Chang Is Missing


As if the governor of Florida's superior qualities of leadership, intelligence, competence, and public speaking weren't reason enough to wish the Bush family didn't subscribe to the law of primogeniture, here's another reason Jeb should have been the Number One Son: entertainment value. Wouldn't you rather have a president who says stuff like this:

After more than an hour of solemn ceremony naming Rep. Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, as the 2007-08 House speaker, Gov. Jeb Bush stepped to the podium in the House chamber last week and told a short story about "unleashing Chang," his "mystical warrior" friend…

"Chang is a mystical warrior," [Bush said]. "Chang is somebody who believes in conservative principles, believes in entrepreneurial capitalism, believes in moral values that underpin a free society.

"I rely on Chang with great regularity in my public life. He has been by my side and sometimes I let him down. But Chang, this mystical warrior, has never let me down."

Bush then unsheathed a golden sword and gave it to Rubio as a gift.

The Gainesville Sun doesn't say whether the governor delivered his Ancient Chinese Secret in a Sidney Toler or a Warner Oland voice, but does provide a (sort of) explanation:

In a 1989 Washington Post article on the politics of tennis, former President George Bush was quoted as threatening to "unleash Chang" as a means of intimidating other players.

The saying was apparently quite popular with Gov. Bush's father, and referred to a legendary warrior named Chang who was called upon to settle political disputes in Chinese dynasties of yore.

The phrase has evolved, under Gov. Jeb Bush's use, to mean the need to fix conflicts or disagreements over an issue.

George H.W. Bush unleashes Chang on the tennis court here. Columnist Michael Graham wants to unleash John "Chang" Bolton on the UN here. A treasury of Calgon catchphrases here. In an old anti-W column he almost certainly regrets these days, self-made man Jonah Goldberg cites primogeniture in Bush's candidacy here. A tribute to Keye Luke—whose journey from the hip, roadster-driving, jazz-listening Number One Son in the Charlie Chan films to the serene Master Po in Kung Fu to the strange and inscrutable Mr. Wing in Gremlins demonstrates the feebleness of superficial assimilation against the power of ancient traditions—here.

Update and probable correction: Reader SR claims the phrase is originally "unleash Chiang," a term in popular use by anti-Communists in the 1950s to describe the threat of unleashing Chiang Kai-Shek against the mainland. Although this use turns up more than any other even in a Google search of "unleash Chang"—i.e., even with an alternative spelling—the popularity of the phrase doesn't make much sense to me, since it refers to unleashing a person mostly famous for getting his ass kicked by the very people on whom he would ostensibly be unleashed. But given the high Google results and the plausibility of SR's explanation, I'm going to posit that the real phrase is "unleash Chiang," and that the mystical warrior business is just a load of gas—presumably brought on by a hastily consumed Pu Pu Platter.