press anywhere near her on her voyage.