[EDITORIALS]The raging bull

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[EDITORIALS]The raging bull

President Roh Moo-hyun has shamed the Korean people. By assuming a patronizing, “bring it on” attitude, and by hammering down the 90 percent of the public that doesn’t support him, when he should be attacking pro-nuclear and pro-Kim Il Sung factions, Mr. Roh has been akin to a raging bull rampaging through a china store. During his regime, he has ruined the nation’s prestige with his uncontrollable mouth, and the nation is fearful of just what he might do next. His 70-minute speech before the National Unification Advisory Council has already been well documented. Of speeches given by nine presidents in Korean history, this was the most embarrassing and undignified. We should all clip the speech from the newspaper and re-read it from time to time as a lesson on bad choices. His views on national security, the relationship with the United States, the presidency and personnel management show a man with seriously unstable emotions and even paranoia. The worst was his level of vocabulary, but what is even more of a problem is how a president with such a vocabulary can run a country properly.
Mr. Roh once said he wasn’t up to the job. Still, as time passed, we expected him to learn the ropes of “Presidential Language 101.” But things turned worse.
Mr. Roh claimed that some people call him “some guy who came out of nowhere.” On the criticism of his nomination of Lee Jae-joung as the new unification minister, the president said, “I’ve been wrongly accused. I am not insane.” The president then said, “I try to do what President [Abraham] Lincoln did and took on an inclusive hiring policy, but all I got was a bunch of criticism,” and cried, “I got so much flak” for having an emergency meeting after the North Korean missile launch hours after the fact. From controversial issues and obvious mistakes in his human resources management to national security policy, Mr. Roh has only been seething at his critics and not trying to learn from his mistakes.
His words have no boundaries. Be it foreign policy, national security, media or the military, Mr. Roh pounds on his subjects.
On the national defense budget, the president asked rhetorically, “Did our soldiers spend all that money to buy snacks?” On former defense ministers’ opposition to the transfer of wartime operational control of South Korean forces to Seoul, Mr. Roh said, “Those people had stars on their uniforms and acted like big shots” without actually having command the armed forces. To the president, the former defense ministers are “hanging onto the legs of the Americans for dear life.” Even with the six-party talks under way, Mr. Roh said the financial restrictions on North Korea by the United States were akin to “a game of cards where both the Department of State and Department of Treasury know who’s going to win.”
The president called mandatory military service “a waste of time.” He also said cabinet ministers in the past responded to media criticism by telling reporters, “We should go out for a drink some time.”
It would be better if Mr. Roh’s speech was just a way to vent his frustration or an expression of his hot-tempered nature. Unfortunately, all of this rhetoric appears calculated. He pounced on key figures who want a new political party, including Goh Kun, Chung Dong-young and Kim Geun-tae. With the presidential election on the horizon, the president wanted to secure the Roh Moo-hyun brand of politics by shaking up other politicians. We’re worried about what kind of chaos the president will cause in the future.
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