On Wednesday we mentioned

On Wednesday we mentioned that Assistant Secretary of State Jim Kelly would be speaking to the foreign press yesterday and that he’d certainly get asked about the delay in the appointment of Doug Paal to the AIT Directoship in Taipei.

He did. Here’s how it went.

Q Jay Chen, Central News Agency, Taiwan. Sir, four months ago at the same podium, you told us that an announcement could be expected about the new AIT director in Taipei. I wonder whether that statement still holds true today.

MR. KELLY: Yes, it does. (Laughter.)

Q When can we expect an announcement? And specifically, is Douglas Paal still being considered for that job?

MR. KELLY: I can’t comment on any appointments that might be made before they are made, but I was hopeful then and have been disappointed that we haven’t been able to make an announcement during that time. But I, frankly, do expect that we will be able to make an announcement within the next few weeks. But you know, it’s the nature of the world and of the bureaucracy that until something actually happens, it doesn’t happen. So I’m just telling you my best guess and expectation that there should be an announcement of a representative to be director of the American Institute in Taipei before long.

We also have a report from the public event at which Kelly and renowned China-hand Chas Freeman spoke out on the oft-on-TPM-mentioned New Republic article.

(Note: Unlike the passage above, what follows is not a verbatim transcript. This comes from contemporaneous notes taken by an attendee at the luncheon in question.)

Written Question from the Audience: What are your views of the recent New Republic article regarding Douglas Paal, and do you feel that the issues raised in the article are legitimate issues for the public to raise?

Answer, James Kelly:

I have just returned from Asia and have not read the article. In fact,
I haven’t read the American Spectator, the National Enquirer, or the
New Republic since I’ve been back — but I’m glad to see that hack
journalism is alive and well. (laughter) The one thing I do know is
that this guy didn’t do good fact checking because he has me down
working for the Bush administration — and I’ve taken another look at my
bio, and I don’t see any other Bush administration on the list other
than this one. Makes you wonder about the rest of it (laughter). I
suspect that the New Republic has gone to new lows on this one.

Then — Chas Freeman, the moderator, chimed in:

(Chas Freeman) I have a few words to say about this. I think that we
as a nation should be very concerned when a publication like the New
Republic attacks a person who is committing himself to public service,
and who has been a public servant, and who could make a lot more money
outside of public service — well, this kind of public questioning is
disgusting of someone so honorable. The New Republic is engaged in
slime journalism as far as I’m concerned.