Jiang's Breakfast Club

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WASHINGTON: Pass the cornflakes, Newt. Members of Congress breakfasted with Jiang Zemin Thursday, and presumably, they used extra-long spoons. After becoming bosom buddies with President Clinton, the Chinese leader faces heated criticism from the opposition party who, not being in the White House, have the luxury of being righteous about China.

"We do not believe that freedom is limited by geography or by history," Majority Leader Trent Lott said he told Jiang. "We believe that all men and women should be able to live, work and speak free from governmental interference." That's not all he said. Lott, Gingrich and 43 other congressmen gathered round the table to press Jiang on their pet grievances, and none of them minced words. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said Jiang (who understands some English) "winced" when he called abortions "crimes against humanity."

Clearly, no communist regime plays well in the U.S. not even one that provides billion-dollar contracts for American industry. Clinton himself knew this in 1992, when he accused George Bush of coddling the enemy. When Clinton himself became the leader of the free world, he got a big dose of realpolitik and it will probably take more than breakfast to give congressmen a similar slice of humble pie.