[EDITORIALS]Political obsession

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[EDITORIALS]Political obsession

Bizarre events are accompanying the nomination of the Uri Party’s Rhyu Si-min as the new health minister. The Blue House said, “President Roh Moo-hyun expects Mr. Rhyu to show his talent in the cabinet,” but did not include him as part of the changes when it named four new cabinet ministers on Monday.
Now there is talk that the chances of Mr. Rhyu entering the cabinet are only 50-50, while Mr. Roh is reportedly to meet with Uri Party leaders to quell their protests against the move.
The Uri lawmakers have charged that Mr. Roh is being overprotective of Mr. Rhyu, and Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, who recommended Mr. Rhyu’s nomination, is also under heavy criticism from governing party members.
In order to appoint an Uri lawmaker as cabinet minister, the president has left the health minister’s post empty and exerts all his efforts to persuade party members to support his decision. Then he named the leader of the party to a cabinet minister’s job, and the party is making an outcry of disapproval of the nomination of its own members. All of these things are unprecedented.
We wonder if this is the new political experiment that the current administration has boasted about. We will allow that Mr. Roh’s handling of the party leadership as though they were merely his juniors should be a matter for the party. But we would like to know whether making a mockery of politics and undermining his own authority as president is really an attempt to do away with authoritarianism.
It helps no one that Mr. Roh is obsessed with Mr. Rhyu. When Mr. Roh was a presidential candidate, Mr. Rhyu supported him in the party, and after Mr. Roh took office, Mr. Rhyu has stayed by his side. It is understandable that Mr. Roh is appreciative of Mr. Rhyu. But the president’s gratitude was already sufficiently expressed when the administration helped Mr. Rhyu win in the first by-elections of its tenure.
Given the strong opposition from lawmakers of his own party, it is apparent that there are problems with Mr. Rhyu’s behavior and character. And the person who failed to gauge the sentiment within the party and recommended Mr. Rhyu anyway must bear the responsibility.
Mr. Rhyu has already suffered a serious political wound. If Mr. Roh continues to push for his nomination, then he will be the next victim. That means the ruling party could begin to treat him as a lame duck.
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