[FOUNTAIN]Is quitting just a threat?Not every president completes his term, not even in the United States, where the presidential government is firmly established.
Among the 42 U.S. presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush, nine did not complete their terms. More than one in five presidents left office early. Four presidents, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren Harding and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, died in office naturally. Another four presidents, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy, were assassinated.
Richard Nixon was the only president to resign from office. He won a landslide victory in the re-election, but then the Watergate scandal was revealed. He replaced the attorney general and fired the special prosecutor. However, when even the Republican congressmen and senators turned their backs on him, Mr. Nixon resigned, right before the vote for impeachment.
In China, passing down the throne not to the son but to a wise man was a glorified practice called “abdication.” Emperor Yao set a model by passing the throne to Emperor Shun, who was succeeded by Emperor Yu. While many other regimes claimed that the throne was passed through abdication, the successor actually had snatched the crown by force.
When Emperor Zhaozong of Tang was driven away to Luoyang, he told the people, “Do not cheer for me, for I am no longer your ruler,” lamenting the fact that he had already become a figurehead. Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, who had opened the Kaiyuan era, fell into a psychological panic when his love, Yang Guifei, died.
When the An Lushan Rebellion started, he took flight. The people demanded that he fight against the rebels, but he gave up the throne. In this case, how can he say he voluntarily stepped down?
In Korea, no president before Chun Doo Hwan completed his term in office. Syngman Rhee stepped down at the citizens’ demand, and Yoon Po-sun and Choi Kyu-ha were driven out after military coups. President Park Chung Hee was assassinated.
President Roh Moo-hyun said, “I hope I won’t become the first president who cannot complete his term.” He repeats “I cannot do this anymore” so many times that it sounds like a threat, just like Kim Jong-il’s nuclear bomb.
With a single-digit approval rating, he cannot expect to make an exit with applause. The president himself and those close to him disagree on whether he can or cannot step down, and it only makes the citizens even more confused.
The writer is an editorial writer
of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin-kook