[EDITORIALS]Mr. Roh’s worst day“Yesterday was my worst day as a president,” President Roh Moo-hyun said. His speech at the National Assembly did not go well, he had to apologize for his involvement in the appointment of the president of the Korea Broadcasting System and talks with KBS labor union leaders did not go smoothly. The first presidential address to the National Assembly was to have been the Roh administration’s blueprint for the next five years. Unlike past presidents, Mr. Roh delivered his speech in person at the National Assembly, a break with tradition that deserves praise. In the United States, members of congress often rise to applaud during the president’s State of the Union address as a basic courtesy. But our lawmakers remained quiet not only while Mr. Roh was reading his speech but also as he entered the Assembly. The lack of courtesy was disturbing, but the Blue House must take the lack of applause seriously. U.S. presidential speeches are designed to elicit bipartisan applause, confirming to the people the president’s leadership. The applause is a reflection of basic harmony among the ruling and opposition parties. But Mr. Roh’s speech at the National Assembly had some problems. His maiden address should have looked to the future, but Mr. Roh spent a lot of time complaining about the press, and his explanation of the appointment of the KBS president was impromptu, and so he wasted a chance to deliver a unifying message. His explanation about the decision to dispatch troops to Iraq was unconvincing; he repeatedly said, in effect, that there was no justification for sending them.
Despite his staff’s opposition, Mr. Roh suddenly summoned KBS labor union leaders to the Blue House and wrangled with them for more than two hours. Stooping to involvement in labor-management relations at a broadcasting network was not a display of presidential demeanor either. Mr. Roh and the Blue House brought the president’s worst day on themselves. He should think seriously about what it means to be president of a country.