Hu’s on First? (Xi Wants to Know)


On his return from the APEC meetings in San Francisco, President Biden met with Jake Sullivan, his national security advisor. I received a leaked transcript of their talk:

Sullivan: How did your talk go last week?

Biden: With who?

S: Not with Hu, with Xi

B: Who is she?

S: Mr. President, in public, you should not make the statement that “Hu is Xi” 

B: Why?

S: Because Hu is not Xi.  

B: Then who is who?

S: Right. 

B: What’s right?

S: Just as you said, “Hu is Hu.”

B: And the Chinese President is?  

S: Xi

B: Holy smoke, She is President. The Chinese ahead of us in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This could alienate progressives. Anyway, who is she?

S: Xi is Xi

B: If She is She, who is President of China?

S: Mr. President let’s not go through that again. I know you had a stressful week. Take it easy for a few days and don’t talk to the press. As I just told you Xi is President of China.

B: So, who is who?

S: Right

B: And She is She?

S: Right

B: How do I tell them apart?

S: Xi is younger. Hu is as old as you.

B: That is an impertinent question. Are you working for Fox News? To start with five Senators including Grassley, McConnell, and Bernie Sanders are older than me. Many people have done their best work when they were older than me. Verdi wrote Falstaff at 87. Strauss wrote Four Last Songs at 85. Monet finished Les Grandes Décorations murals at 86. Titian was in his mid 80s when he painted Pieta

Let’s get back to the President of China. By what name is the President known?

S: Xi

B: I’ll try another approach. Does the President sign documents?

S: Of course 

B: And when the President sings documents, how is the name signed?

S: Xi, of course

B: She of Course was a 12th Century prioress from the village of Course in Nord-Pas-de-Calais. Stop putting me on! What is the name of the President of China?

S: Mr. President, I’m afraid you are still confused. Watt is not the President. Xi is the President. Watt is the name of the genius who improved the steam engine. 

B: I don’t care about steam engines. For the last time, who is the President of China today?

S: Hu is not the President today. Hu was President from 2003 to 2013.

B:  Are you trying to embarrass me with that question? 

S: Answer to what question?

B: Who was President of China in 2013?

S: That is a statement, not a question. 

B: It’s a question and my answer is, “I don’t know.”

S: I Don’t Know plays third base. I will begin again. Hu is Hu. Xi is Xi. Xi is President now. Hu was President before.

B: I don’t know!

S: I just told you that I Don’t Know is the third baseman’s name. Mr. President, You are tired. Let’s talk again later.

B: Tomorrow?

S: Tomorrow is the name of our pitcher.

Steve Clifford
Steve Clifford
Steve Clifford, the former CEO of KING Broadcasting, has written humor for and the Huffington Post. He is the author of "The CEO Pay Machine."


  1. Delightful wit. You underline what there is far too little of in foreign affairs even when there are fewer wars: humor. One leavening factor during the Cold War, even the worst of it, was Krokodil, the Russian satirical magazine, more than sanctioned, enjoyed, by the Kremlin. Lat night Show monolgues help. Chinese do not lack humor, but it does not translate well, nor does our to theirs. More’s the pity.

  2. Perfectly delightful, as usual with Steve! But now that you’ve hit Biden where it aches, time to go after Trump as Mussolini!


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