Nation: A Case Study in Confusion

Reagan's Taiwan tangle exposes basic campaign weaknesses

"I misstated." With that flat admission, Ronald Reagan last week tried to clarify, once again, his confusing views on exactly what sort of relations he favors with Taiwan. Reagan grudgingly backed away from what he called his mis-statement—a pledge to establish "an official governmental relationship" with Taiwan—and promised merely to abide by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which expressly declares that relations between the two nations must be conducted by a "nongovernmental" body.

Campaign Director William Casey dismissed the entire episode as a "semantic mishmash," but the strained faces of staffers—and of Reagan and...

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