[VIEWPOINT]It’s time to give President Roh a breakThere has never been a president who has become the object of political controversy like President Roh Moo-hyun.
It has been proven that it is no use to advise him to be more discreet in his expressions. His aides and staffers have given him various advice about the way he talks and his choice of words. It is said that he, himself, has also agonized over how to improve the shortcomings in the way he talks.
In the end, however, he decided to talk in Roh Moo-hyun’s own way instead of speaking in a presidential way. Even if that causes him problems, he has made up his mind to stick to his own candid and straightforward way of speaking.
Since his inauguration, therefore, no matter how often the press criticizes the president for making inappropriate remarks or using unsuitable expressions, he has never stopped talking in his own style.
Mr. Roh felt that diplomatic rhetoric, or indirect expressions, seemed insincere. If only Mr. Roh watched his mouth, his approval rating would not be hovering just above the ground as it does today.
There is no one else to blame, because it is the result of his own deeds. Wrangling with the words of the president further is a national waste of time and energy.
Even if Mr. Roh uses excessively provocative ironies or slightly vulgar metaphoric expressions, I think it better for us to overlook them as his unique humor, though it is not funny.
Although the president does not change, people should change.
During Mr. Roh’s recent round of visits, too, he has created controversies everywhere. Let’s disregard them generously. Otherwise, I wonder whether we will drift to a state of anarchy.
There is no time for us to waste quarreling over the talking habits of the lame-duck president.
By all means, Mr. Roh has to fulfill his presidential responsibilities during the rest of his term in office.
We should refrain from criticizing his remark, “I will continuously create noise.”
The expression is a little coarse, but it is nothing but a Roh-style expression meaning that he will “do his best.”
There is a lot of time left in his term. Depending on the way the president performs, it is easily long enough to make the future of the nation better or worse.
In the name of reform, Mr. Roh has turned almost every stone around him upside-down. If he makes things worse toward the end of his term, instead of solving problems, his presidency will be a disaster.
In an recent television interview, he made many more inappropriate remarks. But I would like to accept his appeal to the people, “Please don’t be suspicious that the president is not acting with good intentions,” without condition. I believe the remark was made with all of his sincerity.
It was made in connection with the government’s policy to promote a free trade agreement with the United States. What he meant to say was that, although people can express their opposition to the policy, they shouldn’t hurl abuse on the president by blaming a conspiracy theory for the policy.
In the same interview, the president said, “it is very hard to manage.”
I think these words revealed his inner self vividly. In fact, it is about time for him to get tired.
As he confessed, the president’s excessive will to do too many things during his term of office may have been the cause of his failure. Although he didn’t say so, he may understand deep in his heart that a good policy is not made just with goodwill.
The president may believe by now that the policy that brought him the most painful failure and what decision he made was the worst one.
Although he emphasized the country’s economic success by quoting the rising stock index, Mr. Roh, who beat the experts on the economy, must know well how serious the problems facing Korea’s economy are now.
He may also fully understand that the biggest policy failure was, ironically, the labor problem that he proclaimed to be his specialty. Far from achieving the social integration that he pledged to accomplish, he might have been frustrated at the reality, in which the conflicts are amplified.
As the president, he may have many things he cannot talk openly about. Mr. Roh himself made things complicated, so very naturally he himself must solve the problems. As his approval rating has crashed, there is no room to go down any further.
I think we should stop driving the president into a corner. Instead, let’s try to believe in his goodwill.
* The writer is the CEO of the JoongAng Ilbo News Magazine.
by Lee Chang-kyu