After all, even FVR, apparently, has begun to bitch:
Newsflash: FVR demands apology from Presd’l Spokesman Ignacio Bunye for slur on retired soldiers. Gag order also wrong as FVR urges GMA to work for national unity as he expresses regret at the slow pace of moves to amend Charter. Break imminent as FVR leaves for Germany.
That’s a text supposedly from former president Ramos’s press people.
The little prince of journalistic scuttlebutt, Newsboy, has been proclaiming his affections for the President for some time, because, he says, she is a bitch. His word, not mine, but I know where he’s coming from. That’s one reason I still have fond memories of working for the President. I liked her as a bitchy President. I wish she’d remained a bitchy President. Every time she was bitchy, I applauded it, and many of my disagreements with those I worked with at the Palace was over the question of whether bitchiness is a quality that is helpful, or destructive, as far as a female President is concerned.
My major disappointment with the President was -and remains- she could neither remain a consistent, no-nonsense, workaholic bitch, nor completely transform herself into a caring, cuddling, and empathetic chief executive. She tried to please everyone, and that is a cardinal sin in politics. You can’t please everyone, but you should recognize two things: your core constituency, who provide support come hell or high water, and the broader national constituency, that is, the public, that has some pretty ingrained notions of what national leadership should be about. What are those ingrained notions, as far as Presidents are concerned?
One commenter, “.F.” recently said,
It has come to a point where I dont care how Gloria got there, or how the military became a fat, weak worm, or why senators and congressmen love the powers of congressional investigations. What really bothers me is their same absorption with political power plays, to the detriment of their job performance. Oh impeach them all, fire them all! This country needs a paternalistic dictator to crack the whip, just like the sultans and datus of old, but we are too stuck with American-fed gospel of democracy to admit itÃ¢â‚¬â€œeven if it goes against our instincts and our culture. And because of this lingering colonial mindset, we havent produced a Lee Kuan Yew or a Mahathir to lead us out of the morass. What we produced are charlatans and weaklings in the officialdom, quarelling their way to power till kingdom come.
I pointed out in the past, that the Americans say, our conception of democracy is plebiscitary, and I have written about plebiscitary democracy more recently, too: an election is a plebiscite, and plebiscites are, to my mind, our view of the democratic way of settling issues. What issues could these be? Who do we want to do the leading? Then we choose someone, by an election, which is as much about choosing the new, as it is a plebiscite on the old. And once we choose a leader, we expect them to lead. If we don’t like it, then we vote them out. Or, if a leader is unsure if the public still supports the current leadership, then hold an election that serves as a plebiscite on the leader, and that could be any election, say for a mayor or governor, so long as the leader makes it clear that the results of that election is as much a plebiscite on the leader, as it is about the specific purpose of the election. Rep. Teddyboy Locsin said the plenary vote at the House was supposed to work as a vote of confidence in the President, after the Committee on Justice put together the strongest possible case. It didn’t put together a case at all, which made the plenary vote a farce. Had the articles of impeachment proceeded to the Senate, you would then have eventually had another vote of confidence in the President, but this of course, never took place. The President has won procedurally, but lost in the battle for public opinion, or at best, has managed a stalemate. She has not harnessed the plebiscitary powers of the presidency, because she is incapable of appreciating this aspect of it. Sort of like a mechanic good at keeping an engine going but not realizing the engine isn’t a tractor engine, but the motor for a Ferrari.
We have sometimes conscious, sometime subconscious expectations of our presidents. Whenever the President paid a surprise visit to a government office, made the feathers fly, and scolded someone in public, she was harking back to a long-standing and successful tradition of political leadership. It is a time-honored principle of management in this country that you can only get results, not by being buddy-buddy with your staff, but putting the fear of God (or yourself) in them. The problem comes when you are strong and ruthless one day, and weak, vacillating, and suddenly pining to be warm and cuddly the next. You either come across as schizophrenic or insincere. The model for the President is one familiar to all of us: the “terror” teacher. She should have stayed that. It was what gave her crucial support, and made people believe in her. I don’t think anyone personally likes the President, but among her supporters they feared her, and admired her intelligence, organizational ability, and efficiency. Things began to fall apart when she failed to hold on steadily to any particular persona, which eventually leads to the conclusion that every persona is expendable, and if that’s the case, there’s really nothing one can hitch their own star to. The “I’m sorry” speech was the last straw, because it was so utterly out of character, proving, in a sense, she has no character at all. Her fiery speeches thereafter, and again the ones she’s making recently, would have served her in good stead, if she’d kept making them all along. If that is truly her, it is the GMA people can follow; but by now, how sure we are it’s her?
Another reader, “Alex,” also recently said,
From my observation, the opposition groups and the Senate, fueled by the media, have waged brinkmanship much earlier than Malacanang and certainly far more blatantly and irresponsibly. They have openly incited the people to revolt against the administration through numerous and mostly ill-attended street protests that cause more headaches to the citizenry and to businesses than to Arroyo. They have surreptitiously courted the military to join in overthrowing the administration. They encourage anarchy by not respecting our Constitutional processes and our democratic system if they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t jive with their interests.
I admire the citizenry for the patience and clarity theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve shown throughout this political turmoil. I think the people are starting to get it, what it takes to achieve democracy. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not faith but a belief. A belief in a government of laws not of men. We may not get the perfect men and women to serve all the time, but as long as we stick to our democratic system and uphold our laws and not just break them and change them whenever they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t suit the opposition weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be on our way to a better and more stable government.
(My favorite Communist blogger, can’t understand this mentality and indeed, she finds it offensive; another radical blogger is also not pleased with this thinking but thinks two fronts, are better than one: he also hints at a potentially very interesting entry -how to conduct a Palace siege- whcih I’m dying to read because I have ideas of my own, too, purely as an intellectual exercise, of course). Anyway, the comment brings up some interesting questions. To a certain extent, the comment reminds me of things I say to people: after the big march to push for impeachment, once the battle had been lost, the thing to do would have been to first, push for a reorganization of the House; second, decide on an interim strategy regarding charter change; third, begin preparations for the next impeachment. You lose, you lose. Reorganize and fight again another day. The big lesson here is that indeed, the public is process-oriented. Conducting post-mortems on why the impeachment battle was lost yesterday will ensure you win it tomorrow. Meanwhile, as you prepare for that, engage in a war of attrition. After all, what do the President’s enemies have to lose? At the very, very least, they will have their turn in 2010. And will inherit her problems as well as her gains. But you see, that’s the problem with many of those in the traditional opposition. They haven’t done their planning, thinking -what Bush, Sr. called “the vision thing.”
We need the “vision thing.” Badly. Even the President could never fully grasp the “Strong Republic” concept, which I liked (and continue to like). The presidents who succeed are those who have -and project- a vision for the nation. “Poised for take off” may be good if you have the mind of an air traffic controller. But not of a president.