he controversy: It's no secret that struggling GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman served as President Obama's ambassador to China, and that he speaks Mandarin. "But is Jon Huntsman really fluent in Chinese?" asks Geoffrey Sant at Slate. "The answer seems to be no." When Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert asked Huntsman to show off his linguistic abilities on The Colbert Report, Huntsman rattled off a sentence to the audience's delight. His translation: "I just said you ought to consider being my running mate for vice president." But other Mandarin speakers say Huntsman mangled the language, saying something closer to, "I really want you to do my vice-America president."
The reaction: Give the man a break, says Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy. "He might be exaggerating his abilities a bit," but it sounds like he can at least make himself understood. Even if he spoke perfectly, it's not like "Xi Jinping would be so impressed he'd forgive America's debts and let the yuan float on the spot." This wasn't Huntsman's only mistake, though, says Joel Herrick at Shanghaist. On CNN, Huntsman absurdly referred to himself in Mandarin as "Mr. Jon Huntsman," which, as Sant points out, sounds to a Chinese speaker like "the esteemed Mr. Huntsman" sounds to us. Some say "any publicity is good publicity," says James Crugnale at Mediaite. But somehow I doubt that this revelation will lift the former Utah governor's "0 percent national polling."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Sorry Belle Knox, porn still oppresses women
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Watch The Daily Show mock Fox News' confused man-crush on Vladimir Putin
- Religious liberty should be a liberal value, too
- Why is American internet so slow?
- 10 things you need to know today: March 8, 2014
- Why states should stop limiting the alcohol content in your beer
- Don't worry: World War III will almost certainly never happen
Subscribe to the Week